Senator Bernie Sanders went on the offensive against Rep. Paul Ryan’s new budget plan Thursday, calling it, “insane” and “disastrous.”
“It is insane to simply talk about ‘cut, cut, cut’ when you’ve got the wealthiest people and large corporations doing phenomenally well and paying lower effective tax rates than they should,” the Vermont Independent senator said to The Cycle hosts Thursday. “Are we a nation or are we moving in fact to an oligarchic form of society, where a handful of people on the top have it all, middle class declines, poverty stays at a very high level?”
The Ryan budget aims to balance the budget within 10 years while cutting spending dramatically by $4.6 trillion. It includes a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act and an overhaul of medicare, using subsidies instead of guaranteed benefits. It cuts $716 billion from Medicaid. The blueprint creates two tax brackets, one at 10% and another at 25%.
Ryan has said the deep cuts are necessary to lower the national debt, writing, “The truth is, the nation’s debt is a sign of overreach. Government is trying to do too much, and when government does too much, it doesn’t do anything well. So a balanced budget is a reasonable goal, because it returns government to its proper limits and focus.”
Sanders wouldn’t have that. As chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, he emphasized he’s especially concerned with cuts for disabled veterans and war widows.
“We send kids off to Iraq, they lose their legs, they defend our country, and you’ve got large corporations who are not paying a nickel in taxes. That’s not what a nation, that’s not what shared sacrifice is about.”
Sanders’ criticism Thursday didn’t stop with Ryan. Although he supported Barack Obama over Mitt Romney for the White House, he wasn’t satisfied with the president’s ability to work for the middle class and stand up to Wall Street.
“This is where I think the American people get confused and lose confidence in him,” Sanders said of Obama. “How do you tell me that you’re running for the middle class and defending the middle class, the theme of your campaign, oh but ‘by the way, I’m going to cut social security and disabled veterans benefits.’ People don’t think that makes a whole lot of sense.”
Although he wishes it would “go further,” Sanders said he would support the Murray budget presented by Senate Democrats.
That version cuts $1.85 trillion from the deficit over 10 years, cuts $240 billion from the Pentagon budget, contains $975 billion in spending cuts, $975 billion in new revenue from closing loopholes, and provides $100 billion for infrastructure projects.