- Unbeliebable: White House turns Bieber petition response into immigration screed
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador’s visa, but says law is ‘advisory’
- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
- Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
- Fla. man charged with killing 16-month-old son to play Xbox undisturbed
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- Michigan mayor slaps back atheists’ try to erect ‘reason station’ at city hall
- PHILLIPS: Where is the conservative establishment?
- 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes southern Mexico
Sanders lays out plan to raise taxes to pay for expanded entitlements
Even as negotiators struggle to write a final fiscal 2014 budget, one of Congress’ most liberal lawmakers laid out his own vision for what the government’s priorities should be — complete with big jumps in taxes and social spending and cuts at the Pentagon.
Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, says that rather than talking about lowering entitlements, the federal government should ask wealthy individuals and major Wall Street companies to pony up to expand the social safety nets.
Mr. Sanders is one of the 29 negotiators working to hammer out a budget. Most of his ideas already have been ruled out by Republicans, who adamantly have rejected tax increases, underscoring the wide gulf between the two sides.
“Sanders‘ proposal for taxes is far out, but unfortunately I think that’s where the majority of the Democratic caucus is,” said Chris Edwards, editor of DownsizingGovernment.org at the Cato Institute.
It’s unclear whether Mr. Sanders‘ proposal would balance the budget because the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t crunched the numbers, but that isn’t the point, his spokesman Michael Briggs said. Instead, the purpose of Mr. Sanders‘ plan is to “lay out ways to increase revenue or decrease spending that would both lower deficits and provide resources to support job creation,” he said.
Despite this, Mr. Sanders feels his plan is what most Americans want.
“Sen. Sanders put forward his deficit reduction and job creation plan after listening to the overwhelming majority of the American people who do not want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits at all,” Mr. Briggs said.
Mr. Sanders‘ plan would boost Social Security by scrapping the taxable income cap. Right now, individuals only pay Social Security tax on up to $113,700 of income; anything above that is not subject to the 6.2 percent tax. Mr. Sanders wants everyone to pay the same percentage.
He also wants to impose a tax on Wall Street stock trades, raise the estate tax and raise income tax rates for those in the top 2 percent of earners.
On the other side of the ledger, he wants to let Medicare negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices and establish a fee to do business with countries that manipulate their currency, such as China.
Budget negotiators are charged with drafting a fiscal 2014 budget plan by mid-December. With Democrats ruling out any major entitlement reform and Republicans saying no to tax hikes, the group will not be able to reach a “grand bargain.” Instead, lawmakers will focus on keeping the government open when stopgap funds run out in January and may try to chip away at the next round of sequestration cuts.
Mr. Sanders was one of the most vocal members in Wednesday’s budget meeting, pointing to the severely uneven distribution of wealth and budget surpluses of the past.
“The reason we’re in a deficit today is two unpaid wars; a Medicare Part D program unpaid for; [and] large tax breaks, trillions of dollars which went to the wealthy,” he said. “And I only say that [because] as we go forward to figure out where we want to be as priorities, you’ve got to remember that fact as well.”
Most lawmakers have stressed the need for each side to make difficult choices and compromises to find a solution. Mr. Sanders‘ 10-point proposal, however, has only one issue that may find some support on the right: cuts to wasteful spending at the Pentagon, including defense contractor fraud and more-transparent purchasing practices, Mr. Edwards said.
“That’s the only one of his 10 to make any sense to me, the others are so far off base,” Mr. Edwards said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jacqueline Klimas covers Capitol Hill for The Washington Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Superheroes fail to break record at Awesome Con
- Superheroes to take over Capitol Hill
- Rep. Moran defends against spoof blog's PTSD 'story'
- American Legion shoots down idea to tie immigration to military service
- Child's play? E-cigarettes marketed to youngsters, report finds
Latest Blog Entries
- Miss. GOP chair: Huckabee distracting from GOP's reasonable pro-life stance
- Commerce Secretary 'optimistic' about U.S.'s economic standing worldwide
- Less than half of registered voters would re-elect their congressman, poll finds
- Half of registered voters in Va. would re-elect Sen. Mark Warner
- 2013 was second most polarizing year of Obama's presidency
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- Nancy Pelosi washes immigrants' feet in humble Holy Week act then promotes on Twitter
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Harry Reid blasts Bundy ranch supporters as 'domestic terrorists'
- EDITORIAL: Mark Warner running scared?
- Inside China: Marine's comment on islands draws sharp Chinese response
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.