Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 09.25.46By: Jake Johnston

Published 16-10-2017

 

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in Silver Spring, Maryland, on July 13, 2017. (Photo: Blink O'fanaye)
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in Silver Spring, Maryland, on July 13, 2017. (Photo: Blink O’fanaye)

With the GOP’s safety net-shredding budget blueprint headed for a crucial vote in the Senate this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) blasted his Republican colleagues’ proposals in a Guardian op-ed Monday as little more than a “gift to billionaires” made possible by doing “incalculable harm to tens of millions of working families, our kids, the sick, the elderly, and the poor.”

“The Republican budget, which will likely be debated on the floor of the Senate this week, is the Robin Hood principle in reverse,” Sanders writes. “It takes from those in need and gives to those who are already living in incredible opulence.”

As Common Dreams has reported, despite the GOP’s and the Trump administration’s best efforts to portray their budget and tax plan as pro-middle class, non-partisan analyses have laid bare the fact that their proposals amount to an enormous boon to the wealthiest Americans.

The independent Tax Policy Center found last month that by 2027, 80 percent of the Trump-GOP tax cuts will be enjoyed by the top one percent.

To clear up budget space for this reward to the rich, Republicans are preparing to inflict “massive cuts [to] programs that working class Americans desperately need,” Sanders notes.

“This budget cuts Medicaid by more than $1 trillion over 10 years — which would throw some 15 million Americans off of the health insurance they currently have,” Sanders adds. “Further, this budget does what the Republicans have not yet attempted to do in their previous healthcare legislation and that is to make a $473 billion cut to Medicare, despite Trump’s campaign promises not to cut these programs.”

To the question of why the GOP would so severely slash crucial safety net programs and deliver massive tax cuts to the wealthy — moves recent polls have found are extremely unpopular among vast majority of the American public — Sanders responds: “follow the money.”

“Today, we have a corrupt campaign finance system that enables multi-billionaires, along with some of the most powerful CEOs in America, to contribute many hundreds of millions of dollars to elect Republican candidates to represent their views,” Sanders writes. “As a result, the top one percent has been able to rig the political system to favor them at the expense of virtually everyone else.”

Thanks to this system, Sanders argues, most Americans are subjected to devastating austerity while the rich and politically influential — like the Koch brothers and the Walton family — continue to get richer, decade after decade.

“At a time when the middle class is shrinking and over 40 million Americans are living in poverty, this budget must be defeated and replaced with a plan that reflects the needs of the working families of our country,” Sanders concluded, “not just the wealthy, the powerful and large campaign contributors.”

House Republicans approved their own budget blueprint, which largely reflects the priorities of their Senate allies, earlier this month.

If the Senate version — which allows for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts and over $5 trillion in spending cuts — is approved later this week, the path will be paved for Republicans to “fast-track” their tax legislation without needing any Democratic support.