Mr. President, this is a pivotal moment in the history of our country. In the coming days and weeks, decisions will be made about our national budget that will impact the lives of virtually every American in this country for decades to come—and the time is now for the American people to become significantly involved in that debate and not leave it to a small number of people here in Washington.
Mr. President, at a time when the wealthiest people and the largest corporations in our country are doing phenomenally well, and in many cases have never had it so good, while the middle class is disappearing and poverty is increasing, it is absolutely imperative that any deficit-reduction package that passes this Congress not include the horrendous cuts, the cruel cuts, in programs that working people desperately need, that are utilized every day by the elderly, by the sick, by our children, and by the lowest income people in our country, that the Republicans in Congress, dominated by their extreme rightwing, are demanding.
America is not about giving tax breaks to billionaires and attacking the most vulnerable people in our country. We must not allow that to happen.
In my view, the President of the United States needs to stand with the vast majority of the American people and say no to the Republican leadership and make it clear that enough is enough! No, we will not balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in this country—on our children, on our seniors, on the sick. No, we will not do that. Working families in this country have already sacrificed enough in terms of lost jobs, lost wages, lost homes, lost pensions. The working families of this country are hurting right now. Enough is enough.
But, Mr. President, now is the time to say to the millionaires and the billionaires in this country, and to the largest corporations, who in many ways have never had it so good, that they must participate in deficit reduction—that there must be shared sacrifice, that deficit reduction cannot be based on cutting back on the needs of working families and the middle class, but the rich and large corporations have also got to participate in this process.
Furthermore, it is absolutely necessary, if we are talking about a sensible deficit-reduction package, that we take a hard look at unnecessary and wasteful spending at the Pentagon.
And, Mr. President, let us make it very clear that we will not be blackmailed again by the Republican leadership in Washington who are threatening to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States government so that, for the very first time in our nation's history, we might not pay the bills we owe. That is their threat. We will destroy the record of always paying our bills, never failing to do that, unless they get everything they want.
Instead of yielding to the incessant, extreme Republican demands, as the President in many respects did in last December's tax cut agreement and this year's spending negotiations, the President has got to get out of the beltway. He has to connect with the needs of working families and ordinary Americans, and rally the overwhelming majority of our people who believe that deficit reduction must be based on shared sacrifice, that the wealthy and the powerful and the large corporations cannot continue to get everything they want while we wage a cruel and unprecedented attack on the most vulnerable people in this country.
It is time for President Obama to stand with the millions who have already lost their jobs, their homes, their life savings, instead of the millionaires, who in many cases have never had it so good.
Unless the American people in huge numbers tell the President not to yield one inch to Republican demands to destroy Medicare and Medicaid while continuing to provide tax breaks to the wealthy and the powerful, unless the American people rise up and say enough is enough, I am afraid that what will happen is the President will yield once again, and the wealthy and the powerful will laugh all the way to the bank, while working people will be devastated.
So, today, I am asking the American people that, if you believe deficit reduction should be about shared sacrifice; if you believe the wealthiest people in our country and the largest corporations should be asked to pay their fair share as part of deficit reduction; if you believe that, at a time when military spending has almost tripled since 1997, that we begin to take a hard look at our defense budget; and if you believe the middle-class and working families have already sacrificed enough, I urge you to make sure that the President hears your voice—and he needs to hear it now.
I would urge the American people to go to my Web site, sanders.senate.gov, and sign a letter to the President letting him know that enough is enough…
Posted by Melissa McEwan at Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The brilliant Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) on the floor of the Senate yesterday. To read the full text of the 90-minute speech, go here. To sign the letter (please sign the letter!), go here.