I have known Bernie Sanders for more than 20 years. I have often worked with him in Vermont, but when he took to the floor of the Senate last week to stand up and denounce the extension of the Bush tax cuts for billionaires in an unconventional nine-hour filibuster, I'd never been more honored to call him my friend and my Senator.
Bernie is a progressive hero. He has spent his entire life fighting for the poor and the middle class, just as he is now in this tax cut fight.
Make no mistake about it; this tax cut deal that President Obama struck with Republicans may be good short-term politics, but it's not the best course for the country. It's not fiscally responsible in addressing the deficit, the biggest long-term threat to America. There is no shared pain in this agreement. Instead, this is the easy way out for everybody.
Bernie Sanders didn't back down against long odds -- he had the backbone to stand up and fight for what's right. Washington needs more bold leadership like Bernie's. Let's make sure that every Democrat in Washington gets the message: when you stand up and fight, we'll have your back.
This isn't just about tax cuts for the rich either. The deal includes borrowing $120 billion from China and other sources in order to make up a shortfall in revenue for the Social Security Trust Fund caused by the additional payroll tax cut.
We all know Republicans are chomping at the bit to destroy Social Security. Cutting funding will only embolden them to step up their attacks to cut benefits, raise the retirement age, and privatize the program entirely.
Social Security is a cornerstone of the American middle class yet Republicans, who will control the House of Representatives in 2011, want to destroy it. This payroll tax cut sets us up to make it that much harder to stop them. So while most in Washington are ignoring the real damage this bill could cause in the years to come, Bernie has made it a central part of his opposition.
Today, we can send a message even Washington will understand by supporting a progressive hero for standing up for America.
Bernie stood up for us. Let's make sure everyone in Washington knows we have his back.
And thank you, Ginger, for everything you do.
Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.
Top 5 Problems with the Tax Deal
By: Nita Chaudhary
Problem #1: The deal is a stealth attack on Social Security.
The deal will lower the payroll tax—the tax that funds the Social Security trust. This is a trap for Democrats. Republicans have been coming after Social Security for years and this cut is the biggest threat to the vital program in decades. It will cut one-third of Social Security's funding this year alone and when we need to restore the payroll tax back to its current level, Republicans will cry "tax increases" and could gut it permanently.
Problem #2: For nearly one in three workers, it's a tax increase.
Nearly 50 million working Americans—including all workers making less than $20,000 per year—and millions of federal, state, and municipal workers will see their taxes go up because of the deal.2
Problem #3: The deal has not one but TWO millionaire bailouts.
In addition to extending all the Bush income tax breaks for the top 2%, the deal will slash the estate tax. If Congress did nothing, next year the estate tax would be 55% and apply to everyone inheriting $1 million or more. But the deal reduces it to 35% and only people who inherit more than $5 million will have to pay. This second bailout will give a gigantic tax giveaway to a few thousand of the richest families in the country and add hundreds of billions to the national debt.3
Problem #4: Unemployment help is insufficient and inadequate.
While the deal extends unemployment benefits for another 13 months for people currently receiving it, millions of unemployed workers who've struggled the most and been out of work more than 99 weeks—since the giant Wall Street banks wrecked the economy—will get no help at all under the deal.4 It's a gamble that there will be jobs in the next 13 months when the insurance runs out, but the tax cuts will go well beyond that. Better to just pass a stand-alone unemployment extension to help all struggling Americans.
Problem #5: Tax giveaways to the rich are a terrible way to create jobs.
Tax breaks for the rich are the least efficient way to create jobs and help the economy grow. In fact the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says extending all tax cuts would lower unemployment only 0.1% to 0.3% over the next year5 and that the cost of the tax deal would be $900 billion over the next five years.6
We've got to stop this deal and make sure everyone understands what's really in it. Can you share this list now!
It appears that Congress has finally caved into the Republikkkan regime on taking over completely.. But Bernie Sanders fought a hard battle for us the Middle Class American's... He will forever be our Hero in the fight for Democracy in America.....