Senator Bernie Sanders Filibusters the Tax Cut Deal (Watch Now)
As I put this together, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is on the Senate floor “filibustering” or giving a long speech on Obama’s politically flawed tax cut deal, which highly favors corporations and the wealthy and rich in this country. He is talking about how this deal includes Republican ideas to divert money from Social Security, which will handicap Social Security and perhaps be the beginning of the end of the program. And, he is also talking about how agreeing to continue these tax cuts now could mean that they become permanent because extending the cuts once will likely put him in a corner where he has to extend them again and again. [WATCH HERE]
Sen. Sanders has been on the floor for a few hours. As TPM reports, “Joined at different times by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sanders has been decrying the Obama tax cut plan for bailing out the wealthiest people in America.”
Here are some of the things he has said so far:
*Reading from Arianna Huffington’s Third World America , he detailed how our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling. He shared the following: “Americans spend 4.2 billion hours a year stuck in traffic.” And said, “Think about that. A cost of $78 billion a year. Think of all the pollution, all of the frustration, all of the anxiety, all of the road rage.”
*He outlined that, in studying car crashes across the country, it has been determined that badly maintained roads are responsible for $272 billion a year in damages. If you want to know why we are seeing car crashes, the problem is bad roads
*On America’s situation with rail, he explained, “Train rides in the 1930s and 1940s took less time than those journeys would take today. In the 30s, 40s, 50s, people were able to get there in less time.” Specifically, he cited trips like a trip from Chicago to Minneapolis, which used to take 4 1/2 hours and now takes 8 hours.
*He talked specfically about problems with bridges in this country, pleaded with President Obama to invest in bridges at the federal level.
*He said, “With our infrastructure collapsing…We have an agreement which puts zero dollars in infrastructure.” And, mentioned that this country would need $850 billion to get all of America’s bridges into good shape.
*He again read from Huffington’s book and illuminated how are drop to third world status is being sped up by our lack of investment in public education: “Historically, education has been the great equalizer. That has been the incredible virtue of our public school system.” And he lauded the fact that historically we have “given young people millions of young people the opportunity to go to school go to college and fulfill their potential.”
*He shared statistics that many who saw the documentary Waiting for Superman are likely familiar with: Among 30 developed countries ranked by OECD, ranked 25th in math, 21st in science. Even the top 10% ranked only 24th in the world in math literacy.
*He pleaded – “Does anyone believe here in America we take intellectual development seriously?” And he pointed out how we pay millions to sports stars but can only give a small salary to teachers or early childhood education providers.
*”67% high school graduates don’t have enough of the skills required for success in college,” he noted. And said, “When you invest in your kids, you are investing in the future of America.”
*He noted, “If you don’t invest in your young people, they are not going to become productive taxpaying workers. They end up engaging in destructive behavior.” They will be dropping out and ending up in jail at great expense.
*He dropped this statistic: 75% of American youth who apply to the military are unable to serve because of los cognitive ability, obesity, criminal records. A “National Security” issue?
*He noted that the deal will provide tens of billions of dollars to wealthy at a time when they have enjoyed tax breaks and that Citizens for Tax Justice has said, for example, if this deal is allowed, Rupert Murdoch, CEO of NewsCorp, would receive a 1.3 million tax break, Jamie Dimon, head of JPMorganChase, would receive a $1.1. million tax break, Vikram Pandit would receive a $785,000 tax break,e etc.
*He read a quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need to is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which it is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise. We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows. Again, comrades over there, take the lesson from your own experience. Not only did you not grudge, but you gloried in the promotion of the great generals who gained their promotion by leading their army to victory. So it is with us. We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.”
*And he noted that by adjusting the estate tax, as the deal would do, the Walton Family would receive a $32.7 billion tax break. At a time when we supposedly cannot afford to “give $14 billion to people who are struggling” for a $250 COLA check to seniors and disabled veterans, we can give more than double to the Walton Family. He added, “If this makes sense to anybody, please call my office.”
His filibuster continues at 4 pm ET. Sanders is doing what Americans elect their leaders to do — He is defending us. He is speaking up for the people.
Thank you, Bernie.
To see him filibustering, click here.