Bernie Sanders: Make the Rich Pay Off the Deficit

Vermonter proposes that taxes on rich be used to cut deficit in half.

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A proposal that rich Americans and corporations bear the brunt of paying off much of the federal deficit is catching fire as liberals and progressives are urging President Obama not to give in to GOP demands that no taxes be considered in the talks to boost the deficit ceiling. [Read the U.S. News debate: Should Congress raise the debt limit?]

A letter to Obama posted on Sen. Bernie Sanders' Web site already has 4,500 signatures and that is expected to surge after he addresses the issue in a late afternoon Senate floor speech today.

"Mr. President, please listen to the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe that deficit reduction must be about shared sacrifice. The wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations in this country must pay their fair share," the Vermont Independent urges.

"At least 50 percent of any deficit reduction package must come from revenue raised by ending tax breaks for the wealthy and eliminating tax loopholes that benefit large, profitable corporations and Wall Street financial institutions. A sensible deficit reduction package must also include significant cuts to unnecessary and wasteful Pentagon spending."

Republicans have rejected new taxes as part of an agreement to trim the deficit and offset the $2.4 trillion boost in the national debt ceiling.

Below is the whole letter to Obama:

Dear Mr. President,

This is a pivotal moment in the history of our country. Decisions are being made about the national budget that will impact the lives of virtually every American for decades to come. As we address the issue of deficit reduction we must not ignore the painful economic reality of today - which is that the wealthiest people in our country and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well while the middle class is collapsing and poverty is increasing. In fact, the United States today has, by far, the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth.

Everyone understands that over the long-term we have got to reduce the deficit - a deficit that was caused mainly by Wall Street greed, tax breaks for the rich, two wars, and a prescription drug program written by the drug and insurance companies. It is absolutely imperative, however, that as we go forward with deficit reduction we completely reject the Republican approach that demands savage cuts in desperately-needed programs for working families, the elderly, the sick, our children and the poor, while not asking the wealthiest among us to contribute one penny.

Mr. President, please listen to the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe that deficit reduction must be about shared sacrifice. The wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations in this country must pay their fair share. At least 50 percent of any deficit reduction package must come from revenue raised by ending tax breaks for the wealthy and eliminating tax loopholes that benefit large, profitable corporations and Wall Street financial institutions. A sensible deficit reduction package must also include significant cuts to unnecessary and wasteful Pentagon spending.

Please do not yield to outrageous Republican demands that would greatly increase suffering for the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society. Now is the time to stand with the tens of millions of Americans who are struggling to survive economically, not with the millionaires and billionaires who have never had it so good. Respectfully, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Cosigners.