Sanders voices opposition to tax cut

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(Host) Vermont’s lone congressman has stepped up his efforts against President Bush’s proposed tax cuts. Representative Bernard Sanders says it’s morally wrong to give tax breaks to the wealthy, while cutting health care, children’s programs and veterans benefits.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Bernie Sanders frequently opposes tax cuts. But he says President Bush’s plan to provide $726 billion in tax breaks over the next decade is wrong on a number of levels.

Sanders says the money could be much better spent meeting the needs of society. According to Sanders, the elderly cannot afford prescription drugs, 13 million American children go to sleep hungry every night, and veterans wait months for health care. He says the tax cut will make those problems worse.

(Sanders) “What they are saying is, ‘We have the power now and we’re going to turn our backs on the elderly, and we don’t care if some of them die because they can’t get their medicine. And we’re going to turn our backs on the veterans. We’re going to turn our backs on the little children of this country, who in some cases lack nutrition, don’t get the education they need, don’t get the head start they need. But what we are going to do is give huge tax breaks to those who contribute to our campaigns.’ And I think from a religious perspective – because we hear a lot about religion these days – that’s basically immoral.”

(Dillon) Sanders was joined at his news conference by Barbara Postman of the Vermont’s Children Forum, a child advocacy group. She says the tax cuts inevitably will lead to cuts in programs that help children. Postman says the president’s plan will reduce taxes by $100 or less for about half the people, while the very wealthy will get the biggest benefit:

(Postman) “I was always taught that we’re judged by the choices we make. And to me – and to us at the Children’s Forum – this does not make any sense, this choice. We just hope that somehow we can stop this foolish proposal.”

(Dillon) The House has passed a $550 billion tax cut package. The Senate may trim that to $350 billion. Sanders says there’s still time to block the tax cuts, if the public learns about the impact.

(Sanders) “I think if we can rally the American people, we can win this. Because I do not believe that anywhere near a majority of Americans believe that you give huge tax breaks to millionaires and cut back on the elderly, the children, the veterans and those people in need. That is not what this country is about.”

(Dillon) Sanders says he hopes his anti-tax cut argument appeals to fiscal conservatives. He says it’s fiscally irresponsible to cut revenues as the federal budget deficit climbs.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.

(Host) We should mention that Barbara Postman is a member of the VPR Board of Directors.

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