Sanders Lays out His Plan to Finance Expanded Entitlements
Klimas, Jacqueline, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Byline: Jacqueline Klimas, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Even as negotiators struggle to write a final fiscal 2014 budget, one of Congress' most liberal lawmakers laid out his own vision for what the government's priorities should be - complete with big jumps in taxes and social spending and cuts at the Pentagon.
Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, says that rather than talking about lowering entitlements, the federal government should ask wealthy individuals and major Wall Street companies to pony up to expand the social safety nets.
Mr. Sanders is one of the 29 negotiators working to hammer out a budget. Most of his ideas already have been ruled out by Republicans, who adamantly have rejected tax increases, underscoring the wide gulf between the two sides.
Sanders' proposal for taxes is far out, but unfortunately I think that's where the majority of the Democratic caucus is, said Chris Edwards, editor of DownsizingGovernment.org at the Cato Institute.
It's unclear whether Mr. Sanders' proposal would balance the budget because the Congressional Budget Office hasn't crunched the numbers, but that isn't the point, his spokesman Michael Briggs said. Instead, the purpose of Mr. Sanders' plan is to lay out ways to increase revenue or decrease spending that would both lower deficits and provide resources to support job creation, he said.
Despite this, Mr. Sanders feels his plan is what most Americans want.
Sen. Sanders put forward his deficit reduction and job creation plan after listening to the overwhelming majority of the American people who do not want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits at all, Mr. Briggs said.
Mr. Sanders' plan would boost Social Security by scrapping the taxable income cap. Right now, individuals only pay Social Security tax on up to $113,700 of income; anything above that is not subject to the 6.2 percent tax. Mr. Sanders wants everyone to pay the same percentage.
He also wants to impose a tax on Wall Street stock trades, raise the estate tax and raise income tax rates for those in the top 2 percent of earners. …