Sen. Sanders: Lack of Action on Cap-and-Trade Should Disappoint ‘Every Person on This Planet’

By Alex Pepper

Aug 3, 2010 2:18pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: With Senate action on a cap-and-trade environmental bill stalled, liberal voices both inside and outside Congress are expressing disappointment – particularly since they know that the measure’s prospects are unlikely to brighten in a Congress with fewer Democrats.

On ABC/Washington Post’s “Top Line” today, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., blasted Republicans for refusing to “stand up” to big energy companies, and said he wishes Democratic leaders in the Senate would press for a vote and “take the case to the American people.”

“I think it’s disappointing to me. It should be disappointing not only to every American, but every person on this planet,” Sanders told us. “Global warming is real, and it is causing right now very significant problems for our environment, and that’s true all over the world.

“The good news is that we have the capability to reverse greenhouse gas emissions and create millions of good-paying jobs. Transforming our energy system is good for our economy as we move away from spending $350 billion every single year importing oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and other foreign countries. What we have got to do is begin [to] invest that money here, create energy here, create jobs here. So am I disappointed that we’re not moving in that direction? Absolutely.”

Sanders added: “The real question you should be asking is, given the energy crisis, given the opportunities to stimulate our economy by moving toward new energy technologies, why do we not have one Republican — one Republican — willing to stand up to the coal companies, the oil companies and the big-money interests and join us on energy transformation?”

Sanders also criticized President Obama’s deficit commission for contemplating cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, and said proposals to raise the Social Security retirement age shouldn’t be allowed to go into effect.

The solution to Social Security’s fiscal woes, he said, is to “bring more money into the system” by subjecting all wages to Social Security taxes.

“If we’re gonna deal with the deficit, which I believe we have to, I don’t want to see the middle class punished. I don’t want to see lower-income people punished. I want to see a tax system which, among other things, takes a look at the huge tax breaks that the wealthy and large corporations have gotten. I do not want to see Social Security retirement age raised to the age of 70. So I think we have got to ask those people who have benefited in recent years to start paying their fair share of taxes. You gotta take a hard look at the military. We’re spending $700 billion a year on the military.”

“Bring more money into the system,” Sanders added. “Do not tell working-class people — who have been made promises, who have struggled their whole years for a decent retirement — don’t tell those people they’re gonna have to work to 70. Many of them in blue-collar positions can’t do that.”

On another hot-button topic, Sanders blasted the timing of Republican proposals to strip automatic citizenship from the children of those who are in the United States illegally.

Yet he agreed that the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment – which confers citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” — may need to be reexamined.

“I think it’s good to take a look at all of our constitutional amendments. But I’ll tell you something: If you think it’s a coincidence that this sudden discussion begins three months before an election, you’d be very, very mistaken,” Sanders said.

“This is a political issue. We’re gonna hear more about guns, you’re gonna hear about gays, you’re gonna hear about immigration. This is what Republicans are running on. They are not running on ways to protect the middle class.”

He added: “I think it is an issue that deserves discussion. I think the way it’s being presented now is 100 percent political. I think there are other constitutional issues you want to take a look at, as well.”

Watch the interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders HERE.

For our “Post Politics” segment, we checked in with The Washington Post’s Dan Balz on Sharron Angle’s novel suggestions for handling the media, the extraordinary spending gap in the California governor’s race, plus two new Gallup polls that have President Obama’s approval rating in the 40s.

Watch the segment with Dan Balz HERE.

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