ABC News’ Rick Klein (@rickklein) reports:
Republicans have seized upon Senate Democrats’ failure to produce a budget as evidence that they’re not serious about addressing the nation’s fiscal problems – and instead are focused primarily on attacking Republicans.
On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Sen. Bernie Sanders outlined a major stumbling block for Democrats in agreeing on a spending plan: He and other liberals in the Democratic caucus are refusing to sign off on a budget that doesn’t include new taxes on upper-income earners.
“What we are fighting for — and I'm a member of the Budget Committee — is the concept of shared sacrifice,” said Sanders, I-Vt. “No, you don't balance the budget on the backs of the sick and the elderly and the poor and the vulnerable. You do ask the wealthiest people in this country and the large corporations — many of whom are making huge profits and paying nothing in taxes — that they've got to contribute to deficit reduction as well.”
Sanders declined to comment specifically on why Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has indicated that Democrats won’t produce a budget in the near future. Reports have indicated that squabbles among the Democrats – with Sanders demanding more tax revenue, and moderates refusing to sign off any such plan – effectively deadlocked the committee.
“I have told Chairman Conrad, who has done a very good job, he has worked very hard on this, that I will not be supporting a budget that comes down on the backs of the middle class of working families. Yes, I believe and I will not support a budget that does not ask the wealthiest people in this country to pay their fair share of taxes, and does away with the huge loopholes that currently exist for corporations,” Sanders said.
The Republican budget, Sanders said, is “really laughable” with its push to preserve and extend tax cuts for the wealthy even while making deep cuts to Medicare, education, and environmental programs.
Sanders also urged President Obama to use an economic message that reflects the reality of a public that’s hurting: “Most Americans know is that the middle class is collapsing, has been collapsing for several decades now. … We can't forget about the very high unemployment, and we've got to create millions of good paying jobs.”
And Sanders called for the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq to be wound down this year.
“We are spending, or it's estimated we'll spend, about $100 billion in Afghanistan alone. This is our 10th year in that war. I think it is fair to say that now is the time to accelerate our troop departure,” he said. “I would rather invest in this country than in Iraq and Afghanistan. So I don't think you can leave tomorrow — either in Afghanistan or in Iraq — but I think we have to accelerate the departure of our troops, who in both countries have done an extraordinarily good job.”
Watch the full interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders HERE.
We also chatted about the latest on the scandal involved Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., with Politico’s Jonathan Martin, who pointed out that recent history suggests that Weiner can hang on to his seat for at least a little while.
Watch the discussion with Jonathan Martin HERE.