At a press conference today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) shredded the Republican budget plans while taking Republicans to task for cutting Social Security benefits for 1 million disabled veterans.
During the press conference, Sen. Sanders said:
I must say that the budget passed last year by the Republican House which called for massive cuts in Medicare,Medicaid, education, nutrition, affordable housing, and other programs impacting the lives of working Americans, while providing huge tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations, is a budget approach which moves us in exactly the wrong direction. And, needless to say, I will do everything that I can to oppose a similar type of budget if that is what the Republicans will be proposing this year.
So, here we are. The middle class is in decline. Millions of seniors are struggling to pay for their food, their medicine and their heat. On the very first day of Congress, the Republicans in the House made a change in its rules that could lead to a 20 percent cut in Social Security disability benefits for 11 million Americans, including 2 million children, over a million veterans, and over 150,000 surviving spouses. In other words, in the midst of massive wealth and income inequality, the Republicans want to make massive cuts in a program that benefits some of the most vulnerable people in this country.
Let’s be clear, what the Republican plan is. What they are saying is that either there will be cuts to the disability program, or if that fund is to be replenished, the money will have to come from cuts to Social Security retirement benefits. And, House Budget Chairman Price is already talking about including Social Security cuts in the Budget Resolution that he will be writing. Needless to say, that is totally unacceptable. When we talk about Social Security today what we should be talking about is expanding benefits not cutting benefits. And, I and other members of the Senate are working on legislation to do just that. And, at a time when multimillionaires pay the same amount of money into the Social Security Trust Fund as someone making $118,500 that cap on taxable income must be raised.
The idea that Republicans are poised to cut benefits for 11 million disabled Americans was bad enough and repulsive to Americans on all ends of the political spectrum. What is even worse is that Republicans are planning to cut benefits for men and women who were disabled while risking their lives in service of their country. The Social Security Disability program is paid into by every worker in America. Sanders pointed out that a young worker has a 33% of receiving these benefits at some point in their life.
Veterans who sacrificed their country should not have their benefits cut. People who paid into the program should not have their benefits cut. Disabled Americans, who are living on a few dollars, can’t afford to have their benefits cut. Congressional Republicans don’t have the right to make these cuts to the disability program. The money that has been paid into the system doesn’t belong to them. Those funds were paid into the system by workers who expect their benefits to be there.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) recently tried to claim that half of the people who are receiving Social Security Disability benefits can work. The reality is that the Disability application process is a difficult one. Fifty-nine percent of those who apply for disability benefits are rejected.
Sen. Sanders was right to go on the attack against the Republican agenda. Veterans and all disabled Americans deserve better from their country than the treatment that they are receiving from Republicans. Liberals, conservatives, and everyone in the middle should stand up in united outrage against the Republican scheme to take from those who can least afford to lose precious resources.