The Bush administration’s $700 billion financial bailout is roughly what the United States has spent so far on the Iraq war and would raise the national debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion. Despite the enormous scale of the request, the Bush administration is demanding that Congress “place no restrictions on the administration other than requiring semiannual reports to Congress.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is one of the few people questioning how the country will pay for this $700 billion package. In an interview with ThinkProgress today, Sanders said that he believes that the wealthiest Americans — who have reaped enormous benefits under the Bush administration — should foot the bill:
[President Bush] has given huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country, and now all these terribly conservative folks, who pride themselves on financial responsibility, want to add $700 billion.
My view: It is the fiscally responsible thing to pay for this — and given the fact that the people on top have done well [under Bush] — through a progressive tax. [...]
I’ve believed that Bush’s tax breaks for the wealthy should be repealed for some time. The middle class has shrunk; the rich have become richer. [...] They are paying a lower tax rate than working class people.
Specifically, Sanders is proposing a “five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers,” which he says he would “yield more than $300 billion in revenue.”
ThinkProgress also asked Sanders about McCain’s claims that for the past two years, he has “warned” federal officials of problems such as a potential subprime mortgage crisis. Sanders said that since joining the Senate, he has heard very little from McCain on this subject:
Since I have been in the Senate, McCain has been here very rarely. He’s been campaigning, so I have never heard him suggest we’re heading toward the financial crisis we’re facing.
It’s one thing to be critical of those two institutions. It’s a leap to say from that, we’re going to be where we are today.