Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) denounced the Republican Party’s economic plans on Thursday, calling Republicans out for pursuing moves like repealing the estate tax, which would only serve to further consolidate wealth within the richest groups of U.S. society.
At a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek and congressional candidate Val Hoyle in Oregon, Sanders sharply criticized Republicans for wanting to repeal the estate tax — the tax on property passed onto a person’s heirs when they die. Because there is a relatively high exemption amount for the estate tax of about $13 million for individuals and $26 million for couples, the tax largely only affects the richest Americans.
“The estate tax applies only to the top one-tenth of one percent [of Americans],” he said. “If we repealed it, which is what Mitch McConnell and Republicans want to do … $1.75 trillion in tax breaks to the top one-tenth of one percent.”
“And then, in order to pay for this, they’ve got another brilliant idea. In this state and in Vermont, you’ve got elderly people struggling to pay for their prescription drugs, struggling to heat their homes and these guys want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” he continued, to loud boos from the audience.
He went on to point out that this would benefit certain people to a huge extent, allowing dynastic wealth to stay within a small number of families rather than being, to some small extent, redistributed among the rest of the population.
“If this repeal of the estate tax went into effect, Elon Musk’s family, they would get a tax break of $83 billion,” he said. “Now, frankly, I don’t have anything against Elon Musk’s kids, I don’t know who they are, I have nothing against them. But they don’t deserve to get $83 billion.”
Indeed, Republicans are seeking to implement a number of blatantly regressive tax and economic policies if they take the House, which polls show they are favored to do. Last year, top Republicans unveiled a bill that would repeal the estate tax — a move clearly aimed at allowing billionaires and the richest Americans to consolidate their wealth while sapping the government of needed funds.
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans have released an economic plan that includes proposals to repeal prescription drug cost-saving measures and provisions to make Affordable Care Act premiums more expensive, moves that would pilfer money from the bank accounts of the working class.
Republicans have also threatened to slash Social Security and Medicare, two of the most effective anti-poverty programs in the country, if they take back the House. They have laid out plans to hike the eligibility age and make it ever harder for future generations to have a chance at reaching retirement.
As such, Sanders emphasized the importance of young people and progressives in fighting back against the greed of corporations and the wealthy in order to build a more equitable future.
While calling for strong voter turnout in this election, Sanders said, “I’m gonna be honest with you here, and maybe some of my friends here are gonna be a little offended, but the Democratic Party has not been strong enough in fighting for working families.”
“We need you, your generation, from coast to coast to put pressure on Democratic leadership, to say, ‘To hell with the corporate PACs, stand up and fight for working families,’” he continued.
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