Bernie Sanders Blasts Democrats, Boehner Debt Ceiling Plan
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) blasted the deficit-cutting frenzy sparked by the need to raise the nation's borrowing limit by Aug. 2 in a fiery Wall Street Journal op-ed on Friday.
Congressional Republicans "have been fanatically determined to protect the interests of the wealthy and large multinational corporations so that they do not contribute a single penny toward deficit reduction," wrote Sanders.
While he's harsh on Republicans, Sanders didn't spare Democrats, either.
"President Obama and the Democrats have been extremely weak in opposing these right wing extremist proposals," wrote Sanders, admonishing Democratic leaders for being too willing to compromise on progressive issues such as entitlement programs and the Bush-era tax cuts.
Sanders had specific criticism for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) deficit plan, writing that it "includes $900 billion in cuts in areas such as education, health care, nutrition, affordable housing, child care and many other programs desperately needed by working families and the most vulnerable."
As the Associated Press reported on Friday, "No matter how the debt crisis ends, the economy will probably take a hit. The question is how big." The U.S. will either default, likely resulting in a spike in interest rates, or congressional negotiators will cut a deal that withdraws government spending that has helped prop up the economy.
Economic forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisors estimated that Reid's plan would cut annual economic growth by one-fourth of a point through September 2015 and that Boehner's bill would cut growth by a tenth of a point, AP reports.
Sanders' WSJ column echoed criticism from economist Robert Greenstein, founder and president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank. Greenstein wrote earlier this week that the Boehner plan "could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history."
Much of Greenstein's criticism of the GOP's deficit-reduction efforts centers on what he sees as an unfair reliance on cuts to entitlement programs to achieve target savings.
In a Thursday statement, Greenstein wrote:
The Boehner plan would essentially force policymakers to choose among cutting the incomes and health benefits of ordinary retirees, repealing the guts of health reform and leaving an estimated 34 million more Americans uninsured, and savaging the safety net for the poor -- or letting the nation default early next year.