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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Senator Sanders Named To Special Budget Panel

This special budget panel was created last week as part of the deal to reopen the federal government for several months.

Sanders is a member of the Senate Budget committee, and this new position will put him right in the middle of a national debate over the proper level of federal spending and appropriate tax policies.

Sanders says one of his goals on the new committee is to protect programs that are priorities for working families.

“The middle class is in significant trouble,” said Sanders. “So if the question is do I intend to balance the budget on the backs of working families, the elderly the children sick people the poor no I don’t intend to do that.”

Do I think that there are ways to do deficit reduction that are fair, that do not hurt working families and the elderly ? I surely do - Senator Bernie Sanders

Sanders says there’s no doubt that Congress can raise important new revenue by focusing on a segment of the business community.

“When you have one of out four corporations in this country paying zero, zero, in federal income tax including enormously profitable corporations,” said Sanders. “When we are spending on defense almost as much as the entire rest of the world combined do I think that there are ways to do deficit reduction that are fair that do not hurt working families and the elderly I surely do.”

Sanders readily admits that he and House Budget chairman Paul Ryan don’t share many spending priorities but he thinks this special panel can reach a consensus on a long term budget plan if the American people get involved in the process.

“I suspect that we’re not going to get everything that I want but I think we’re going to do pretty good in coming up with a new budget which ends this disastrous sequestration,” said Sanders. “And which addresses our budget needs in a way that are fair to the middle class and working families.”

If Congress fails to adopt a new long term budget plan by the end of the year, a second round of automatic cuts will go into place in the middle of January.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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