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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript: CPI and Social Security

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SCHULTZ: Thanks for staying with us tonight.

All right. Let`s just -- everybody get on the same page here, OK?
Let`s be brilliant on the basics.

Point one, the president is clearly hoping to strike a grand bargain
on the budget. But the deal shouldn`t be made on the backs of the middle-
class voters who kept him in office for the next four years. The president
met last night with nearly a dozen Republican senators, which is good, to
discuss the deficit and the potential savings of what? Chained CPI.

Here we go. Here comes the cave. The president is offering
Republicans a potential cut in Social Security benefits based on the
consumer price index?

The White House Web site estimates chained CPI could save $130
billion. Really? Hold it right there.

Why do people who have paid into a program their entire working life
all of a sudden have to serve up $130 billion because we went to war and
didn`t pay for it? Experts here on this show have said repeatedly chained
CPI is going to hurt seniors. Social Security should not even be on the
table. It is not the problem. It is not the issue that created the
problem that he with face financially in this country.

Many of the Republicans who want to gut Social Security are
responsible for the financial mess George W. Bush left this country. Close
your eyes and you`ll hit a devastating policy. It`s like a dart board. No
matter where you hit you've got a bull`s eye.

W. spent like no -- like there was absolutely no tomorrow. He refused
to regulate Wall Street. In fact, wanted to deregulate it, let them go
wild in the housing market, gave us big pharma, ineffective tax cuts that
did not increase the tax base and create a bunch of jobs like they said it
would. And, of course, put two wars on the American credit card for the
next generation.

And let`s just get it straight, folks. Since 9/11, we`ve spent almost
$1.5 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there`s a troubling
new report. Much of the money has been wasted.

Now, the special inspector general says the United States has wasted
$8 billion on failed reconstruction projects -- you know, nation building
over there. We`ve wasted more than 13 percent of the money that we`ve sent
over to Iraq. Now, we`re spending billions on roads and bridges overseas
while here in America, we can`t get the politicians to work together on an
infrastructure package when we`ve got bridges falling down, killing people?

When the Republicans say that they can`t afford infrastructure because
of the deficit, they should remember that spending on both wars makes up
half of what the country`s current deficit is. This is the president who
overspent, drove up the deficit, and forced us into the current crisis.

And let`s not forget, he tried to privatize Social Security. And that is
what the big golden goose is for them. They want to privatize everything,
from the post office to the big three -- you name it.

If President Obama -- that`s right -- if President Obama cuts any of
the big three, he is going to be turning his back on the middle class,
because Social Security was not on the negotiating table when the Obama
team was out there saying that they`re advocating for the middle class.
This will be his legacy if he caves to these Republicans, who for
generations have wanted to go after the big three.

Now, am I getting off the Obama bandwagon? Let`s see how all this
goes.

Joining me tonight, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Senator, good to have you with us.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Good to be here.

SCHULTZ: Is chained CPI a bad idea?

SANDERS: It is a horrendous idea. It is totally absurd because for a
start, Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit.
Social Security today has a $2.7 trillion surplus, can pay out every
benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 20 years.

Just today, Congressman Pete DeFazio and I introduced legislation to
make Social Security strong for the next 50 years on taxable income
starting at $250,000. You do that, it hits the top 1 1/2 percent. Social
Security is strong for the next 50 years.

Second of all, this so-called chained CPI, let me tell you what it
would do, Ed. If you`re 65 today, by the time you are 75, you`re going to
be losing about $650 a year. Now, if you`re living on 15,000 bucks a year,
that is a lot of money.

But it`s not just seniors on Social Security. If you can believe it,
this chained CPI will make devastating cuts for disabled veterans. The men
and women who lost arms and legs in Iraq and Afghanistan, the widows of
people who were killed in Iraq -- it will mean significant cuts for them.
Do we really want to balance the budget on the backs of disabled vets
and seniors making $15,000, $20,000 a year --

SCHULTZ: Yes.

SANDERS: -- on Social Security? I think not.

SCHULTZ: Senator, will Republicans compromise on the budget if
Democrats don`t offer cuts to the big three?

And this really is cutting to the chase here. They say that there`s
no revenue. Although some senators have said, well, maybe we can find some
revenue somewhere but we`ve got to have big cuts in the big three.

This is the ideological fight. Isn`t this what the election was all
about?

SANDERS: Absolutely.

SCHULTZ: So back to my question. I mean, can the Republicans
compromise on a budget if they can`t touch the big three?

SANDERS: Ed, our job and the president`s job, instead of caving in on
Social Security and veterans` programs and Medicare, our job is to do
exactly what the American people want us to do and make an offer that the
Republicans can`t refuse. And that is rally the American people who
overwhelmingly understand that number one, the wealthiest people are doing
phenomenally well in this country and their effective tax rates are very
low. That one out of four major profitable corporations in this country
pays nothing in taxes.

Bank of America a few years ago, which has 200 subsidiaries in the
Cayman Islands, paid zero in federal taxes. In fact, they got a rebate
from the IRS.

SCHULTZ: Republicans have no problems with that.

SANDERS: They have no problems with that. They don`t want to ask the
wealthy or large corporations to pay a nickel more in taxes.

We make that case to the American people, and I think the Republicans
cave.

SCHULTZ: Radio show today, guy asks me what`s fair? I said, try
paying something. When you`re paying nothing -- but this is how they
think.

And I just believe the president has to hear from liberals and
progressives across this country. He needs to know that we are behind him.
We want him to stand strong on this.

And if we can`t get a deal, what do we do, Senator? Just go to the
mid-terms and run this thing all over again?

SANDERS: Look, you are dealing with a major ideological split in this
country. It takes us back to the 1932 presidential election, Hoover versus
Roosevelt. On this issue, Ed, we have the vast majority of the American
people behind us.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

SANDERS: We control the White House. We control the Senate. It
would be criminal to cave on this issue.

SCHULTZ: Criminal to cave. I agree. And I think all Democrats need
to stand up and remind the president what this is all about. Having dinner
with these guys, you can`t trust them. And we`ll talk about that in the
next segment when it comes to filibuster.

Senator Bernie Sanders, great to have you with us tonight. Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you.


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