Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today on the 11-day-old government shutdown and the debt ceiling:
"It is imperative that Republicans stop holding the American people hostage and let us reopen the government and pay our bills. Frankly, given the enormous problems facing this country, it is beyond belief that we have wasted weeks debating whether, for the first time in our history, the largest economy in the world should default and plunge the world into a severe financial crisis.
"Yesterday, the Republicans were using the Affordable Care Act as the reason why they had to shut down the government and not pay our bills. Today, it's "reforming' Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. What will it be tomorrow?
"Social Security, which is independently funded through the payroll tax, has nothing to do with the deficit. The deficit -- which has been cut in half since 2009 -- was significantly caused by the Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the Wall Street-induced recession, which led to a significant decline in federal revenue.
"The Republicans and Paul Ryan cannot be allowed to get their way by limiting discussions to "entitlement reform.' We must also be talking about how we create the millions of jobs our economy desperately needs, how we address the crisis of low-wage employment and raise the minimum wage to a living wage, among many other issues facing the disappearing middle class."