Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said a special congressional committee that met today for the first time should promote jobs and the economy without cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other benefits for working families.
"At a time when less than 10 percent of the American people approve of the job that Congress is doing, it's time that we started to listen to what the American people want us to do," Sanders said at the session.
Sanders was appointed to the joint Senate and House conference committee working to come up with a long-term budget plan by Dec. 13 in order to avert another government shutdown.
Sanders said Congress should listen to Americans who say in poll after poll that creating jobs and improving the economy should be the top priority for Congress.
To reduce deficits, Sanders added, strong majorities of Americans want the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. According to a Hart Research Associates survey last January, two-thirds of Americans believe the top 2 percent should pay more in taxes and 64 percent say large corporations should pay more in taxes than they do today.
Americans also have been clear on what they do not want. Significant majorities oppose cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits. A recent National Journal/United Technologies poll found that 81 percent do not want to cut Medicare benefits at all; 76 percent don't want any cuts to Social Security benefits and 60 percent oppose any Medicaid benefit cuts.
"It is time to develop a federal budget that is moral and makes good economic sense. It is time to develop a budget that invests in our future by creating jobs, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and expanding educational opportunities. It is time for those who have so much to help with deficit reduction," Sanders said. "It is time that we listen to what the American people want."