Bernie Sanders Slams Trump's Sweeping Budget Cuts As "Immoral"

by Chris Tognotti
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration released the president's new budget proposal on Tuesday, and boy is it something. In addition to containing an accounting flaw of $2 trillion ― about as far from a negligible mistake as it gets ― it also aggressively slashes the social safety net and funding for the poor, cutting Medicaid by $800 billion over the next decade, something President Trump promised during his campaign that he'd never do. And a certain senator from Vermont isn't letting anyone forget about that: here's Bernie Sanders' fiery response to the Trump Budget.

Sanders, 75, remains one of the most popular political figures in America today, and has been stumping for Montana congressional candidate Rob Quist, who's waging a tight race in a traditionally red district. Part of the reason he's so popular, of course, is his hard-charging and unapologetic economic justice platform, including the protection and expansion of social services for the poor and downtrodden.

Which means in moments like these, when Trump puts his name to a budget that flagrantly violates one of the key campaign promises he made to his supporters, Sanders rates as perhaps the strongest and most credible critic in Congress. In a lengthy statement sent out on Tuesday afternoon, Sanders blasted the proposal as "immoral," saying it'd cause "an enormous amount of pain for the most vulnerable people in our nation."

Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Here's Sanders' statement on the Trump budget, in full.

The Trump budget introduced today constitutes a massive transfer of wealth from working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor to the top one percent. It follows in the footsteps of the Trump-Ryan health care bill which gives huge tax breaks to the wealthiest few, while throwing 24 million Americans off of their health insurance and dramatically raising premiums for older workers.
This is a budget which says that if you are the richest family in America, the Walton family, you can get up to a $53 billion tax break through the repeal of the estate tax. $53 billion tax break. But at the same time, it says that if you are a lower income senior citizen you will not be able to get the one nutritious meal a day you now receive through the Meals on Wheels program, or the help you desperately need if you are disabled.
This is a budget that says that if you are the second wealthiest family in America, the Koch brothers family – a family that has contributed many hundreds of millions into the Republican Party – you may get up to a $34 billion tax break. But at the same time, if you are a working class student trying to figure out how you could possibly afford college, your dream of a college education will evaporate because of major cuts to student financial assistance programs.
This is a budget which says that if you are a member of the Trump family you may receive a tax break of up to $4 billion, but if you are a child of a working class family you could well lose the health insurance you currently have through the Children’s Health Insurance program and massive cuts to Medicaid. At a time when we remain the only country on earth not to guarantee health care to all, this budget makes a bad situation worse in terms of health care.
In other words, this is a budget that provides massive tax breaks for billionaires and corporate CEOs and massive cuts to programs that tens of millions of struggling Americans depend upon.
When Donald Trump campaigned for president, he told the American people that he would be a different type of Republican. That he would take on the political and economic establishment. That he would stand up for working people. That he understood the pain that families all over this country were feeling.
Well, sadly, this budget exposes all of that verbiage for what it really was – just cheap and dishonest campaign rhetoric that was meant to get votes. Nothing more than that.
At a time when the very rich are already getting much richer while the middle class continues to shrink, this is a budget for the billionaire class, for Wall Street, for corporate CEOs, and for the wealthiest people in this country.
This is a budget which will make it harder for our children to get a decent education, harder for working families to get the health care they desperately need, harder for families to put food on the table, harder to protect our environment and harder for the elderly to live out their retirement years in dignity.
This is a budget that is immoral and that will cause an enormous amount of pain for the most vulnerable people in our nation.
This is a budget that will be rejected by the American people and must not see the light of day here in Congress.

Needless to say, that's a very strong statement from a senator who knows precisely how much credibility and how strong a track record he has on the relevant issues. According to a Harvard-Harris survey in April, Sanders boasts an approval rating of 57 percent, and while that might not sound shocking, it's a lot higher than most. In fact, amid the 16 Trump administration officials and congressional leaders polled, Sanders came out on top, according to The Hill.

Sanders also commented on the budget on Twitter, describing it as "just cruel" that Trump would break such a core campaign promise and gut Medicaid funding.

Sanders has been needling and reminding Trump for months about his dramatic campaign promises about Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security ― he staunchly opposed entitlement cuts, something that set him apart from the GOP establishment in the early months of his campaign, and ostensibly earned him support from many white working-class voters (although other factors like racism played huge roles). Now, however, between cuts to Medicare in the American Health Care Act and cuts to Medicaid in his proposed budget, Trump seems to have totally betrayed those promises.