I proposed to raise the tax rate on any individual earning $500,000 a year or more or any family earning $1 million a year or more by 10 percent. That increase in the tax rate, from 35 percent to 45 percent, would raise more than $300 billion in the next five years, almost half the cost of the bailout. If what all the supporters of this legislation say is correct, that the government will get back some of its money when the market calms down and the government sells some of the assets it has purchased; then, $300 billion should be sufficient to make sure that 99.7 percent of taxpayers do not have to pay one nickel for this bailout.
Most of my constituents did not earn a $38 million bonus in 2005 or make over $100 million in total compensation in three years, as did Henry Paulson, the current secretary of the Treasury, and former CEO of Goldman Sachs. Most of my constituents did not make $354 million in total compensation over the past five years as did Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers. Most of my constituents did not cash out $60 million in stock after a $29 billion bailout for Bear Stearns, after that failing company was bought out by J.P. Morgan Chase. Most of my constituents did not get a $161 million severance package as E. Stanley O’Neill, former CEO Merrill Lynch did.
Last week, I placed on my web site a letter to Secretary Paulson in support of my amendment. It said that it should be those people best able to pay for this bailout, those people who have made out like bandits in recent years – they should be asked to pay for this bailout. It should not be the middle class. To my amazement, some 48,000 people cosigned this petition, and the names keep coming in. The message is very simple: “We had nothing to do with causing this bailout. We are already under economic duress. Go to those people who have made out like bandits. Go to those people who have caused this crisis and ask them to pay for the bailout.”
The time has come to assure our constituents in Vermont and all over this country that we are listening and understand their anger and their frustration. The time has come to say that we have the courage to stand up to all of the powerful financial institution lobbyists, who are running amok all over the Capitol building, from the Chamber of Commerce to the American Bankers Association, to the Business Roundtable, all of these groups who make huge campaign contributions, spend all kinds of money on lobbyists – they’re here loud and clear. They don’t want to pay for this bailout; they want middle America to pay for it. (Truthout/ Posted by Bulatlat)
Bernie Sanders won as an independent candidate for senator of Vermont. He delivered this speech during the US Senate deliberations on the $700 billion bailout plan.