A Tax Day Message from Bernie Sanders


Dear Sue and the Iowa Citizen Action Network,

We would like to be there with you tonight but we’re campaigning in Pennsylvania today. We’ll be back in Iowa very soon. Thank you for hosting this Tax Day event. You are raising some very important issues about how our tax dollars are being spent and how they are collected.

At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we need a progressive tax system in this country that is based on the ability to pay. It is unacceptable that major corporations have paid nothing in federal income taxes, and that corporate CEOs in this country often enjoy an effective tax rate that is lower than their staff. And we must have a government that invests in people and public services, not war, fossil fuels, and mass incarceration.

Question 1: ​War and military action have led to gigantic military expenditures and huge obligations in future budgets to service debt and provide crucial care for our veterans. Do you support reducing U.S. military spending and increasing spending for urgent social and human needs? What spending cuts or tax increases do you propose to accomplish this change in priorities?

Response: ​Yes. We will reduce military spending and increase spending for urgent social and human needs. That’s what this campaign is about. Today, the military-industrial-complex spends $700 billion a year on the military, more than the next ten nations combined. That is not right. We’re going to invest in affordable housing, we’re going to invest in public education, we’re going to invest in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. We’re not going to invest in never-ending wars.

When we are in the White House, we will:

  • Implement a foreign policy which focuses on democracy, human rights, diplomacy and peace, and economic fairness.
  • End U.S. support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, which has created the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe.
  • American troops have been in Afghanistan for nearly 18 years, the longest war in American history. Our troops have been in Iraq since 2003, and in Syria since 2015, and many other places. It is long past time for Congress to reassert its Constitutional authority over the use of force, to responsibly end these interventions and bring ourtroops home.

● Audit and drastically cut out-of-control pentagon spending.

Question 2:​ In light of recurring environmental disasters, like the floods currently being experienced in Iowa and Nebraska, how do we better use our tax dollars to prevent and mitigate the effects of the climate crisis?

Response:​ Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet. Yet the giant, multi-national fossil fuel corporations have spent hundreds of millions of dollars furthering their greed and protecting their profits at the expense of our climate and our future.

The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it clear that if we fail to substantially cut the amount of carbon in our atmosphere in under 11 years, the human, environmental, and economic costs will be severe and irreversible.

Climate change is not a problem we will have to worry about 50 years from now. Iowa, you know this already. Just look at the recent flooding along the Missouri, Mississippi, and other rivers in the state this spring. Climate change is already negatively impacting real estate values due to sea level​ rise and global​ agriculture and food security​ through changing water availability, flooding, and drought. These trends will only continue as global temperatures and sea levels continue to rise.

When we are in the White House, we will:

  • Pass a Green New Deal to save American families money and generate millions of jobs by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100% energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
  • Invest in infrastructure and programs to protect the frontline communities most vulnerable to extreme climate impacts like wildfires, sea level rise, drought, floods, and extreme weather like hurricanes.
  • Reduce carbon pollution emissions from our transportation system by building out high-speed passenger rail, electric vehicles, and public transit.
  • Ban fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure and keep oil, gas and coal in the ground by banning fossil fuel leases on public lands. End exports of coal, natural gas and crude oil.

Question 3: ​In the United States, income and wealth inequality of greatly increased over the past 50 years, while money in politics has led to greatly diminished tax burden on the wealthy. Do you agree that this is a priority to be addressed in federal tax policy? What specific tax changes would you propose to address the problem?

Response:​ Yes. Income inequality must be addressed if we plan on tackling any of the issues facing everyday Americans.

We can no longer accept 46 percent of all new income going to the top 1 percent, while millions of Americans are forced to work 2 or 3 jobs just to survive and over half of our people live paycheck to paycheck. We will no longer accept a situation in which, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, our younger generation will have a lower standard of living than their parents.

If we are serious about reforming the tax code and rebuilding the middle class, we have got to demand that the wealthiest Americans, large corporations and Wall Street pays their fair share in taxes.

When we are in the White House, we will:

  • Pass the For the 99.8 Percent Act to establish a progressive estate tax on multi-millionaire and billionaire inheritances.
  • Eliminate offshore tax scams through the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act.
  • Tax Wall Street speculators through the Inclusive Prosperity Act.
  • Scrap the income cap on Social Security payroll taxes through the Social Security Expansion Act so that millionaires and billionaires pay more into the system.
  • End special tax breaks on capital gains and dividends for the top 1 percent.
  • Substantially increase the top marginal tax rate on income above $10 million.

Close tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy and large corporations.

In conclusion, we have an enormous amount of work in front of us. I believe that if we stand together, if we don’t allow Trump and his friends to divide us up; we will win.

If we stand together as black and white, Latino, Asian American and Native American; we will win. If we stand together as gay and straight, native born and immigrant; we will win. If we stand together as rural and urban – north, south, east and west; we will win.

If we stand together, this country has an extraordinary future. Let’s make it happen.

For the Political Revolution,
Senator Bernie Sanders

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