* updated with comment from Sen. Patrick Leahy *
* updated x2 below *
In an interview on MSNBC's "The Ed Show", U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) all but uttered the "f-word" when asked if he would stop the proposed deal to extend tax cuts to even the wealthiest U.S. citizens.
By "f-word" I mean "filibuster".
"I will do whatever I can to see that 60 votes are not acquired to pass this piece of legislation," Sanders said in response to a deal crafted by the White House and legislative leaders.
The deal, roughly, would allow all of the tax cuts enacted under Pres. George W. Bush to remain in place for all income filers. In exchange, unemployment benefits would be extended for another year and a two percent payroll tax cut would be enacted.
"Will you you fillibuster this?" asked host Ed Schultz.
"I will do whatever I can on this. This is a very, very bad agreement," Sanders added. "I think we've got to hold tough on this, hold firm on this and not concede to Republicans who have no inclination to compromise; they want it all for their rich friends."
You can view the entire exchange between Schultz and Sanders here.
Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) also fired a salvo late Monday in response to the deal outlined by Pres. Barack Obama, calling on Obama and the Democratic leadership not to give in to the GOP demands to extend the tax cuts to the wealthiest two percent of tax filers.
Welch is circulating a letter in Congress hoping to encourage other Democrats to vote against the deal. He plans to deliver the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tomorrow.
"We oppose acceding to Republican demands to extend the Bush tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires for two reasons," writes Welch. "First, it is fiscally irresponsible. Second, it is grossly unfair. Without a doubt, the very same people who support this addition to our debt will oppose raising the debt ceiling to pay for it. We support extending tax cuts in full to 98 percent of American taxpayers, as the President initially proposed. He should not back down. Nor should we."
Here's the full text of Welch's letter to Pelosi:
We oppose acceding to Republican demands to extend the Bush tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires for two reasons.
First, it is fiscally irresponsible. Adding $700 billion to our national debt, as this proposal would do, handcuffs our ability to offer a balanced plan to achieve fiscal stability without a punishing effect on our current commitments, including Social Security and Medicare.
Second, it is grossly unfair. This proposal will hurt, not help, the majority of Americans in the middle class and those working hard to get there. Even as Republicans seek to add $700 billion to our national debt, they oppose extending unemployment benefits to workers and resist COLA increases to seniors.
Without a doubt, the very same people who support this addition to our debt will oppose raising the debt ceiling to pay for it.
We support extending tax cuts in full to 98 percent of American taxpayers, as the President initially proposed. He should not back down. Nor should we.
* Update *
In a statement issued Saturday, Sen. Patrick Leahy said he does oppose extending tax cut to the top two percent of wage earners.
"This is a time when sensible choices are necessary to protect the public's interests and our national interests. Many of them will be far more difficult than this choice is," said Leahy. "The responsible choice is to extend tax relief for the middle-income Americans who need it most, and not to renew tax cuts for the upper incomes of the wealthiest, who have benefited the most for so long."
Leahy will have more to say later today after Vice President Joe Biden meets with Democratic senators.
* Update x 2 *
After meeting with Vice Pres. Biden, Leahy issued this statement:
I strongly favor tax cuts for working and middle income Americans but I am not willing to add at least $700 billion to the deficit to give tax breaks to multi-millionaires. One of the biggest mistakes in the last administration was to wage two wars without paying for them while cutting taxes for the most wealthy.
I will support President Obama when he is right and oppose the President when he is wrong. I feel the President is wrong to make this deal.
I am first and foremost a Vermonter and I will express my Vermont values. This deal is wrong for most Vermonters, and it is wrong for our country.
Additionally, it appears as if Rep. Welch was ahead of the curve in the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled that the Democratic caucus does not favor extending tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. For more, read this report from The Hill.
After hearing the president's remarks, Welch issued this statement:
The President said the American people agree with his opposition to extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. He’s right, and so are the American people. That’s why we should take this fight to them – not walk off the field after the seventh inning.
“There are two fatal flaws to the President’s plan. First, it will put our country in a fiscal straightjacket by adding $900 billion to the national debt, severely limiting our ability to fight for middle class priorities next year. Second, it will empower the Republican leadership to fight every last one of our progressive priorities, arguing that the country can’t afford it.
Ironically, the President will be proving them right.
It’s the same trap the Republican leadership set so effectively when they put two wars, a prescription drug program and the Bush tax cuts on the credit card. The Republican leadership transformed the record surplus of the Clinton administration to the record deficit of the Bush administration, and they blamed Democrats for doing so.
Before the ink is dry on this deal, the Republican leaders who demanded its passage will vilify the President as a reckless spender who just added a trillion dollars to the national debt. Then they will vote against raising the debt ceiling.
Not to be outdone, Sen. Sanders issued this statement after hearing the president's remarks about the deal:
In my view, it is a moral outrage that at a time when this country has a $13.8 trillion national debt, a collapsing middle class and a growing gap between the very rich and everybody else that the Republicans would deny extended unemployment benefits to 2 million workers who are desperately struggling to pay their bills and maintain their dignity. It is also beyond comprehension that the Republicans would hold hostage the entire middle class of this country so that millionaires and billionaires would receive huge tax breaks. In my view, that is not what this country is about and it is not what the American people want to see. Our job is to save the disappearing middle class, not lower taxes for people who are already extraordinarily wealthy and increase the national debt that our children and grandchildren would have to pay.
The immediate political task in front of us is to rally the American people so that in the next several weeks we can find at least a few Republicans who will join us in saying no to increasing the deficit by giving tax breaks to the wealthy and no to holding the unemployed and the middle class hostage.
I believe that we have the American people on our side on this issue. My office, and I come from a small state, has received more than 600 calls today, 99 percent of them in opposition to this so-called compromise that the president negotiated with the Republicans.
I will do everything in my power to stand up for the American middle class and defeat this agreement.