Sen. Bernie Sanders says the US needs 'progressive taxation' on the wealthy to pay for Biden's infrastructure proposal

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders called for “progressive taxation” to fund Biden’s spending proposals.
  • “Biden says the floor should be $400,000,” he noted. “Nobody under that should pay more in taxes.”
  • Sanders also brought up the need for health care reform and tackling student loan debt.
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Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Sunday said that the US needs to institute “progressive taxation” on inherited wealth to help fund President Joe Biden’s spending proposals, notably a $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sanders stressed that it was imperative that the country deals with pertinent and longstanding economic issues facing the country.

“We have massive income and wealth inequality,” he said. “Half our people live on paycheck to paycheck. We’ve got to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. You’ve got to do that.”

Progressive legislators sought to include a $15 minimum wage bill provision in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package while it was being debated in Congress earlier this year, but Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled that it could not be included in the final bill under budget reconciliation rules. 

Sanders, who has long said that the nation’s infrastructure was in dire need of repair, stressed that Biden’s spending plans would be beneficial to the American public.

“We have infrastructure that is collapsing,” he said. “We’ve got to address the existential threat of climate change. When you make those investments, we create millions of good-paying jobs.”

Read more: Here’s how Biden is reshaping gender and reproductive rights with policies that are even more progressive than past Democratic presidents

Reminiscent of his 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, Sanders also brought up the need for health care reform and student loan debt, issues that progressives in Congress have not forgotten about.

“We are the only major country not to guarantee health care to all people as a right, the only major country not to have paid family and medical leave,” he said. “We pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Hundreds of thousands of kids can’t afford to go to college, and millions leave school deeply in debt. Well, you know what? You’ve got to address those issues.”

Sanders, who chairs the powerful Senate Banking Committee, then went after major corporations that he says haven’t paid any federal income taxes and again called for instituting a progressive estate tax rate starting at 45% on inherited wealth of more than $3.5 million. 

“Warren Buffett, one of the richest guys in the world, reminds us that the effective tax rate for working families is higher than it is for the billionaire class,” he said. “I do think we need progressive taxation, which says to the very rich — Biden says the cap should be, the floor should be $400,000. Nobody under that should pay more in taxes.”

He added: “The very rich and large corporations should start paying their fair share of taxes to help us rebuild America and create the jobs that we need.”

When Sanders was asked if he would back the spending proposals if they don’t come with the desired tax increases, the senator said that “the devil is in the details.”

“I think once we start discussing these issues in the Congress, there will be differences of opinion,” he said. “I think there is a consensus, at least within the Democratic caucus, that now is the time to start protecting working families and the middle class and not just the 1 percent.”

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