By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday said the nation is facing perilous times, driven in part by the recent actions of President Donald Trump and Republican-led efforts to craft tax breaks for the rich and send as many as 24 million Americans off of health insurance.
Sanders, a sometimes-Democrat, sometimes-Independent from Vermont, joined congressional candidate Rob Quist in Missoula on Saturday, marking the first stop on a four-city campaign aimed at drawing out voters ahead of Montana’s special election next Thursday.
In doing so, Sanders took several shots at Trump and questioned the ethics of the nation’s leader, as well as the nation’s ruling party.
“I came here because we face some serious problems in this country,” Sanders said. “I’m not talking about serious problems like the special counsel investigating the possibility of collusion in the Trump campaign, the firing of the FBI director, or allegations the president may have shared with Russia classified information.”
Rather, Sanders said, he made the long flight from Washington, D.C., to Missoula to talk about the status quo in the nation’s capital and how it’s no longer serving the people.
It is, Sanders said, time to change the nation’s priorities.
“President Trump said during his campaign that he was going to stand for the working class of this country,” Sanders said. “Turns out, he wasn’t quite telling the truth. Look at the proposals of the Trump administration in terms of budget and tax ideas. He is not standing with working families. He is standing with the millionaire upper class.”
Sanders played on that theme through much of his 30-minute speech, delivered before roughly 4,000 people who had gathered at Quist’s campaign event in Missoula.
Among the issues, Sanders blasted the American Health Care Act, passed by Republicans in the House of Representatives last month (see related story), and questioned the consequences of Trump’s proposal to repeal the estate tax.
Doing so, Sanders said, would provide up to $300 billion in tax breaks to top earners while more than 99 percent of Americans would see no benefit at all.
Among the beneficiaries, Sanders said, the nation’s wealthiest family – the Waltons – would receive a $50 billion tax break while the Koch Brothers and their family would get $30 billion.
The Trump family would receive around $4 billion in tax breaks, Sanders added.
“At the same time as they’re talking about unbelievable tax breaks for the wealthiest in the country, Trump’s budget says they have to cut Head Start, child care, Pell grants and WIC – a program for low-income women and their babies,” Sanders said.
“It really haunts me that we have people in Congress who think it’s acceptable for billionaires to get massive tax beaks and cut programs that are desperately needed by children, the elderly and the sick.”
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org