Letter from Gov. Howard Dean, M.D. Founder, Democracy for America
I have known Bernie Sanders for more than 20 years. I have often worked with him in Vermont, but when he took to the floor of the Senate last week to stand up and denounce the extension of the Bush tax cuts for billionaires in an unconventional nine-hour filibuster, I’d never been more honored to call him my friend and my Senator.
Bernie is a progressive hero. He has spent his entire life fighting for the poor and the middle class, just as he is now in this tax cut fight.
Make no mistake about it; this tax cut deal that President Obama struck with Republicans may be good short-term politics, but it’s not the best course for the country. It’s not fiscally responsible in addressing the deficit, the biggest long-term threat to America. There is no shared pain in this agreement. Instead, this is the easy way out for everybody.
Bernie Sanders didn’t back down against long odds — he had the backbone to stand up and fight for what’s right. Washington needs more bold leadership like Bernie’s. Let’s make sure that every Democrat in Washington gets the message: when you stand up and fight, we’ll have your back.
This isn’t just about tax cuts for the rich either. The deal includes borrowing $120 billion from China and other sources in order to make up a shortfall in revenue for the Social Security Trust Fund caused by the additional payroll tax cut.
We all know Republicans are chomping at the bit to destroy Social Security. Cutting funding will only embolden them to step up their attacks to cut benefits, raise the retirement age, and privatize the program entirely.
Social Security is a cornerstone of the American middle class yet Republicans, who will control the House of Representatives in 2011, want to destroy it. This payroll tax cut sets us up to make it that much harder to stop them. So while most in Washington are ignoring the real damage this bill could cause in the years to come, Bernie has made it a central part of his opposition.
Today, we can send a message even Washington will understand by supporting a progressive hero for standing up for America.
Bernie stood up for us. Let’s make sure everyone in Washington knows we have his back.
And thank you, Margot, for everything you do.
Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.
Founder, Democracy for America
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