Bernie Sanders Accuses GOP of Attempting to 'Increase Taxes on Working Families'

Senator Bernie Sanders, a progressive independent from Vermont, accused Republican colleagues of attempting to "increase taxes on working families," as they continue to negotiate with Democrats and President Joe Biden over the administration's proposed American Jobs Plan.

Biden and Democrats have been holding talks with Republican lawmakers over a series of infrastructure proposals included in the president's American Jobs Plan. Although Biden's initial plan was estimated to cost more than $2 trillion, Republicans have suggested they'd be willing to compromise and pass something costing $600 to $800 billion. However, it appears that both sides remain far apart when it comes to how to cover the cost of the infrastructure legislation.

"Unbelievable but true: The same Republicans who voted for trillions in tax breaks for the top 1% and large corporations, now want to increase taxes on working families through user fees, more toll roads and higher gas taxes while cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats and serves as the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, tweeted on Saturday.

Unbelievable but true: The same Republicans who voted for trillions in tax breaks for the top 1% and large corporations, now want to increase taxes on working families through user fees, more toll roads and higher gas taxes while cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 15, 2021

As Sanders highlighted, several top Republicans have proposed covering the infrastructure costs through a hike in user fees or gas taxes, as has traditionally been done. However, Biden and Democrats have pushed back against this suggestion, arguing it would be a tax that would fall most heavily on the middle class and lower-income workers.

Meanwhile, Biden has called for raising taxes only on households earning more than $400,000 per year as well as increasing corporate taxes.

"The president's pledge and his commitment, his line in the sand, his red line, whatever you want to call it, is that he will not raise taxes for people making less than $400,000 a year," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday. "User fees that have been proposed out there would violate that."

Earlier this month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested Republicans are only willing to do infrastructure if it's paid for by user fees. He also dismissed Biden's efforts to roll back the 2017 tax cuts passed by Republican lawmakers under former President Donald Trump.

"We're open to doing a roughly $600 billion package, which deals with what all of us agree is infrastructure and to talk about how to pay for that in any way other than reopening the 2017 tax reform bill," McConnell said on May 3 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The 2017 tax cuts largely benefitted the wealthiest Americans and corporations, while also significantly driving up the national debt.

McConnell went on to say that GOP lawmakers are "happy to look for traditional infrastructure pay-fors, which means the users participate."

Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) accused Republicans of attempting to raise taxes on working families in a Saturday tweet. In this photo, the progressive lawmaker speaks to reporters in the Senate Subway during a roll call vote on April 13 in Washington, D.C. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Despite Republican pushback, polling shows that the majority of American voters are supportive of raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. A survey conducted by Morning Consult at the end of March showed that 54 percent of voters backed raising the corporate tax rate and taxes on those earning more than $400,000 to pay for infrastructure.

Among Democratic voters, 73 percent backed the hike in taxes, as did 52 percent of independent voters and about a third of Republicans.

Newsweek reached out to McConnell's press secretary for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.