Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders appeared on the Ed Schultz Show and would not rule out a filibuster of the deal just reached between President Obama and Republicans on the extension of the Bush tax cuts. I don't see him necessarily following through on the threat, but he may very well be able to force some more concessions from the Republicans. He manged to get some improvements made to the health care bill by holding out on his support. I imagine we might see a similar scenario take place here.
SCHULTZ: Joining me now is the firebrand Independent, Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator, sketchy details on what they have agreed to. You heard what I said. Is this a deal with the devil financially? What do you think?
SANDERS: I think it is an absolute disaster and an insult to the vast majority of the American people to be talking about giving huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country, driving up our deficit, and increasing the growing gap between the very rich and everybody else. Millionaires and billionaires do not need huge tax deductions. That`s the simple truth.
And the fact of the matter is, despite Republican rhetoric, if we`re serious about creating jobs in this country, which should be our main priority, that`s one of the worst ways to do it. Much better to take that money, invest in our roads, bridges, railroad systems, infrastructure. You create jobs doing that.
SCHULTZ: Senator, how do you feel about the unemployed in this country being held hostage in these negotiations? Because that`s exactly what it was. We`ve got to call it for what it is. It was a bargaining chip on the table after Americans have played into unemployment insurance.
SANDERS: Ed, this is the issue -- our Republican friends have got to be held accountable. This issue is the insult, the outrage that they want tax breaks for billionaires, but they can`t in their heart come up with extending unemployment compensation so that millions of families in this country will have a modicum of security. That`s an outrage.
I believe politically we can rally the American people around that cause. We`re right. We`re talking about social justice. They`re talking about more tax breaks for billionaires who don`t need it.
SCHULTZ: This is against the will of the American people. All the polling that`s out there, this is against the majority votes in the House, this is against the majority of votes in the Senate. There were 53 votes on the Senate floor on Saturday.
Is President Obama playing with the future of his presidency, in your opinion?
SANDERS: Not only is this bad public policy, driving up the deficit, increasing the growing gap between the rich and everybody else, I think it is bad politics. It`s bad politics in the sense of who is going to believe the president or anybody who votes for this in the future when you campaign for years against Bush`s economic policy and then you say, oh, by the way, that`s what I`m voting for? I`m voting for tax breaks for the rich.
And, by the way, if it turns out in this deal to be two years, you can bet that that`s just the beginning. It will be extended beyond that.
So I think for a Democratic president, Democratic House, Democratic Senate to be following the Bush economic philosophy of tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires is absolutely wrong public policy, absolutely wrong politically. And I have got to tell you, I will do whatever I can to see that 60 votes are not acquired to pass this piece of legislation.
SCHULTZ: Will you filibuster this?
SANDERS: I will do whatever I can on this. This is a very, very bad agreement.
SCHULTZ: So the two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, the 13 months of unemployment, that`s the reported meat of the deal. You`re telling us tonight that you will do everything you can to stop this deal?
SANDERS: I will.
SCHULTZ: And this, of course, would push it into the next session of the Congress and we would go back to the old right. That`s what you would take right now, Senator?
SANDERS: I believe, Ed, that we have the vast majority of the American people on our side. I think we`ve got to hold tough on this, hold firm on this, and not concede to Republicans, who, as you indicated, have absolutely no inclination for compromise. They want it all for their rich friends.
SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks for speaking up.
SANDERS: Thank you.