Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) berated White House budget director Mick Mulvaney over President Trump’s budget proposal Tuesday, contending that thousands of people would die and others would freeze because of the administration’s proposed cuts.
Sanders was referring specifically to the budget proposal’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act and cuts to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
But, “the good news is this budget is going nowhere,” Sanders said, accurately describing the fate of virtually all presidential budgets, this year’s in particular since it comes on the heels of a massive bipartisan deal setting spending levels for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years.
The exchange between Sanders and Mulvaney happened at a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee, where Sanders is top Democrat, a day after the Trump administration released the 2019 budget proposal.
“Director Mulvaney, tell me about the morality of a budget which supports tax breaks for billionaires, throws 32 million people off of the health insurance they have, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of fellow Americans,” Sanders demanded. “Do you really think this is something we should be doing?”
Mulvaney responded, “I don’t think it’s something that we’re actually doing, Senator.” He went on to dispute estimates by the Congressional Budget Office that the Affordable Care Act repeal would cost tens of millions their insurance.
Cutting Mulvaney off, Sanders referenced deep Medicaid cuts in the budget, then turned his attention to the GOP’s tax bill passed in December, which tilted many of its benefits to the wealthiest Americans. Sanders demanded to know the morality of delivering tax breaks to billionaires, “and yet we cut a program which keeps children and the elderly warm.”
Mulvaney retorted that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program had mistakenly delivered benefits to thousands of dead people. “That’s not moral, to take your money, to take my money, to take the money from the people,” Mulvaney began to say.
Sanders reiterated that, despite some fraud in the program, it helped millions, and he charged that Mulvaney and Trump had “created a situation where people will get cold, some may freeze to death. That’s not what we should be doing.”
At that point, Sanders’s time expired.