Video: Sanders seizes Senate floor to protest tax bill

  1. Closed captioning of: Sanders seizes Senate floor to protest tax bill

    >>> bernie sanders has been speaking about tax cuts for about four hours now. let's go to ken strickland live on capitol hill . a lot of people are buzzing about this, some called it an old style senate filibuster. what's going on there?

    >> reporter: the senate is not scheduled scheduled to vote today, so they're not really blocking anything from going ork but what he's done is he's gotten as issuersassurances that he can badmouth this bill as long as he possibly can until he's tired. so he has threatened to filibuster the bill and on monday, there will be a vote to break that filibuster. harry reid and his democrats and some republicans will need to bring 60 votes to say let's get down and negotiate the time tefinal terms. but bernie sanders has been going on and on a ond about how bad this bill is. he specifically dislikes the part of the bill that extends the tax cuts for the high income earners, those making more than $250,000 a year. and he will talk and talk and talk and talk. he is probably one of the most passionate democrats on here about the bill. that said, a lot of democrats are coming to the conclusion that this bill needs to pass because what their core concern was was that the tax cuts would be expanded for the middle class . that is still part of the bill. i just got an e-mail from senator robert menendez . he says, yes, it's not exactly what he want rktswant, but he's support it.

    >> there are no signs that senator sanders will let up. we want to let our audience hear some of what is going on. thank you, ken.

    >> what i think has not been widely reported is that the wages of the new workers who are being hired is 50% of the wages of the old workers in the plant. so you're going to have workers working side by side where an old worker who has been there for years is making $25, $28 an hour, and then right next to him, a new hire is making $14 an hour. and if you understand that the automobile industry was perhaps the gold standard for manufacturing in america, what do you think is going to happen to the wages of blue collar workers in the future? if all you can get with a union behind in you automobile manufacturing is 14 bucks an hour today, what are you going make in colorado or in vermont? $10 an hour 1rks $1 an hour? is that enough money to raise a family on? are you going to have any benefits? unlikely. so that's what happens when your manufacturing base disappears and that to a significant degree in my view is a result of a disastrous trade policy . i got to tell you, and i think in hindsight most people will agree i was right. when i was over in the house, had all the corporations in the world were telling us how great nafta would be, free trade with mexico. i didn't buy it. i was right. and, oh, it's going to be even better, we got a free trade with china. think how large china is and all of the american products they're going to bobooif ove buy over there, cre ate all kinds of job. i never believed it for a moment.

    >> let me bring in, while he tells this story, there have been very fiery moments. i understand sherrod brown , even mary landrieu gutting in. we have a clip of very passionate words from him. let's play it.

    >> senator landrieu asked a very simple question which i would like and i think the american people would like an answer to. whose brilliant idea was that at a time when we have seen an explosion in income and wealth to the people on top, while their tax rates have already gone down, whose brilliant idea was it that we drive up the national debt , ask our kids to pay higher taxes to pay off that debt in order to give tax breaks to people who don't need it? that's the question senator landrieu is asking. i think the american people need an answer to that. and my hope is that millions of americans start calling their senators to ask that question. whose idea was it? i don't think -- and the irony here, and senator landrieu made this point, as well there, are millionaires out there who say thank you, i don't need it. i'm more worried about the kids of this country than giving me a tax break i don't need. i can't spend it. thanks very much. that's what warren buffett has said, bill gates , you got many millionaires saying it. we are giving some of these guys --

    >> again, ken, this is an ap alert related to what senator sanders was discussing. the federal budget deficit according to this new information rose to $150 billion last month. that by the way the largest number and balance on record pnd the government's deficits are set to climb higher if congress passes that tax cut plan. we know that the estimated cost is $855 billion over two years, a number we learned late yesterday. so, again, what do we make, ken? you're savvy at processing these things. you have president obama about to meet with president clinton in the oval office . meanwhile you have loud voices in his party and those who caucus with the democrats voicing their continued frustration. all right let's give a little bit of the back story here. last weekend the senate was in the session and they are working and they were voting. senate democrats led by chuck assu schumer and others were making the case that the tax cuts should not be expanded to those making more than $250,000. so they had a vote on the senate floor to make the point. the problem was the democrats could not muster the 60 votes they needed to hold the line on that. so basically all the republicans were united against it and they lost even some of their own democrats . the republicans maintain that you have to expand those tax cuts for everyone because once you get above that $250,000 threshold, you're starting to get into small business . and when you start to hurt small business , you're hurting the people that create the jobs. so they had the votes to say we have to expand those. they'll come back here next week, they'll negotiate a little bit more, but in the senate it's pretty sure that this vote is going to pass with a lot of republican support. they may lose some democrats like sander, but then they'll send to the house.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/10/2010 7:47:53 PM ET 2010-12-11T00:47:53

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders fought President Barack Obama's proposed tax cut compromise with a lengthy speech in the Senate.

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He started at 10:24 a.m. ET and ended at 7 p.m.

Sanders, 69, an independent who usually sides with Democrats, said it was unconscionable to increase the national debt "by giving tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires who don't need it."

In talk-a-thon, Sanders skewers tax cut deal

Sanders noted he'd been repetitious in making his points.

He blasted Republican colleagues for their "hypocrisy" in wanting to extend tax cuts for the wealthy while complaining about the deficit.

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He also read hardship letters from constituents struggling to pay heating bills.

"We should be embarrassed that we are for one second talking about a proposal that gives tax breaks to billionaires while we are ignoring the needs of working families, low income people and the middle class," he said.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who also opposes the bill, briefly spelled him so he could take a break.

Despite the opposition, lawmakers expect the Senate to approve the bill early next week and send it to the House.

NBC News reported Sanders became a top trending topic on Twitter, under #filibernie, where some people repeated his quotes and others expressed amazement he was going on so long.

C-Span2 broadcast and livestreamed his talk.

"No matter what you believe, this guy is pretty awesome," tweeted renh77.

Sanders lengthy talk was not a true filibuster, as NBC reported, as he was not holding up any Senate business and no votes or other speeches were scheduled.

According to the Associated Press, the last true filibuster was mounted in 1992, when then- Sen. Al D'Amato, R-N.Y., spoke for for 15 hours and 14 minutes to oppose a change in a tax bill that would have hurt a home-state typewriter company.

Sanders, too, tweeted on his @senatorsanders account: "You can call what i am doing today whatever you want, you it call it a filibuster, you can call it a very long speech..."

He also tweeted his wrap-up: "And with that, Madam President, I would yield the floor."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Interactive: Obama-GOP tax cut deal

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