WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) drew a loud, disruptive boo from the audience Thursday at NAFCU’s Congressional Caucus when he criticized Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s plan to replace Medicare with a voucher program.
Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, delivered the most emotional speech of the day, focusing on the controversial topic of wealth distribution.
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The Vermont senator said analysis of tax returns in 2010 revealed that 93% of new income went to the top 1% of wealth holders in the U.S. The remaining 7% of new wealth was shared by the remaining 99%, he said.
“That’s what we’re looking at today in terms of winners and losers in the economy,” Sanders said.
Cutting programs that working families and the elderly desperately need, including Medicaid as “Paul Ryan and his friends” propose, is not the answer, he said, eliciting the loud boo from the audience, along with a smattering of applause.
Sanders redeemed himself a bit with the crowd with his verbal support of S. 2231, which would raise the member business lending cap. That received enthusiastic applause.
However, NAFCU Executive Vice President of Governmental Affairs Dan Berger, who served as emcee at the event Thursday, prompted the loudest applause of the day when he asked the audience after Sanders’ address to refrain from booing.
“We tried to find diverse collection of speakers,” Berger said. “Let them talk. We don’t have to all agree, but let’s refrain from booing.”