Sanders urges lawmakers to move quickly on stimulus package

11/21/08 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel
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(Host) Senator Bernie Sanders says it's critical for Congress to pass a massive stimulus package to help revitalize the national economy.

Sanders wants lawmakers to begin to consider a plan when Congress returns to Washington in early December.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Sanders, who's a member of the Senate Budget committee, voted against the $700 billion rescue package for the nation's financial services industry. He says it rewarded poor decisions by the management of these companies and he was concerned that the plan didn't include enough oversight of the banking industry.

But Sanders says he's actively working with other senators to pass a second stimulus plan - one that could cost as much as $600 billion, because he says it will have a very different orientation:

(Sanders)"That is money that would be used to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure our roads bridges water systems culverts schools and would also if I have anything to say about it be money being spent creating millions of jobs as we break our dependency on foreign oil...these are things we have to do we have to do them sooner we have to do them later let's do them now and let us put millions of people to work doing that."

Sanders also wants the new stimulus plan to include a revenue sharing type program to help states that are facing severe financial pressures:

(Sanders)"Our states, including the state of Vermont, many other states are facing serious economic problems they're laying off people there are going to be cuts in essential services which is only going to exacerbate many of the economic problems facing lower income people and working families as unemployment increases we need to make sure that states get help."

Sanders wants Congress to pass a limited stimulus package next month and then a much larger one in January. He thinks the new Senate, with at least 7 new Democratic members, will be eager to act on this issue:

(Sanders)"If you look at the new senators the people who are coming in on the Democratic side virtually all of the members agree with that and I think there will be a number of Republicans who understand that as well... I'm on the Budget committee we just had a hearing the other day 3 economists a liberal type, a moderate type and a conservative type and I think they're using the word unprecedented the globalization of this recession and the speed with which it's moving."

Sanders says he's not sure if he'll support a bail out of the nation's auto industry. He says he's concerned that millions of jobs could be lost if the Big 3 auto makers are forced into bankruptcy but he says any bail out plan has to include restrictions on executive pay and a requirement that these companies place a greater emphasis on the production of fuel efficient vehicles.

For VPR News I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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