Strug­gling Through the Re­ces­sion

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM - Wash­ing­ton, DC

Is the re­ces­sion over? Not ac­cord­ing to hun­dreds of Ver­mon­ters who wrote to Sen. Bernie San­ders about strug­gling for three long years through the worst econ­omy since the Great De­pres­sion.

San­ders (I-Vt.) pub­lished a col­lec­tion of the let­ters on the same day Pres­i­dent Barack Obama un­veiled a bud­get that gives tax breaks to the wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans while tak­ing help away from mid­dle class and work­ing fam­i­lies.

The poignant sto­ries were as­sem­bled in a book­let called “Strug­gling Through the Re­ces­sion.” A mother, who is work­ing two jobs and rais­ing two chil­dren out­side Burling­ton, Vt., wrote: “I cringe when my son’s friends in­vite them to birth­day par­ties, which means I have to come up with money for a gift.” A woman from Wind­sor, Vt., whose busi­ness went bank­rupt wrote, “We do not seem to be ‘re­cov­er­ing’ at all. We just ex­ist on the fringes of life.”

Oth­ers told about how they can’t find jobs or have been

forced to work for lower wages. Se­niors spoke of de­plet­ing their life sav­ings. Stu­dents lucky enough to go to col­lege wor­ried about be­ing buried un­der stu­dent loans. Peo­ple wrote about their homes fall­ing into fore­clo­sure, about crush­ing credit card debt, about post­pon­ing mar­riage plans, and about tap­ping out sav­ings ac­counts to keep busi­nesses afloat or sim­ply to keep gas in their car.

“Shar­ing dif­fi­cult per­sonal cir­cum­stances is not an easy thing to do, so I am very grate­ful to those who told us about their ex­pe­ri­ences,” San­ders said. “The sim­ple truth is that if we do not know the re­al­ity of what is go­ing on in our coun­try to­day, in terms of the strug­gles that peo­ple are fac­ing, it will be im­pos­si­ble for us to de­velop – and gen­er­ate pub­lic sup­port for – poli­cies which can en­able us to go for­ward and ad­dress these hor­rific prob­lems.

San­ders plans to read some of the let­ters to other sen­a­tors and en­ter them in the Con­gres­sional Record.

“We must get our pri­or­i­ties right,” San­ders wrote in the book­let. “At a time when the top 1 per­cent now earns more in­come than the bot­tom 50 per­cent, it is ab­surd that we con­tinue to pro­vide huge tax breaks for the very rich, while cut­ting back on pro­grams des­per­ately needed by work­ing fam­i­lies.

“We must make cer­tain,” he added, “that Amer­i­cans are not hun­gry, cold, home­less or with­out health care. We must vig­or­ously pro­tect those so­cial pro­grams which pro­tect the lives and well­be­ing of tens of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans – in­clud­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care, Med­i­caid and vet­er­ans pro­grams.”

San­ders out­lined ways to cre­ate mil­lions of de­cent-pay­ing jobs by re­build­ing our in­fra­struc­ture, trans­form­ing our nation’s en­ergy sys­tem, re­vamp­ing our trade poli­cies and sup­port­ing small busi­nesses.

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