ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. >> U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders urged his Vermont constituents Thursday to push back against plans by President Donald Trump to implement policies and federal budget cuts that Sanders argues are amoral and bad for the country.
In a town hall meeting at a senior center in St. Johnsbury, Sanders said the Republican president would not get all he is asking for in his proposed budget, released Thursday. To ensure that he doesn’t, people should let their opinions be known, Sanders said.
“We are not yet living … in an authoritarian society,” the independent senator said when asked if anything could be done to oppose Trump’s plan to build a border wall with Mexico. “Just because the president wants something does not mean that he is going to have it.”
He said opposition by the American people has already prompted the Republican-led Congress to consider dialing back some of Trump’s proposals.
Sanders, the popular but unsuccessful contender for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, urged Vermonters to also let congressional members in other states know their views.
St. Johnsbury meetings were the first in a two-day series of town hall meetings Sanders is planning. He began the day Thursday at St. Johnsbury Academy and then went across town to the senior center.
In both meetings, Sanders decried Trump-backed proposals: replacing the Affordable Care Act and cutting funds for housing and nutrition programs and environmental protection services. Sanders spoke of finding a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country without proper documentation.
“There is no moral reason for giving tax breaks to billionaires and cutting back on the health care needs of working families or cutting housing or cutting education,” Sanders said.
Sanders’ message was generally well received.
“He’s trying to do the best he can, but he’s one person,” said David Timson, 65, of St. Johnsbury, who asked Sanders a question about Medicaid coverage. “The problem is the way Washington is right now. They are not average Joe, like myself or other people in this room. They are for themselves.”
Sanders will wrap up the series Friday with a meeting in Randolph Center.