Moments before the end of the last Congress, lawmakers passed a last-minute deal negotiated by McConnell and Vice President Biden that extended the Bush-era tax rates for families making less than $450,000 a year and put off the automatic spending cuts for two months — avoiding the “fiscal cliff.”

Republicans have said now that tax rates have been dealt with, Democrats need to get serious about spending cuts, including to entitlement reform. Democrats have said there is another $1 trillion in revenue from eliminating tax deductions that they would like to see included in a deficit-reduction deal in order to prevent cuts to programs they view as critical.

“I look forward to a serious debate in the Senate about how we do deficit reduction in a way that is fair,” Sanders said. “At a time when the middle class is disappearing and the number of people living in poverty is at an all-time high, do we cut programs that working families desperately depend upon, or do we ask the wealthiest people and largest corporations — all of whom are doing phenomenally well — to start paying their fair share of taxes?”

Sanders pointed out that tax revenue is only 15.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), when in the past the average has been closer to 18 percent. He said that corporations and wealthy people should be paying their “fair share” instead of making cuts to programs that help low-income and middle-class families.

“Despite Sen. McConnell’s position, the lack of revenue coming into the federal government must be addressed,” Sanders said. “Today corporate profits are at an all-time high, while corporate income tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is near a record low.

Sanders has proposed closing tax loopholes that allow off-shore tax havens in other countries among other things to raise new tax revenue.

“Large corporations and the wealthy are avoiding more than $100 billion in taxes every year by setting up offshore tax shelters in places like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas.”

McConnell has dismissed the possibility of tax increases, saying Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.