News January 3

Senator Sanders

Fiscal Fallout When negotiations begin in coming weeks to reduce the deficit, the lack of spending cuts in the legislation that averted the fiscal cliff will put pressure on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, analysts said Wednesday. Key backers in Congress said will not give in to pressure to cut benefits. “If we are going to protect programs that working families desperately need and create the millions of jobs our economy needs we need more revenue,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told The Boston Globe. He noted that government revenue is now 15.4 percent of gross domestic product, the lowest in 60 years. He argued that the wealthiest Americans and corporations should be paying more taxes. “We need more revenue from the wealthy and large corporations, so what I will do as part of this process is make sure we close these loopholes and ask corporations to start paying their fair share,” Sen. Sanders told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. LINK,  VIDEO

Protect Social Security “Republicans — and some Democrats — want to curtail Social Security, veterans’ benefits, Medicare and Medicaid — that’s not a secret — and some of us are going to be fighting to say no,” Sen. Sanders told Politico. He is the author of a letter sent by 29 Senate Democrats in September demanding Obama back off Social Security cuts by changing the index for inflation. “It is absolutely imperative the president and Democratic leadership stay strong on this issue. If they do, we will win,” added Sanders. LINK

Protect Veterans Sen. Sanders led seniors and veterans groups in stopping retirement and disability benefits from being cut in the year-end fiscal deal, according to The Ed Schultz Show. This legislation defeated efforts to cut benefits for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans, something I've been working very hard on,” Sanders said on ABC 22 and Fox 44. “I will continue fighting to make sure cuts in Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans are not part of any future budget deal,” Sanders said on WPTZ-TV. VIDEO, VIDEO, AUDIO

Tough Call “The ‘fiscal cliff’ agreement was not a good piece of legislation, but not passing the bill would have been much worse," Sanders said in the Brattleboro Reformer, Seven Days and vtdigger.org. “It was a tough vote. I would not be honest with you if I didn’t tell you I gave some serious thought to voting no,” Sanders told Elliot Spitzer on Current TV. LINK, LINK, LINK, VIDEO

‘Sanders is Right’ “I get nervous … whenever I hear Congress debating changes to Social Security benefits as part of a deficit-reduction package. Sen. Sanders is right: The fund is solvent, and has nothing at all to do with the national debt or deficit …  I’ve been paying into it as a retirement fund for 60 years now, and get upset when it’s disparaged as an ‘entitlement.’” Willem Lange wrote in a column for the Valley News. LINK

Global Warming “Scientists now foresee the earth warming by 8 degrees Fahrenheit or more by the end of this century. That would be catastrophic. It's already past time to get serious about the threat of global warming. One important way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is by supporting wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and other sustainable energy sources,” Sen. Sanders wrote in a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal. LINK

113th Congress The 112th Congress will close out its widely-criticized term and the 113th Congress will be sworn in Thursday. In the Senate, Democrats lead 55-45, counting Sens. Sanders and Angus King, independents who will caucus with the Democratic Party, the Los Angeles Times reported. LINK

Vermont Progressives Robert Millar took the helm of Vermont's Progressive Party on New Year's Day. The 28-year-old University of Vermont graduate “has dabbled in Progressive politics for years” and most recently worked as office manager for Sen. Sanders’ 2012 reelection campaign, Seven Days blogged. LINK

National

Obama Signs Fiscal Cliff to Raise Taxes on Wealthy President Obama signed a bill that boosts taxes on the wealthiest Americans while preserving tax cuts for most American households. The bill, which averts a looming fiscal cliff that had threatened to plunge the nation back into recession, also extends expiring jobless benefits, prevents cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors and delays for two months billions of dollars in across-the-board spending cuts in defense and domestic programs, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Infighting in GOP Follows Scuttling of Storm-Aid Vote House Speaker John Boehner's surprise move to cancel a vote on a $60 billion package meant to help Northeastern states rebuild after superstorm Sandy set off an explosion of Republican infighting Wednesday that ended only when the speaker agreed to bring the measure to the floor in mid-January. Boehner infuriated Northeastern lawmakers and governors from both parties late Tuesday by deciding to hold off on a vote on the aid package until after the new Congress is sworn in Thursday—potentially pushing it into late January or February, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Clinton Out of Hospital Hillary Rodham Clinton was discharged from a New York hospital on Wednesday evening after several days of treatment for a blood clot in a vein in her head. The news of her release was the first welcome sign in a troubling month that grounded Mrs. Clinton, The New York Times reported. LINK

Vermont

Shumlin Blasts ‘Dysfunctional’ Congress Twice calling Congress "dysfunctional" at his weekly press conference Wednesday, Gov. Shumlin said he's nevertheless relieved that the federal government managed to — at least temporarily — resolve its self-imposed fiscal impasse, according to Seven Days. "We're all breathing a sigh of relief that they got something done down there," he said. LINK

State Budget Delayed Gov. Shumlin and Vermont lawmakers agreed to push the governor's annual budget address back a week to give the fiscal situation in Washington a chance to become clearer. Congress reached a compromise on New Year's Day to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff and its round of automatic spending cuts and tax increases, but left decisions about spending cuts for deliberations to come. More than a third of the money Vermont spends comes from the federal government, AP reported. LINK

Shumlin: No Pensions for Cons Gov. Shumlin says he'll urge lawmakers to pass a bill that cracks down on cases of fraud involving state workers, municipal employees and teachers. The proposed law stems from a case of a Vermont State Police trooper who is charged with padding his overtime hours by tens of thousands of dollars, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Wind Foes Want Moratorium Two Vermont state senators are planning to unveil legislation that would call for a three-year moratorium on large-scale wind power projects in the state. Sens. Robert Hartwell of Bennington County and Joe Benning of Caledonia County say they've been hearing from many constituents complaining that there's been inadequate public participation in deliberations over big ridge-top wind power projects, AP reported. LINK

Cold Snap The National Weather Service reported at 8 a.m. today it was -17 in Montpelier, -19 in Morrisville, and -13 in Rutland. The weather forecast has this cold snap moving off to the east, with intermittent light snow coming in tonight into Friday evening, with possible slight accumulations, especially in the mountains, the Times Argus reported. LINK