News January 5

Senator Sanders

Media Monopolies The Federal Communications Commission has proposed rule changes that would allow greater media consolidation in big cities. “More media consolidation … would result in less local control, fewer outlets offering differing viewpoints, and less ownership diversity,” Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote in a column published Saturday by The Boston Globe. LINK

Corporate Tax Evaders “Mitch McConnell was on the floor of the Senate saying the revenue discussion is over. Well, not for me. The truth of the matter is that right now you have one out of four profitable corporations in America paying zero in federal taxes … So the question is whether or not we cut programs that working families and lower income people desperately depend upon, or whether we ask the wealthiest people and largest corporations all of whom are doing very, very well to start paying their fair share of taxes,” Sanders said Friday on The Thom Hartmann Program. VIDEO

The Soul of America “What the Republicans want to do is destroy the social safety net that has existed in this country since the 1930s. They want to give more tax breaks to people who don`t need it and decimate the programs that working families and the middle class desperately depend upon. This is a fight for the soul of America,” Sen. Sanders told Ed Schultz Friday on MSNBC. Will President Obama stop cuts in Social Security benefits? Sanders was asked. “I am not confident that the president will protect Social Security,” the senator answered. VIDEO

Bernie Buzz “In an e-mail to constituents this week, Sen. Sanders vowed to continue to protect Social Security and resist efforts to change how the program's cost-of-living adjustments are calculated. Not surprisingly, his approach to balancing the budget centers on the revenue side. He says it's high time for corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes. After seeing the fact sheet Sanders distributed, we couldn't agree more,” the Brattleboro Reformer said in an editorial. LINK

Exxon Mobil Taxes In his Jan. 3 letter defending taxpayer subsidization of wind power, Sen. Sanders “repeats his inaccurate claim that Exxon Mobil, one of the largest taxpayers in the United States, paid no federal income taxes in 2009. That is not true, as we and others, including the PolitiFact truth-checking website, have told Sen. Sanders repeatedly,” Kenneth P. Cohen, Exxon Mobil’s chief lobbyist wrote in a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal. LINK

National

Social Security on Chopping Block President Obama has been willing to adopt a less-generous measure of inflation in calculating Social Security payments. As planning begins for the next phase of Washington’s fiscal wars, Democratic and Republican officials told The Washington Post they could build on “grand bargain” talks, which looked at raising new revenue through an overhaul of the tax code and reducing spending, including on Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement programs. LINK

Progressive Taxes With 2013 bringing tax increases on the incomes of a small sliver of the richest Americans, the country’s top earners now face a heavier tax burden than at any time since Jimmy Carter was president. The last-minute deal struck by the departing 112th Congress raised taxes on a handful of the highest-earning Americans, with about 99.3 percent of households experiencing no change in their income taxes. But the Tax Policy Center estimates that the average family in the top 1 percent will pay a federal tax rate of more than 36 percent this year, up from 28 percent in 2008. That is the highest rate since 1979, at least, according to The New York Times. LINK

Food Safety The Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed long-overdue regulations that could cost businesses half a billion dollars a year, but are expected to reduce deaths from foodborne illness. The new rules come two years after President Obama signed food safety legislation passed by Congress in 2011. The law required the agency to propose a first installment of the rules a year ago, but the Obama administration held off until after the election. Food safety advocates sued the administration to win their release, The Associated Press reported. LINK

Vermont

Health Exchange Vermont ranks No. 3 when it comes to federal money to help states set up health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Vermont has been granted more than $158 million so far to help set up the new regulated health care marketplace that's scheduled to be up and running in October. Only California and New York have gotten more money. LINK

GE in Rutland Wins $8 Million Defense Contract General Electric Aviation of Rutland has landed a contract worth more than $8 million to develop and produce engines and other devices for the U.S. Navy’s EA-18G aircraft. The contract is being divided among several regional GE plants, and totals more than $67 million. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the most senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its defense subcommittee, has long advocated for the Rutland plant, the Burlington Free Press and Rutland Herald reported. LINK, LINK 

Veterans Home Deficit The state's finance commissioner says the Vermont Veterans Home must make internal adjustments before seeking additional state funding to address what the state believes is a $1.7 million budget deficit, the Bennington Banner reported. LINK