News January 7

Senator Sanders

Media Monopolies According to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders – an independent from Vermont and a leading opponent of media consolidation – 50 companies owned 90 percent of the American media in 1983. Today, that same 90 percent is controlled by six companies: GE, News Corp., Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS. “In short, it amounts to a monopoly on what we hear, and what we view, on TV and radio,” Jim Martin wrote in a Denver Post column critical of a Federal Communications Commission proposal to relax rules on media ownership. LINK

Fiscal Cliff Bill Falls Short The so-called fiscal cliff legislation signed into law by President Obama is not a good bill. But it was better than the alternative, which is why I voted for it. The alternative — doing nothing — would have thrown this country back into a recession with nearly $4 trillion removed from the economy,” Sen. Sanders wrote in a column published Monday by the Rutland Herald. LINK

Sanders is Right In an e-mail to constituents, Vermont’s own 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,” concluded a Brattleboro Reformer editorial published Monday by the Bennington Banner.

Shumlin Slams ‘Dysfunctional’ Congress Even as he praised President Obama for cutting a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, Shumlin panned the “dysfunctional Congress.” Had he been in their seats, Shumlin said he too would have voted for a deal that won “yes” votes from Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch. But he said the compromise creates uncertainty in a state budget that relies heavily on federal revenue, Vermont Press Bureau reported. LINK

Guns A working group led by Vice President Biden is considering background checks on firearm purchases, a national database to track weapons sales, and tougher penalties for carrying guns near schools as part of a gun control package in addition to a renewed ban on the sale of assault weapons. The Valley News said Vermont lawmakers have mixed records on gun control. The National Rifle Association handed down middle-of-the-road “C” grades to Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch while Sanders got a “D-,” according to the Valley News. LINK

National

Obama to Nominate Hagel for Defense, Brennan for CIA President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, two potentially controversial picks for his second-term national security team, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Battle Lines Drawn on Budget Republicans won't accept further tax increases in coming budget and debt negotiations, the party's Senate leader said Sunday, putting GOP lawmakers on a collision course with Democrats over raising the government's borrowing limit, according to The Wall Street Journal. LINK

Bank of American in $10 Billion Settlement Bank of America agreed on Monday to pay more than $10 billion to Fannie Mae to settle claims over troubled mortgages that soured during the housing crash, mostly loans issued by the bank’s Countrywide Financial subsidiary. Under the terms of the pact, Bank of America will pay the housing giant $3.6 billion, and will also spend $6.75 billion to buy back mortgages from Fannie Mae at a discount to their original value, The New York Times reported. LINK

Vermont

Welch on Energy Efficiency Rep. Welch will hold a press conference in Rutland on Monday to talk about his priorities as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He recently started a bipartisan caucus to build support in Congress for energy efficiency, AP reported. LINK

Leahy’s Choice Questioned One of the most surprising political events of 2012 was Sen. Leahy's decision not to become chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, according to Vermont Public Radio. Will Leahy's decision hurt Vermont? Lobbyist Bob Sherman thinks so. Sherman's opinion is shared, but not voiced publicly, by some others on the Vermont political scene. “If you are a golfer, you want to win the Masters. If you are a United States Senator you want to be chairman of appropriations,” said Chris Graff, a former correspondent for the Associated Press. LINK

F-35s Gov. Shumlin and Vermont’s congressional delegation favor bringing the F-35 to Vermont. The plane's supporters say opponents have exaggerated the number of people who would be affected by the noise contour zone and are cherry-picking information from an Air Force report, AP reported. LINK