News January 8

Senator Sanders

Sanders: McConnell is ‘Dead Wrong’ Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday called Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell “dead wrong” for declaring that the “tax issue is over” after last week’s fiscal agreement. Added Sanders: “Revenue is very much the issue. The American people have been very clear. They do not want to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. They do want to ask the wealthy and corporations to pay more in taxes,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said on MSNBC. “Sanders has a point. Polls show not just Democrats and liberals but independents and moderates and even majorities of Republicans oppose making big cuts, or making any cuts to Social Security and Medicare. So that is a position on which Sanders is correct.” Michael Tomasky of Newsweek magazine said on MSNBC. LINK, VIDEO, VIDEO

Defense Secretary President Obama on Monday nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to be defense secretary, and top White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to be CIA director. Obama pressed the Senate to confirm them quickly. Sen. Bernie Sanders said he looks forward to confirmation hearings, Seven Days reported. Sen. Patrick Leahy backed both of the president’s picks. Democrats have 55 votes in the Senate including independents Sanders and Angus King. Republicans have 45. Sixty are needed for confirmation, Yahoo News reported. LINK, LINK

Dimon Out at NY Fed JPMorgan Chase chairman Jamie Dimon has quietly left the New York Federal Reserve board of directors  Critics last year saw at least an appearance of a conflict of interest after JPMorgan, despite the Fed’s oversight, suffered an embarrassing $6 billion loss in a risky bet. “This is a clear example of the fox guarding the henhouse," Sen. Sanders said. Elizabeth Warren, now a senator from Massachusetts who will sit on the Senate Banking Committee, also called on Dimon to step down, the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune reported. LINK

Gas Prices Sen. Sanders last summer asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate gas prices in Northwestern Vermont. Sanders said consumers were being ripped off, and he blamed the area's gas retailers for keeping prices artificially high simply. The FTC has since reported that prices were higher than its projections, but told Sanders no further investigation is planned, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Immigration Reform One key to the looming congressional immigration debate will be the group of Senate Democrats and one liberal independent, Vermont's Bernard Sanders, who voted to block the bill the last time Congress debated a comprehensive reform push in 2007, according to The Washington Times. LINK

National

Giffords Launches Gun Control Campaign Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband on Tuesday unveiled a new anti-gun violence initiative two years after she was shot in the head at an event with constituents in Tucson, Ariz. Announcing the campaign in a USA Today op-ed, Gifford and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, said they would raise money to counter the gun lobby. LINK

Public Lukewarm on Cliff Deal Americans give a lukewarm response to last week’s agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, albeit with higher marks for the deal to President Obama than to House Speaker John Boehner. More people in the ABC News/Washington Post poll approve than disapprove of the agreement, but just by a 7-point margin, 45 to 38 percent, with a substantial 17 percent undecided. LINK

A.I.G. Ingrates Fresh from paying back a $182 billion bailout, the American International Group Inc. is weighing whether to join a $25 billion shareholder lawsuit against the government that contends that taking a 92 percent stake in the company deprived shareholders of tens of billions of dollars, The New York Times reported. LINK

Vermont

Burlington Gun Ban A proposed ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines in Burlington cleared its first hurdle at Monday night’s City Council meeting. The resolution passed on a 10-3 vote, following 21/2 hours of spirited public comment and discussion on the council.  By seeking stricter gun controls than allowed by Vermont law, the resolution faces refinement by a council committee, two public hearings and a ballot vote in March 2014 before being submitted for approval to the state Legislature, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

Welch Outlines Initiatives Rep. Peter Welch is touring Vermont this week to announce some initiatives he will pursue as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. This committee handles an array of issues, including energy, health care and telecommunication policy. Welch said he will try to break the gridlock that prevails in Congress “by pursuing practical policies that have the potential for bipartisan support,” according to the Burlington Free Press. LINK

Ex-Shumlin Aide Going to Jay Peak Gov. Peter Shumlin's former deputy chief of staff will be joining Jay Peak to work on a $600 million development in the Northeast Kingdom. Alex MacLean has been hired by Jay Peak's owners to lead the project's external affairs and help with fundraising, including investor relations, according to AP. LINK