News January 18

Senator Sanders

Too Big to Fail Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher fears “too-big-to-fail” megabanks might fail again and leave taxpayers on the hook to bail them out, he warned in a Wednesday night speech in Washington. Afterward, Fisher told The Fiscal Times that he had been called “unsolicited” by lawmakers from both parties. “A Tea Party activist will likely be as interested in this as you might have Sen. Sanders of Vermont,” Fisher said.  LINK

Banker Pay JPMorgan Chase slashed CEO Jamie Dimon’s pay by half because an investment unit botched derivative trades that cost the bank more than $6 billion. “There is an extraordinary amount of anger at Wall Street; much more so I think than inside-the-beltway pundits perceive,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of Wall Street's most vocal critics, told Reuters. “Maybe some of the boards there are beginning to catch on to that.” Once that anger dies down, he expects Wall Street compensation to go back up. LINK

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Treasury Department, has given only the barest hints of his views on finance. At his 2010 Senate hearing, Sen. Sanders asked Lew whether he believed that the “deregulation … pushed by people like Alan Greenspan [and] Robert Rubin contributed significantly to the disaster we saw on Wall Street.” A plethora of experts believe so, according to National Journal. Obama in 2008 thought so. But Lew didn’t. LINK

Food Safety A report explaining how FDA plans to define low-risk activities performed on small farms was required by a provision in a new food safety law backed by Sen. Sanders. The provision allows FDA to exempt small, low-risk farms that process their own products or combine products from several farms, according to the trade publication FDA Week.

Veterans Former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas praised Sen. Sanders’ support of Gulf War veterans and his efforts to investigate potential chemical poisoning of Persian Gulf veterans, according to a Dallas Morning News blog. LINK

Wind Energy The Town of Brighton urged Vermont's congressional delegation to oppose "the industrialization of Vermont's ridge lines," and support a moratorium on wind projects on Vermont's ridge lines. Sen. Sanders supported recent congressional action to extend tax incentives for the development of clean energy, calling those incentives, “a win-win for our economy and our environment,” The Caledonian-Record reported. LINK

Global Warming “Call your congresswoman and the White House and ask them to support Vermont Sen. Sanders' climate-change legislation,” Judy Weiss of Brookline, Mass., wrote to the Lowell Sun. LINK

Progressive Honor Roll The most valuable progressive in the nation? “It’s Bernie Sanders,” The Nation’s John Nichols said. “Gotta be,” agreed radio host Bill Press. “A lot of people can be right. It's the person who can stand up, be right and then go out to the American people and talk about it on a regular basis. Bernie Sanders is no longer a senator. He is an educator. He spends his time educating,” Nichols said on Current TV. AUDIO

Schumer’s Sap By dint of his job as chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Sen. Charles Schumer is overseeing preparations for the swearing-in and the customary congressional luncheon that follows. He has larded the inaugural with all things New York. The drinking water is from the Saratoga Springs Water Company. Two of the three wines served at the luncheon are from New York. The maple syrup is from Dutchess County. “We have the best maple syrup,” Schumer insisted. “Take that, Senators Patrick J. Leahy and Bernard Sanders of Vermont!” The New York Times poked in a blog. LINK

World

Algeria Hostage Crisis A Britain said on Friday that an Algerian military operation against kidnappers in the Sahara was not over and the fate of some captives remained unclear a day after Algeria mounted an assault on heavily armed fighters holding American and other hostages at a remote gas field facility, The New York Times reported. At least 34 hostages and 14 kidnappers are dead, BBC reported. LINK, LINK

Syrian Civil War More than 100 people in the city of Homs, Syria are reportedly dead following an attack by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Reuters said the attack followed explosions at a Syrian university that killed over 80 people. LINK

National

Debt Ceiling By mid-February or early March, the United States could face an unprecedented default unless it raises its debt ceiling, the Treasury Department said this week. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Thursday that Republicans were considering allowing a short-term extension of the federal debt limit of a month or so to foster more discussion about spending cuts, The New York Times reported. LINK

Gun Laws A majority of Americans favors stricter laws governing the sale of firearms, though more people blame recent mass shootings on a lack of parental involvement with children and effective mental-health treatment than on gun availability, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. In the survey, 56 percent of Americans said laws covering the sale of firearms should be made stricter, compared to 35 percent who said the laws should be kept as they are now. LINK

Filibuster Reform Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t plan to advance a “talking filibuster” proposal envisioned by liberals who want sweeping changes to the stodgy Senate. But he still may invoke what critics call the “nuclear option” to change Senate rules that would limit the use of the filibuster, force senators to hold the floor in certain situations and require those stalling legislation to deliver 41 votes, according to Politico. LINK

Citizens United Democrats in the House introduced three bills intent on reducing the influence of corporate political donations and the damaging Citizens United decision, Mother Jones reported. The bills would address the power of Super PACs, availability of public election funds, and rewarding candidates who rely on grassroots donations.  LINK 

Job Recovery The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits fell to a five-year-low, The Associated Press reported. The unemployment rate held steady at 7.8 percent as employers added 155,000 jobs in the month of December. LINK

Air Safety The Federal Aviation Administration ordered a halt to flights of all Boeing 787 Dreamliners, marking the first time in 44 years that the regulatory agency has issued such a grounding order. International agencies have followed suit, meaning that there is “no Boeing 787 flying anywhere in the world at this moment,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Prior to the grounding, two Dreamliners had to make emergency landings after battery fires.  LINK

Mine Safety A federal court in Beckley, W.Va. has sentenced former Massey Energy mine superintendent Gary May to prison for his role in a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners. NPR spoke to U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin who said the sentence was “a powerful message to...mine managers who would put profits over safety: if you violate mine laws and put miners at risk you will go to jail." LINK

Vermont

Gun Safety The Green Mountain Gun Show, held this weekend in South Burlington, for the first time will require background checks during private gun sales, the Burlington Free Press reported. Licensed gun vendors already had to perform a background check by law. LINK

Road Fund The state will need to raise roughly $30 million in new transportation revenue in order to pull down the maximum amount of federal funds, Vermont Public Radio reported. Rising construction costs and shrinking gas tax revenue are reasons for the shortfall. LINK

Energy Conservation Vermont Technical College was able to save more than $40,000 in energy costs by participating in an all-school competition. The school took advantage of a grant from IBM to achieve its energy conservation goals. IBM also helped the Howard Center, Vermont’s largest health and human services organization, with energy conservation procedures. LINK

Campaign Finance Reform Vermont Republicans called for greater transparency in political campaign donations on Thursday. Reps. Kurt Wright, Ron Hubert and Tom Koch called for donor identification in PAC ads and online campaign finance reporting. The AP reported that Democratic Party leaders agreed with the effort.  LINK

Leahy Photographs Monday will mark the 10th presidential inauguration that Sen. Patrick Leahy has attended. For the Vermont Democrat, it’s another opportunity to get the shots no other photographer can get, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK