News January 19

Senator Sanders

Vermont Leads Sen. Bernie Sanders and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin on Friday discussed, as Sanders put it, “what a progressive government can be doing at the state level.” Shumlin said Vermont is implementing the nation’s first single-payer health system and leads the nation in promoting energy efficiency. The senator and governor were guests on The Thom Hartmann Program. VIDEO

Green Inaugural Ball Environmental and clean energy group’s Green Ball on Sunday evening has picked up a few more shiny attendees. Among them: Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood plus Sens. Sanders, Tammy Baldwin, Maria Cantwell, Angus King and Sheldon Whitehouse, Politico and ABC News reported. LINK, LINK

Resisting Austerity In an interview with The Progressive magazine, Sen. Sanders said cuts to social programs for the elderly, the poor, and the middle class were unacceptable in debt reduction negotiations. At a time when a quarter of profitable corporations pay no income tax "we are not going to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class,” Sanders said.  LINK  

Marriage Equality Sen. Sanders signed a letter to the Obama administration asking for help for bi-national gay and lesbian couples facing deportation, the Washington Blade reported. The Defense of Marriage Act bars the federal government from legally recognizing gay marriages that are legal in Vermont and nine other states,. LINK

Filibuster Reform Bill Moyers supported Senate rules reforms that would end the “silent filibuster” and “restore its original, public use (Think Mr. Smith or Mr. Sanders),” Moyers wrote in a post on the Moyers & Company website. The Communications Workers of America posted an ad and online petition on the Burlington Free Press website saying, “Tell Sen. Patrick Leahy to support strong rules reform that ends the silent filibuster.” LINK, LINK

Guns “While we appropriately address the issue of mass killings, we should also be mindful that thousands of Vermont families enjoy hunting, target shooting and other gun-related activities … [and] their rights must be protected,” Sen. Sanders was quoted on “Vermont This Week” on Vermont Public Television. Panelist Terri Hallenbeck of the Burlington Free Press said the Vermont congressional delegation and Gov. Shumlin “seemed to support” President Obama’s call for a ban on assault weapons and other measures. LINK (at 11:40)


Algeria Hostage Crisis The New York Times reported there may be “dozens” of captives still being held hostage by armed kidnappers at a gas facility in Algeria. At least 12 foreigners held in the kidnapping have been killed. LINK

EU Prime Minister David Cameron’s suggestion that Britain may leave the European Union drew an “admonition” from the Obama administration, according to The New York Times. Cameron’s controversial view was stated in prepared remarks for a speech that was postponed due to the Algerian hostage crisis. LINK


Republicans Back Down on Debt Ceiling House Republicans have agreed to pass a bill next week to raise the debt ceiling for three months. The move is a retreat from the earlier insistence among some Republicans that any such debt increase would have to be matched by spending cuts of equal or greater size. They said the Senate would have to pass a budget before they would vote on a longer-term increase, The Washington Post reported.  LINK

Federal Reserve Transcripts from Federal Reserve meetings in 2007 have been released according to the standard five-year delay. The Wall Street Journal reported that several officials, including Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, often underestimated the health of the housing market and the general economy in early 2007. LINK   

Veterans and Suicide Mother Jones breaks down startling numbers about veteran suicide and the impact of PTSD on returning troops. Research shows that a veteran dies by suicide once every 80 minutes and that suicide was the No. 1 cause of veteran death in 2012. LINK


Health Care Officials from Burlington's Fletcher Allen Health Care, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and other hospitals serving Vermont have joined to create the nation's first statewide accountable care organization. Friday's announcement means about 42,000 of Vermont's 118,000 Medicare beneficiaries will get their care from the new entity, AP reported. LINK

Unemployment The Vermont Department of Labor reported a drop in the state unemployment rate from 5.2 percent to 5.1 percent. The federal unemployment rate is 7.8 percent.  LINK

State Senate Gov. Peter Shumlin named former Vermont legislator Eldred French to replace Sen. William Carris of Rutland County who is resigning for health reasons, AP reported. LINK

Dogs and Cats Vermont has the highest percentage of pet owners of any state. More than two-thirds of Vermonters (70.8 percent) own at least one pet, which is more than three percent higher than the next state on the list, New Mexico. And Vermonters also have the highest rate of cat ownership at 49.5 percent, topping Maine, where 46.4 percent of homes include a feline, the Bennington Banner reported.