News February 8

Senator Sanders

Tax Dodgers Sen. Bernard Sanders introduced legislation Thursday that would close a loophole that allows U.S. corporations to avoid paying income taxes by keeping their profits overseas in countries with low corporate tax rates, the Times Argus, Bloomberg News, Chicago Sun-Times, The Hill, Think Progress and Raw Story reported. “If we’re serious about deficit reduction [then] corporate America, which is now enjoying record-breaking profits, is going to have to step up to the plate,” said Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee. LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK

Jobs Shipped Overseas “This is a jobs issue, not just a tax issue … because what we`re doing is encouraging corporations to move their manufacturing plants, their offices to other countries where the tax rates are much lower,” Sen. Sanders said on MSNBC. ”I think it warrants the support openly of the White House,” Ed Schultz declared. VIDEO

Saturday Mail Lawmakers wrestled Thursday with how to address Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe's announcement that the U.S. Postal Service plans to end Saturday mail delivery. A temporary spending measure, which expires March 27, includes language requiring six-day delivery. Sen. Sanders opposes Donahoe's decision and told The Washington Post that he would fight any effort to remove the six-day-delivery requirement from the next spending bill. On the CBS Morning News, Sanders said the move would send the postal service into a “death spiral” while “doing very little to improve the financial condition of the Postal Service.” LINK, LINK

USPS “The postmaster general cannot save the Postal Service by ending one of its major competitive advantages,” Sen. Sanders said in the Los Angeles Times. “Cutting six-day delivery is not a viable plan for the future. It will lead to a death spiral that will harm rural America while doing very little to improve the financial condition of the Postal Service.”  Sanders went on to urge Republican House leaders to work with Democrats on a plan to save the post office, not close its doors. LINK

Education Senators took issue Thursday with the Obama administration for showering big grants on a small number of states under a controversial program called Race to the Top. At a Senate hearing, Sen. Sanders told Education Secretary Arne Duncan that "a relatively small amount of the states received the bulk of the money,” Reuters reported. The Huffington Post said Sanders criticized Duncan's support for the competitive grant programs. LINK, LINK

Treasury Secretary Treasury Secretary Nominee Jack Lew’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee will be Feb. 13. Sen. Sanders has vowed to vote no on Lew’s confirmation, citing concerns with his ties to Wall Street, Reuters and Congressional Quarterly reported. LINK, LINK

Wind Power Sen. Sanders stood by his opposition to a proposed moratorium on ridgeline wind development in Vermont. “We have got to move as rapidly as we can to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel," Sanders emphasized during an interview Thursday on Vermont Public Radio. He plans to introduce a bill in Congress this spring that he says will be the most sweeping legislation to date to address the issue. LINK, LINK

Climate Change A column in The Huffington Post urged Sen. David Vitter, the ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, to reconsider his opposition to carbon taxes. Sen. Sanders plans to soon introduce legislation to levy a carbon fee on the country’s largest polluters. LINK

Seniors Town Meeting Nancy Altman said Thursday on WDEV-AM radio that a bill by Sen. Sanders to strengthen Social Security would keep the retirement program’s funding secure for another 75 years. Altman and Sanders will discuss senior issues at a town meeting in Montpellier on Saturday. AUDIO

Chained CPI AARP Blog said a proposal to change how cost-of-living adjustments are calculated to lower Social Security benefits is unpopular among older Americans, veterans, women, labor groups, and vocal political opponents like Sen. Sanders. LINK

Veterans Health Sen. Sanders is deeply disappointed in the departments of defense and veterans affairs for scrapping plans to build a single integrated medical records system for veterans. The negative reaction to this decision has been bipartisan, with House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller raising concerns that veterans will be shortchanged in the effort to cut costs, Stars and Stripes reported.  LINK

World

Cost of Climate Change Scientists, economists and financial-world players agree that we’re now starting to experience measurable, real-world effects of climate change. And it’s hitting Americans where they notice it first: in the wallet. From higher food costs to threats to vital infrastructure to spikes in insurance claims, climate change is quantifiably slowing economic growth, raising government spending, and creating new layers of risk and uncertainty for investors, National Journal reported. LINK

Brennan Defends Drone Strikes A Senate hearing on the nomination of John O. Brennan to serve as CIA director exposed deep skepticism of key aspects of the Obama administration’s approach to fighting terrorism, including its unprecedented reliance on targeted killing and the secrecy it maintains around the exercise of that lethal power, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Rift in U.S. Policy on Syria Testifying Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged that he and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, supported a plan last year to arm carefully vetted Syrian rebels. According to The New York Times, Panetta said the plan was developed by David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director at the time, and backed by Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state, but vetoed by the White House. LINK

National

Nemo A winter storm named Nemo is forecast to grow into a "potentially historic" blizzard over New England on Friday and Saturday, dumping as much as 2 feet of snow across some parts of the region, USA Today reported. Some areas of Vermont could get eight to 14 inches. Amtrak canceled service on The Vermonter between Springfield, Mass., and St. Albans starting today. The greatest impact in New England will be along the Maine coastline, in southeastern New Hampshire, in eastern Massachusetts, and in parts of Rhode Island and Connecticut. LINK

Veteran Illnesses Some doctors and environmental health researchers suspect that American soldiers are being unnecessarily exposed to heavily contaminated environments while serving overseas, The Huffington Post reported. Research published in December 2012 raises the possibility that in some instances, soldiers may have been exposed to airborne cocktails that included low levels of sarin. LINK

Republican Senators Say No Subsidies for Unions  A group of 31 Republican senators asked the White House not to allow subsidies under the health-overhaul law for health-insurance plans jointly run by employers and unions. In a letter to President Barack Obama sent Thursday, the group, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said any expansion of insurance subsidies to union workers' plans would violate the 2010 law, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Violence Against Women Act A final vote reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is now scheduled for Monday, following debate on an amendment that would have barred Native American tribal courts from prosecuting non-Indians. The National Congress of American Indians says that 39 percent of Indian and Alaska Native women will be subject to violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, well above rates for other races, The Associated Press reported. LINK

Massachusetts Senator Mo Cowan, the interim senator taking Secretary of State John Kerry’s Massachusetts seat, was officially sworn in on Thursday, PBS reported. Cowan joins South Carolina senator Tim Scott to bring the number of African-American senators to two, the highest black representation in the Senate’s history. LINK

Vermont

FEMA Delays The federal government is asking Bennington for additional information before it will decide if the town will be reimbursed for $4.2 million in emergency work completed by the town in the immediate aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, the Bennington Banner reported. LINK

Solar Power A solar array is up and running at what's now known as the Southern Vermont Energy Park in Pownal at the site of the Green Mountain Race Track, which shut down in 1992. The 144-acre site was bought in 2006 for $1 million by Progress Partners. The solar facility is owned by Gestamp Renewables, the Bennington Banner reported. LINK

Green Mountain Power Vermont utility regulators fined Green Mountain Power $30,000 stemming from five violations in its permit to ship turbine parts to an industrial wind-power project last year, AP reported. LINK

F-35s Rep. George Cross, whose district would be affected by the possible basing of a new fighter jet in Burlington, is proposing a legislative resolution against it. Cross says his resolution has 30 cosponsors and he hopes to garner more support from lawmakers around Vermont, AP reported.

 

Vermont Yankee Vermont lawmakers want to ensure a promise made by the owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant that it would take extra steps to clean up the plant’s Vernon site after it shuts down. Although Entergy Corp. committed to shutting down the plant if it had not obtained a renewed state permit, the plant continues to operate, AP reported. LINK

Gun Market WCAX-TV investigated the illegal gun trade that can be sourced back to Vermont and its relaxed gun laws. State and federal authorities say black market guns leaving Vermont are typically traded for drugs, fueling property crimes and home break-ins across the state. LINK

New Ferrisburgh Rep. Gov. Peter Shumlin has appointed a Ferrisburgh Republican to finish the two-year term of the late Rep. Greg Clark of Vergennes, who was struck by a car and killed late last year. Warren Van Wyck has been appointed to the vacant seat, the Times Argus reported.  LINK