News February 21

Senator Sanders

Tax Evaders In the worst recession since the 1930s, the largest financial institutions in the United States took a $700 billion taxpayer bailout and $16 trillion more from the Federal Reserve. Just two years later, at a time of mounting deficits largely created by the recession that Wall Street caused, the major financial institutions did everything they could to avoid paying American taxes by establishing shell corporations in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, Sen. Sanders wrote in an op-ed published Thursday by the Rutland Herald. LINK

Tax Havens One out of four profitable corporations pays nothing in taxes. Government revenue as a percentage of GDP is lower than at any time in history. Sen. Sanders and Jan Schakowsky have an answer. They introduced a bill that would raise $590 billion over the next decade and stop giving tax breaks to corporations for shipping jobs overseas, according to the San Diego Free Press. LINK

Chinese to Tax Carbon Emissions China’s Ministry of Finance announced that the country will levy a tax on carbon emissions, the Xinhua news service reported. Policy experts in the United States and Europe have long argued that a carbon tax is the most effective way to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, but implementing one in most large industrialized countries has always seemed politically infeasible. In the U.S., Sens. Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders have proposed a carbon tax of $20 a ton, the digital economics news service Quartz noted. LINK, LINK

Climate Change University of Vermont students joined about 40,000 protesters at a rally in Washington, D.C. on Sunday to urge President Obama to reject the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. Protesters carried banners that read “stop climate chaos.” One sign read “Support Sanders/Boxer climate change bill,” showing support for comprehensive climate change legislation introduced into the U.S. Senate by Sanders and California’s Barbara Boxer, according to a UVM blog. LINK

Campaign Funding The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a challenge to federal campaign contribution limits to political candidates. “The laborious route of a constitutional amendment stating plainly that corporations are not people and that money is not speech is really the only avenue left in reforming what the Court has done … The simplest one with the straightest line would seem to be the one that Bernie Sanders has been pushing,” Charles Pierce blogged for Esquire. LINK

Senate Rankings Sen. Sanders was the 32nd “most liberal” senator in 2012, according to National Journal rankings posted on Thursday. Sen. Patrick Leahy was the 24th most liberal senator last year, according to National Journal. Sen. Ben Cardin was 7th. LINK

Hill Center Talk of the Hill with Bill Press welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Clarence Page tonight. In coming months, the Hill Center will feature conversations with Sen. Sanders, former Sen. Chris Dodd, and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. LINK  

Leaving Wisconsin Wisconsin is among the top 10 states for people moving out, according to the annual survey from United Van Lines. Linda Wyeth, a freelance writer from Wausau, is unhappy with the Republican takeover of the state. “My husband and I are considering moving to Vermont, home of Bernie Sanders," she told The (Madison, Wis.) Capital Times.

World

Leahy in Cuba Sen. Leahy visited an American whose imprisonment in Cuba has hampered efforts to improve ties between the countries. A congressional delegation led by Leahy also met with Cuban President Raul Castro. The meeting at Revolution Palace was covered in the Cuban press with a front page photo of a smiling Leahy and Castro, The Associated Press reported. LINK

National

House Republicans Resist Taxes Shrugging off rising pressure from President Obama, House Republicans are resolutely opposing new tax increases to head off $85 billion in across-the-board spending reductions, all but ensuring the cuts will go into force March 1 and probably remain in place for months, The New York Times reported. LINK

Public Supports Tax Hikes President Obama starts his second term with a clear upper hand over GOP leaders, a USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll found. On the legislation rated most urgent — cutting the budget deficit — even a majority of Republican voters endorse Obama's approach of seeking tax hikes as well as spending cuts. LINK

Furlough Fears Federal workers are expected to begin taking unpaid leave by late March or early April if the government absorbs $85 billion in spending cuts set to start March 1. More than one million workers could be affected. They include food inspectors, TSA security personnel, White House and congressional staff. Many federal agencies must notify employees 30 days before beginning furloughs, so the impact of cuts could be slow-moving and give Congress and the White House more time to negotiate an alternative—something both sides say they favor, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Jesse Jackson Jr. Pleads Guilty to Campaign Law Violations Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. admitted Wednesday that he conspired with his then-Chicago alderman wife, Sandra, to use campaign credit cards to buy personal items like restaurant meals and airfare, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Jacksons used campaign credit cards to make approximately 3,100 personal purchases over seven years including a stay at a Martha’s Vineyard retreat, flat-screen televisions and even a pair of stuffed elk heads. Both Jacksons face prison time. LINK

Vermont

College Aid The federal form that’s the gateway to college financial aid is longer than the IRS’s 1040. Legislation aimed at simplifying the form will be filed by Rep. Peter Welch, he announced Wednesday at a news conference at the headquarters of the Vermont Student Assistance Corp. Nationally, just 59 percent of the families of entering first-year students filled out the form. In Vermont, the figure was 88 percent, according to the Burlington Free Press. LINK

Energy Efficiency The state of Vermont launched a new program expected to provide up to $10 million in low-interest financing for energy efficiency projects undertaken by businesses, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK