News April 17

Senator Sanders

Buffett Rule Blocked Senate Republicans on Monday derailed a bill that would have forced the nation's top earners to pay at least as much as middle-class families in income taxes. "It is absurd that at a time when our country has a $15 trillion national debt and enormous unmet needs, the wealthiest people in this country have an effective tax rate that is lower than many middle-class people," Sen. Bernie Sanders said in the Burlington Free Press and on Fox 44 and ABC 22. LINK, VIDEO

An Oligarchy "If we don`t turn this around, we are going to lose the democratic foundations that have made this country the nation that it is and we are going to move very rapidly ...into an oligarchic form of society, where a handful of people on the top control not only the economics of the nation, they control the politics as well," Sanders told Ed Schultz on MSNBC. VIDEO, VIDEO

USPS The Senate appears ready to take up a long-delayed bill to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service. Sen. Sanders told Congressional Quarterly that changes in the bill "will strengthen our efforts to protect small post offices, small processing plants and protect jobs in the Postal Service." LINK

Budget Senate Budget Chairman Conrad will include a long-term deficit reduction plan as part of a budget resolution to be marked up this week. Some committee members, such as Sanders, will be a hard sell on spending cuts, according to CQ Today. LINK

Oil Speculation Barney Frank and 16 other House Democrats filed a friend-of-the-court brief in defense of a new rule curbing speculation in the commodities market. Last week, 19 senators including Sanders also filed a court brief defending the federal regulator's right to put position limits in place, Reuters reported.

The Fed Public pressure on the Federal Reserve over the past few years had an effect.  After a long, protracted battle in Congress, Sen. Sanders and Rep. Ron Paul were able to force an audit of the Fed by the Government Accountability Office, The Huffington Post and MSNBC reported LINK, VIDEO

Dental Crisis "I compliment Sen. Sanders on his recent hearings to explore the oral health needs of Vermonters," Dr. Judith M. Fisch, a former president of the Vermont State Dental Society, wrote in the Bennington Banner. LINK

Nuclear Subsidies "It is shocking that the nuclear industry continues to receive so much federal support at a time of record debt," Sanders said in a column posted on Green Mountain Daily, Michaelmoore.com and Democratic Underground. LINK, LINK, LINK

Puerto Rico An ad in the Burlington Free Press urged readers to contact Sen. Sanders on the status of Puerto Rico. "There is a referendum in Puerto Rico in November," a spokesman noted. "Whatever the voters decide, Bernie looks forward to working with the people of Puerto Rico." LINK

World

U.S. Candidate to Lead the World Bank The World Bank on Monday named as its next president Jim Yong Kim, a global health expert and the president of Dartmouth College, a widely expected appointment that continues the longstanding tradition of an American leading the Washington-based development institution, The New York Times reported. LINK

National

Obama Discovers Oil Speculation Under pressure to take action on rising gasoline prices, President Obama wants Congress to strengthen federal supervision of oil markets. Obama plans to spell out his proposal Tuesday at the White House, The Associated Press reported. LINK

Republicans to Slash Food Stamps From food stamps to child tax credits and Social Service block grants, House Republicans began rolling out a new wave of domestic budget cuts Monday but less for debt reduction - and more to sustain future Pentagon spending without relying on new taxes, Politico reported. LINK

Income Gap French economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty have tracked the incomes of the poor, the middle class and the rich in countries across the world. Their work shows that the top earners in the United States have taken a bigger and bigger share of overall income with inequality nearly as acute as it was before the Great Depression, The New York Times reported. LINK

Vermont

Student Loans Rep. Peter Welch hopes Congress will keep interest on the Federal Direct Stafford Student loans at 3.4 percent rather than allowing them to double on July 1 to 6.8 percent on new loans, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

Union Dues Vermont public employees who don't join the unions representing them could soon have to pay to support those groups anyway. The state Senate is to take up legislation by Sen. Vincent Illuzzi affecting teachers, state and municipal workers who don't join the unions representing them, AP reported. LINK

Free Press is Pulitzer Finalist The Pulitzers were announced on Monday, and The Burlington Free Press was one of three finalists for editorial writing for its campaign to reform the state's access to public records laws, AP reported. LINK

Immigrants Arrested The U.S. Border Patrol accused seven undocumented immigrants working on a construction project at the University of Vermont of being in the country illegally, The Burlington Free Press reported. LINK