News April 29

Senator Sanders

Financial Reform Lawmakers ended the three-day standoff holding up action on the financial-overhaul bill, setting up a Senate debate on a series of populist amendments that could be hard to defeat, according to The Wall Street Journal. It said one is a proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders to "break up" big banks. Another Sanders proposal would require audits of the Federal Reserve. LINK

Big Banks The Christian Science Monitor said liberal Democrats hope to use floor debate to strengthen regulation on a range of issues. Foremost, perhaps, is an attempt to break up banks deemed too big to fail. "If you have institutions too big to fail, then we have institutions too big to exist. We're going to break them up," Sen. Sanders said. LINK

The Fed Sanders also has his eye on new transparency requirements for the Federal Reserve. "The bottom line is that trillions of taxpayer dollars were lent out and voters have a right to know who received it," he said in the Monitor. "Bernie Sanders is going to have an amendment to audit the Fed. I'm going to support that one," Sen. Barbara Boxer told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. LINK and VIDEO

Vermont Senators Vermont's senators hope to put their own stamp on the financial regulatory reform bill. Sen. Sanders wants to break up and limit the size of big banks, increase transparency at the Federal Reserve, and cap interest rates for credit cards. Sen. Patrick Leahy wants to increase penalties for bank and securities fraud, The Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

Bank Protests There will be a protest on the steps of a downtown Albany bank today. The demonstrators are urging Congress to hold Wall Street accountable. Meanwhile, Sen. Sanders said on WNYT-TV that "The American people are disgusted that the greed and recklessness of Wall Street caused this recession and they want action now to prevent it from every occurring again." VIDEO

Credit Cards "Major financial institutions have become nothing less than loan-sharking operations...Banks cannot be allowed to engage in usury and charge outrageous interest rates. We must cap interest rates for private banks at the same level as we do for credit unions - 15 percent except under exceptional circumstances," Sanders wrote in a column posted by The Hill. LINK

Florida Senate Republican Gov. Charlie Crist will launch a risky political career Thursday as a candidate' for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders told The Miami Herald that his lack of party affiliation has never been an issue. "The Democratic leadership has been very kind to me." LINK

Trail Trouble Virtually everybody wants the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail from Swanton to St. Johnsbury to happen and in 2005, then-Rep. Sanders secured a $4.94 million federal grant. A last-minute complaint by two landowners, however, has landed the plan in Vermont Environmental Court, Seven Days reported. LINK


Contagion Fear Hits Spain
A cut to Spain's credit rating on Wednesday, just one day after downgrades to Portugal and Greece, fueled fears that the euro zone's debt crisis is widening, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK


Republicans Cave With political pressure mounting, Senate Republicans relented on Wednesday and agreed to let Democrats open debate on legislation that would impose the most far-reaching overhaul of the nation's financial regulatory system since the aftermath of the Depression, The New York Times reported. LINK


Obama to Nominate 3 to Fed Board President Barack Obama plans to nominate two economists and a lawyer to the Federal Reserve Board on Thursday, reshaping the central bank's top ranks at a critical period for financial regulation and monetary policy. He is set to name Janet Yellen as vice chairwoman of the central bank. LINK


Cape Cod Wind Farm Approved Ending a nearly decade-long political battle over installing wind turbines in the waters just off Cape Cod, the federal government approved the first offshore wind farm in the United States on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported. LINK


Gulf Oil Spill Gushes Federal officials said Wednesday the oil spill spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico is five times the size of previous estimates, as a significant new leak was discovered, according to The Wall Street Journal. LINK

Exxon Profit Up on Rising Oil Prices Exxon Mobil said Thursday its quarterly profit increased 38 percent as oil prices rose in the first three months of the year, The Associated Press reported. LINK


Spring Snow Thousands of Vermonters endured a dark night Wednesday after a devastating late-season snowstorm knocked out electric power across seven counties. More than a foot of heavy, wet snow that clung to the leaves and branches pulled down power lines, The Burlington Free Press reported.  LINK

Instant Runoff Repealed Instant runoff voting in Burlington has been officially repealed. Voters in Burlington decided at their March Town Meeting to abandon I-R-V in the mayor's race.  Legislators approved changing Burlington's city charter. And earlier this week, Governor Jim Douglas signed the bill into law, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK