News September 8

Senator Sanders 

Moyers & Company "Coverage of the two conventions reflected the partisan events unfolding at each. My team and I wanted to offer an alternative -- independent voices that see the world differently from the two major parties. So I invited Sen. Bernie Sanders, the longest serving Independent in the history of Congress, to share his thoughts on the political process and how it both serves and neglects the true interests of everyday Americans," Bill Moyers said on KAET-TV in Phoenix, Ariz., and other PBS stations. VIDEO, VIDEO

Social Security Sen. Sanders on Friday called on President Obama to defend Social Security. "What I want the president to do is to simply tell us that he still supports the position he held four years ago when he ran against McCain, which that you can solve the long-term Social Security crisis by lifting the cap on taxable income," the senator said on the Ed Schultz Show. In his Thursday night speech to the Democratic National Convention, Obama did not rule out cuts in the retirement program. LINK

Social Security There is a close-knit network of operatives with closely-knit funding sources and a common purpose: cutting Social Security and Medicare while lowering taxes for the wealthy and corporations. Sen.  Sanders, one of the few voices speaking out against them, can perhaps persuade Democrats defend what were once their signature achievements, Richard (RJ) Eskow wrote in a column for the Huffington Post. LINK 

Unemployment The Labor Department employment report said the U.S. added 96,000 jobs last month, down from the 141,000 added in July and too few to make headway in putting the nation's 12.5 million unemployed workers back on the job. "We have to remember where we were when Bush left office," Sanders told a caller on The Thom Hartmann Program. "Some job growth is a heck of a lot better than massive job losses."

National 

Social Security Former U.S. Comptroller David Walker addressed a gathering at St. Anselm College Friday packed with protestors who outnumbered those who had come to take in Walker's critique of the U.S. tax code and government entitlement system. Mary Heslin, a volunteer with N.H. Citizens Alliance, was one of the many protestors expressing opposition to tampering with Social Security and Medicare, The Union Leader reported. LINK

Privatize Medicare In his convention speech in Charlotte, President Obama vowed to block the Republican Medicare reform plan because "no American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies."  But back in Washington, his Health and Human Services Department is launching a pilot program that would shift up to 2 million of the poorest and most-vulnerable seniors out of the federal Medicare program and into private health insurance plans overseen by the states, National Journal reported. LINK

Budget Deal The House may vote as early as the coming week on a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government running through March, avoiding the threat of shutdown before the elections. Conservatives agreed to a small bump in spending to get Democrats to delay final budget decisions until the next session of Congress, Congressional Quarterly reported. LINK

Farm Bill The top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee said that House leaders seem to have decided that a five-year farm bill is not an option and also seem to have embraced the idea of a one-year extension of the current law, CQ reported. LINK 

Vermont

EEE Outbreak A cut in federal funds is hampering state efforts to monitor mosquito populations in Vermont connected with an outbreak of Eastern equine encephalitis that has so far claimed the life of one Vermonter and hospitalized another. Erica Berl, a state Health Department infectious disease epidemiologist, said this year's $50,000 grant is short of the $90,000 and $190,000 that Vermont received in recent years, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

Gay Marriage Vermont joined New York and Connecticut in asking a federal appeals court to void the federal law against gay marriage. Attorney General William H. Sorrell said the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman, has deprived same-sex couples of federal benefits and unfairly discriminates against them, AP reported.

Vermont Yankee Nearly a year after Dummerston leaders expressed concern about their town's response and evacuation plan in case of a disaster at the nearby Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, a state official is pledging to help,the Brattleboro Reformer reported. LINK