News November 13

Senator Sanders

Save Social Security and Medicare Leaders of the nation's labor unions and other liberal groups plan Tuesday to press President Obama at the White House to reject the kind of cuts in Medicare and Social Security that he has previously offered to make. On Thursday, left-leaning lawmakers and seniors groups plan to rally on Capitol Hill against any changes to entitlements. "We will make it very clear we will not be supportive of cuts to Medicare and Social Security. It would be a huge shock and disappointment if the president forgot the reality that he just won a major victory," Sen. Bernie Sanders told The Washington Post. LINK

Hands Off Social Security Sen. Sanders says cuts to Social Security should not be a part of any deficit reduction package used to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax increases slated to take effect Jan. 1., The Associated Press reported. "Poll after poll after poll that I have seen tell me that the American people do not believe you cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and continue to give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires," Sanders said on WPTZ-TV. "Social Security has not contributed a nickel to the deficit, it is independently funded by the payroll tax and has a $2.7 trillion surplus, so let's get Social Security off the table," he said on WCAX-TV. LINK, LINK, LINK, VIDEO

No Deal Beats Bad Deal If an acceptable deal on tax increases and spending cuts can't be reached by year's end, briefly going over the "fiscal cliff" may be necessary, Sen. Sanders said in the Burlington Free Press. "I would prefer to address it in the next session of Congress to get a good solution than have a bad agreement this session," he said on WCAX-TV. Sanders would prefer to reach agreement before Jan. 1 but "it's not like you're going over the cliff and nothing can be done the day after," he said on ABC 22 and Fox 44. One reason Sanders thinks next year will be different is that he and other senators hope to change the filibuster rules, an action they hope to take on the first day of the new session, according to vtdigger.org LINK, LINK, LINK, VIDEO, VIDEO

Sanders to Boehner: ‘You Lost' House Speaker John Boehner says nothing about tax hikes on the wealthy which is a basic position for Democrats and independent Senator Sanders. "Mr. Boehner has got to understand they lost," Sanders said on NBC Radio News. "Mr. Boehner has got to understand they lost and let the wishes of the majority of the people in this country prevail," Sanders told Chris Jansing Monday on MSNBC. VIDEO,AUDIO

Chained CPI Retirement benefits would continue to grow over time, but at a slower pace, by changing the formula for measuring inflation for consumer prices. Using a so-called chained CPI, the Social Security actuary estimated that by age 75 the benefit would be between 96 and 97 percent of current projected benefits. By age 85, the benefit would be between 93 and 94 percent. Translated into today's annual benefit level, that amounts to $560 lower at age 75 and nearly $1,000 lower at age 85. "Yet lawmakers should be careful about using the word ‘cut' when speaking about future benefits," The Washington Post fact checker tsk tsked. LINK

CIA Congress should have known about the FBI investigation of David Petraeus before he resigned as CIA director last week, Sen. Sanders said on MSNBC. But Sanders said Petraeus would not be a distraction from negotiations over the deficit. "I just came from a campaign in the state of Vermont, and the issue that's on people's minds is not David Petraeus; it's the economy, it's what's happening to the middle class, and it's how we deal with deficit reduction and the fiscal cliff," he said in a quote picked up by The Hill. LINK, VIDEO

Amen Bill Press on Current TV on Tuesday played a statement by Sanders that Congress main focus should be on fair ways to cut the deficit, not on the Petraeus scandal. "I'm confident we have the American people on our side who want deficit reduction but want it done in a way that is fair." "Amen, right?" said Press. "Amen to Bernie," said Rep. Peter Welch. "That makes sense to me. I think he's dead-on." VIDEO

Chairman Sanders Five Senate panels will get new leaders in the next session of Congress. Sen. Sanders is expected to wield the Veterans' Affairs gavel. "Be nice to me, I'm moving up in the world," Sanders joked in an interview Monday with Congressional Quarterly. Sanders "has been a liberal champion of generous veterans' health care and job training initiatives ..." CQ added. LINK

Sanders Landslide Sen. Sanders received 71 percent of the vote in his reelection bid. Two years ago, Sen. Patrick Leahy received 64.3 percent.  President Obama received 67.4 percent of the vote in Vermont in 2008 and 67 percent in 2012 - but in 2008 he got a lot more votes, about 20,000 more, according to the Burlington Free Press. LINK

Socialists This is "the most left-wing Senate in history," conservative columnist David Harsanyi wrote in The Daily Gazette in Schenectady and Albany, N.Y.  Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin "vote with socialist Bernie Sanders because ... by European standards, that's exactly what they are."

National

CIA Scandal Widens Gen. John R. Allen, the top American and NATO commander in Afghanistan, is under investigation for what a senior defense official said early Tuesday was "inappropriate communication" with Jill Kelley, the woman in Tampa, Fla., who was seen as a rival for David H. Petraeus' attentions by Paula Broadwell, who had an extramarital affair with Petraeus, The New York Times reported. LINK

U.S. to Top Saudis as Oil Producer The International Energy Agency has dramatically revised its oil supply predictions for the next 20 years and now expects the U.S. to overtake Saudi Arabia to become the world's largest oil producer by 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Vermont

Gas Prices The price of gas is continuing to go down in Vermont. The website Vermontgasprices.com reports the price averaged $3.68 gallon on Monday, down 7 cents in a week. Nationally, the average price per gallon was $3.46. Vermont's gas prices are still 18 cents higher than they were a year ago, but 25 cents cheaper than a month ago, AP reported. LINK

Heat Wave The National Weather Service says several record-high temperatures were recorded in Vermont on Monday. It hit 70 degrees in Burlington, breaking a record high of 66 set on Nov. 12 in 1982 and 1964. Montpelier also set a record high of 69 degrees and St. Johnsbury set a record of 66 degrees, AP reported. LINK