News November 14

Senator Sanders

Tax Evaders Advocates for small businesses are challenging the motives of chief executives from major U.S. firms who will meet Wednesday with President Obama to discuss efforts to avert the "fiscal cliff." Small businesses worry that the CEOs of General Electric, Honeywell and IBM may sell them out. Some conservative lobbyists are even circulating documents that criticize the corporate chiefs as "tax dodgers" on the grounds that their companies avoid paying federal corporate taxes. One of those documents was circulated by Sen. Bernard Sanders, The Washington Post reported. LINK

CEOs A group of 80 CEOs last month issued a statement to Congress pleading for a deficit reduction plan that would include cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and a decrease in taxes "for the top 2 percent." According to Sen. Sanders, many of these CEOs have evaded at least $34.5 billion in taxes through more than 600 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens since 2008, Ted Braun wrote in a Crossville (Tenn.) Chronicle column. LINK

Social Security After meeting Tuesday with President Obama, liberal activists seemed confident the president will stand firm on ending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy but progressive groups, including big labor, are warning him against making concessions on social programs. On Thursday, seniors groups and liberal lawmakers are planning a rally on Capitol Hill, The Christian Science Monitor reported. "We will make it very clear we will not be supportive of cuts to Medicare and Social Security," Sen. Sanders told The Washington Post. "It would be a huge shock and disappointment if the president forgot the reality that he just won a major victory." LINK

Social Security Social Security is a popular and well-run program, Paul Buchheit wrote for As Sen. Sanders puts it: "Social Security, which is funded by the payroll tax, has not contributed one nickel to the deficit and, according to its trustees, can pay 100 percent of all benefits owed to every eligible American for the next 21 years." LINK

Deficit Negotiations A growing number of Democrats are suggesting that instead of reaching a deal, they should revisit deficit negotiations after Jan. 1. Progressive activists say the White House should be ready to walk away from the bargaining table. Sen. Patty Murray added her voice Sunday. Rep. Peter Welch and Sen. Bernie Sanders argue it may be the only option. The thinking is that, once taxes rise, lawmakers would then be able to say they voted to cut taxes, according to Politico. LINK

Deficit Talks "If you want to be serious about deficit reduction you're going to have to allow the tax rates for upper income people to go back to the Clinton era - that is where the money is," Sen. Bernie Sanders told Current TV's Eliot Spitzer. "I certainly hope that the president will keep his campaign promise that we are not going to extend the tax breaks for the top 2 percent." VIDEO, LINK

Balanced Budget With President Obama suggesting he could accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security, Sen. Sanders called the 2012 elections a rejection of such cuts, Democracy Now! reported. "There are ways to move toward a balanced budget which are fair. I think Mr. Boehner has got to understand they lost, and let the wishes of the majority of the people in this country prevail," said Sanders. VIDEO

Sanders and Boehner Sen. Sanders said the notion that because Republicans still control the House they have a mandate to protect the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, an idea expressed by House Speaker John Boehner, is ludicrous, John Michael Spinelli blogged for He quoted Sen. Sanders: "I think Mr. Boehner has got to understand they lost, and let the wishes of the majority of the people in this country prevail." LINK 

Climate Change After Hurricane Sandy, Sen. Sanders urged action on global warming: "Hurricane Sandy is a wake-up call for all Americans that we must act to reverse global warming." Sandy has made climate change a pressing national issue, wrote Mark E. Rondeau in a column for the Bennington Banner, and will help spur real political action to limit it. LINK

Secretary Lew? During White House chief of staff Jack Lew's 2009 confirmation hearing for head of the Office of Management and Budget, Sen. Sanders asked him if deregulation contributed significantly to the collapse on Wall Street. "I don't consider myself an expert in some of these aspects of the financial industry," Lew answered. "I don't think deregulation was the proximate cause." Business Insider said Lew's statement "might be enough to disqualify him from the succeeding" Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. LINK

Petraeus Scandal Sen. Sanders and other lawmakers have been critical of the FBI's management of the investigation of ex-CIA Director David Petraeus, saying Congress should have been notified of the investigation sooner. Petraeus is being investigated because of an alleged extramarital affair, The Hill blogged. LINK

Senate Progressives With more progressives in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid may have a difficult time balancing their wants against those of centrist Democrats. But Reid has already had plenty of practice, spending "the last couple of years juggling the competing concerns of (moderates) Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson against the demands of (progressives) Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders," a former spokesman for Reid told CNN. LINK

Senate Independents Angus King of Maine is the first independent to win a Senate seat while being challenged by both major parties since 1922. In 2006 and 2012, Sen. Sanders did not face a Democratic challenger, Paul H. Mills wrote for the Bangor Daily News. King talked with Sens. Sanders and Joe Lieberman, two New England independents who caucus with Democrats, about their experience in the Democratic Caucus, National Journal reported. LINK, LINK

Veterans Day More than 100 people gathered Monday at Lyndon State College to pay tribute to those willing to lay down their lives for our freedoms as Americans. A letter was read on behalf of Sen. Sanders by Sam Haskins, veteran affairs liaison, expressing Sanders' regret he could not be at the dedication in person. He wrote that the nation's veterans have given our nation "a debt we can never fully repay," and vowed to do all he could to assist returning veterans, The Caledonian-Record reported. LINK

‘Fiscal Cliff' Sen. Sanders "is, predictably, pugnacious and Luciferian in his anticipation of the Fall and views it as liberating.  Rep. Peter Welch takes a "more in sorrow than anger" view. And Patrick Leahy does the Solomonic routine you would expect from one who was first elected to the Senate in 1974," Geoffrey Norman blogged from Vermont for The Weekly Standard. LINK


China's President Steps Aside President Hu Jintao stepped aside as ruling party leader Wednesday to clear the way for Vice President Xi Jinping to take China's helm as part of only the second orderly transfer of power in 63 years of communist rule, The Associated Press reported. LINK 

France Recognizes Syria Rebels France announced Tuesday that it was recognizing the newly formed Syrian rebel coalition and would consider arming the group, seeking to inject momentum into a broad Western and Arab effort to build a viable and effective opposition that would hasten the end of a stalemated civil war that has destabilized the Middle East, The New York Times reported. LINK

Workers Strike Across Europe For the first time since the start of the euro crisis, labor unrest took on a European dimension on Wednesday as Spanish and Portuguese workers coordinated a general strike while unions in Greece and Italy planned protests and work stoppages, The New York Times reported. LINK


Obama Sets Steep Tax Target President Obama will begin budget negotiations with congressional leaders Friday by calling for $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenue over the next decade, far more than Republicans are likely to accept and double the $800 billion discussed in talks with GOP leaders during the summer of 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Veterans COLA A bill to provide a cost-of-living adjustment for disabled veterans and survivors that stalled amidst partisan strife in late September passed the Senate on Tuesday, meaning that the 1.7 percent increase is expected to be included in checks to be sent in January, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Congress Resumes With a Republican Fight The battle to shape the Republican Party's direction after its electoral losses will see its first skirmish in the Capitol on Wednesday in a House leadership fight in which the profile might be low but the symbolism is high. The House's Republican leaders would dearly like to elevate Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to lead the House Republican Conference, putting a female face into the pantheon of the white male Republican leaders. LINK


Shumlin Shuffle Bill Lofy will leave his job as Gov. Peter Shumlin's chief of staff to go to work for the Democratic Governors Association, a group whose chairmanship Shumlin is seeking in an election next month. Alex MacLean, who has managed both of Shumlin's campaigns for governor and served during his first term as secretary of civil and military affairs, will step down in the near future to explore opportunities in the private sector, AP reported. LINK

House Speaker Challenge Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith faces competition. Rep. Paul Poirier, an independent from Barre, says he's also running for the post, AP reported. LINK 

Vermont Yankee Both the state and lawyers for Vermont Yankee filed written arguments to a federal appeals court as the legal battle continues over the future of Vermont Yankee. Lawyers for plant owner Entergy Corp. are continuing to argue that the state Legislature improperly waded into issues of nuclear safety when it gave itself the authority to block future operations of the plant and then tried to do so, AP reported. LINK