News November 17

Senator Sanders 

White House Budget Talks Congressional leaders said talks on Friday with President Barack Obama at the White House were a good first step on averting scheduled spending cuts and tax hikes. Sen. Bernie Sanders said there are "fair ways to reduce the $1 trillion federal deficit ... but balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor is not among them," United Press International and Democracy Now! reported. LINK, VIDEO

Sanders to Obama: ‘Don't Betray Us' Will President Obama stand up to congressional Republicans and defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? "If you win an election and you don't do what your supporters wanted you to do, it's an act of betrayal. The president is a very, very smart guy and I hope he understand that," Sen. Sanders said on The Tavis Smiley Show. AUDIO

Democratic Infighting Sen. Mitch McConnell linked revenue and entitlement reforms in remarks to reporters after the White House meeting. He is hoping to get the Democrats fighting one another, Ed Schultz said on MSNBC. "It seems to me like he's up to something here. He knows how far Sen. Sanders and other Democrats are going to defend the big three: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," Schultz said in a setup for an interview with Rep. Chris van Hollen. VIDEO        

USPS The struggling U.S. Postal Service reported an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion and forecast more red ink in 2013. The revenue problem can be solved by modernizing the postal service, Ed Schultz said on MSNBC. "The great Bernie Sanders says this is what we can do about it: ‘The Postal Service has to change. It has to be entrepreneurial, much more pro-consumer ...'" VIDEO

USPS A Republican Congress acting at the behest of the Bush-Cheney administration enacted a law that required the postal service to "pre-fund" retiree health benefits 75 years into the future creating a budget crisis where the wasn't one before, John Nichols blogged for The Nation. He quoted Sanders saying, "The Postal Service should also be allowed to recover more than $13 billion in overpayments it has made to its pension plans. With these changes alone, the Postal Service would be back in the black and posting profits." LINK

Citizens United One thing the recent elections showed was that voters do not want corporate money to dominate our politics any more than they want corporations to dominate our lives. Add your name to this public letter supporting a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Citizens United decision and implore your elected reps to support Sen. Bernie Sanders' Saving American Democracy Amendment, The Nation urged online readers. LINK

Chairman Sanders With Sen. Patty Murray stepping down as chairwoman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Sen. Sanders is expected to take the helm. "Bernie is a strong defender of veterans' rights and proud of accomplishments for veterans in Vermont and America," said his spokesman, Jeff Frank. "He has enormous respect for Sen. Murray and for all of her work on behalf of veterans." Murray is taking the helm of the Senate Budget Committee but will remain a member of the VA panel, Politico reported. LINK

Sanders and Veterans "Sen. Sanders has been a strong advocate for veterans' issues. He has pushed to expand veterans' health care, opposed budget cuts that would trim military retirement and veterans' disability cost-of-living allowances and co-sponsored the new Post 9/11 GI Bill, which dramatically expanded educational benefits for new veterans. Sen. Sanders has also worked tirelessly to ensure that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans get proper care for invisible injuries that if left untreated, can tragically lead to suicide," Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, wrote for The Huffington Post. LINK

Special Interests The United States government is ... saddled with all manner of commitments made by Congress to various constituent groups (i.e. "special interests") that would stand by and watch the economy go over the cliff before giving up or, even, cutting back a little. No changes to Social Security or Medicare, thunders Sen. Sanders and he is not the only one. Merely the loudest," Geoffrey Norman wrote in a Caledonian-Record column. LINK

World

Israel Retaliates for Attack on Jerusalem Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with nearly 200 airstrikes early Saturday. The Israeli bombing campaign flattened the cabinet headquarters. The new attacks, which Gaza officials say left 10 dead, followed an unprecedented rocket strike aimed at the contested holy city of Jerusalem, CBS News and The New York Times reported. LINK, LINK

National

Budget Talks Republican and Democratic congressional leaders believe they can reach a budget deal by the end of the year to avert the looming fiscal cliff after talks with President Obama. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said negotiators would work through Thanksgiving break to forge an agreement and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for setting a Christmas deadline, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Governors Say No on Insurance Exchanges More Republican governors announced Friday they would not implement a key part of the new healthcare law, despite a new attempt by the Obama administration to give states more time to develop plans to put the Affordable Care Act in place. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Maine Gov. Paul LePage joined more than a dozen GOP governors who have notified the administration they will not set up state insurance exchanges next year, instead leaving the job to the federal government, the Los Angeles Times reported. LINK

Deadline Extended For the second time this week, the Obama administration said it was extending the deadline for states to decide whether they will establish and operate online markets where consumers can shop for health insurance under new health insurance law. Friday was original deadline but that has now been extended until the middle of next month, The New York Times reported. LINK

Vermont

UVM Workers Decline Union Office workers at the University of Vermont have voted against union representation. The workers voted 443-189 against joining the University Staff Union-NEA. Four other unions represent over 1,500 UVM staff, the Times Argus reported. LINK