News November 27

Senator Sanders

Sanders: ‘I Get Nervous’ As Congress returned Monday, empowered Democrats were resisting significant changes in programs like Social Security and Medicare as part of a deal to resolve a year-end fiscal crisis. “I get very nervous when I hear the president and others continue to talk about ‘entitlement reform,’ which I’m afraid is just another word for cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, maybe even Social Security, Sen. Bernie Sanders told Elliot Spitzer on Current TV. “I get nervous that instead of bringing back the old Clinton-era tax rates for the wealthiest people — 39.6 [percent] — there may be a way to wiggle out of that.” LINK, LINK, VIDEO

A ‘Raw Deal’ The White House is laying the groundwork for what could be “a raw deal for the middle class,” Ed Schultz said on MSNBC. Obama senior adviser David Plouffe said the deal will blend tax reform and entitlement reform. Sen. Sanders said Plouffe’s remark “concerns me deeply.” Americans do not want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits, Sanders said, and overwhelming majorities favor making the wealthiest people and the largest corporations help tame the deficit. Citing the latest poll, Schultz concluded that “the public agrees with Sen. Sanders.” VIDEO

No New Year’s Cataclysm If some Democrats had their way, the country wouldn’t be facing the “fiscal cliff” but a “fiscal slope,” “fiscal curve” or even an “austerity crisis.” If there’s no deal by Dec. 31, Obama still has authority to stall in implementing the big tax and spending changes. “This is not like the debt ceiling debate where in fact, if you don’t pay your bills on a certain date, there are very dramatic repercussions,” Sen. Sanders told Politico. “The truth of the matter is we could go into the next year, and if we can reach an agreement in the new Congress, in the first weeks or months or two, I don’t think a whole lot of people will know the difference. So it’s not like something cataclysmic happens on Dec. 31.” LINK

Social Security A 2 percent payroll tax cut trumpeted by lawmakers as a way to lift the sagging economy will expire on Dec. 31. Policymakers don't seem too upset. Sen. Sanders, a vocal advocate of social insurance programs, on Monday told The Huffington Post that he is “strongly opposed” to extending the tax holiday since doing so could damage Social Security's solvency. “The middle class deserves tax relief, but not at the expense of Social Security,” Sanders said. LINK

VA Clinic Plans to build a new $2.6 million outpatient clinic for veterans in Burlington, Vt., are moving forward. Sen. Sanders said Monday that the Department of Veterans Affairs has picked a contractor — Fortieth Burlington LLC — to build the facility, which will replace a clinic in Colchester that has outgrown its space. The new clinic will be nearly twice as large as the Colchester clinic and serve about 4,000 veterans, The Associated Press, Vermont Public Radio, the Burlington Free Press online and VTDigger.org reported. LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK

Citizens United “Personally, I could support Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Saving American Democracy Amendment, which would amend the U.S. Constitution to make it clear that ‘1) Corporations are not persons with constitutional rights equal to real people, 2) Corporations are subject to regulation by the people, 3) Corporations may not make campaign contributions or any election expenditures, and 4) Congress and states have the power to regulate campaign finances,’” Edgar Allen Beem wrote for The (Maine) Forecaster. LINK

World

Egyptian Democracy President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt agreed to limit the scope of a sweeping decree he had issued last week that raised his edicts above any judicial review, according to a report by a television network allied with his party. The change places a lone check on his power, although Morsi has retained the right to protect the country’s constitutional council from dissolution by the court until it finishes its work, The New York Times reported. LINK

National

Budget Negotiations The White House warned that the average family will pay $2,200 more in taxes next year if Congress does not freeze tax rates for the middle class in a new report published as part of President Obama’s campaign to extend tax cuts for most Americans while allowing taxes on the wealthiest to rise, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Obama Taking Case to People President Obama plans to make a public case this week for his strategy for dealing with the looming fiscal cliff, traveling to the Philadelphia suburbs Friday as he pressures Republicans to allow tax increases on the wealthy while extending tax cuts for families earning $250,000 or less. The White House said Tuesday that the president intends to hold a series of events to build support for his approach to avoid across-the-board tax increases and steep spending cuts in defense and domestic programs, The Associated Press reported.

Lasting Recession The 261 million people who live in cities and suburbs across the United States still haven't recovered earning power lost in the economic downturn, USA Today reported. Average income per person fell 3.5 percent in metropolitan areas between 2007 and 2011 after adjusting for inflation, according to data released Monday by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. LINK

Vermont

Welch: Tax Internet Sales Rep. Peter Welch wants online retailers to play by the same rules as Main Street merchants. Welch is working on a bill called the Main Street Fairness Act. He says the bill levels the playing field between brick and mortar stores -- and those on the Internet. The act would require online companies to collect a sales tax-- if the buyer lives in a state that has one, WCAX-TV reported. LINK