News December 1

Senator Sanders

Sanders on Taxes President Obama warned Friday of a "Scrooge" Christmas if Congress does not pass legislation extending tax cuts for most Americans. Sen. Bernie Sanders told radio host Thom Hartmann on Friday that the House should vote on a Senate-passed bill that would extend tax cuts for 98 percent of American workers. “What we are saying is just pass what the Senate passed,” Sanders said. “My hope is that the Republicans catch on to what the American people want and help us come forward with a fair deficit-reduction package.”

The Face of Class Warfare Sen. Sanders derided Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, along with other Wall Street leaders, for pushing for cuts to entitlement programs as a part of the nation’s budget negotiations, according to a CNN article published Saturday in The Keene (N.H.) Sentinel. “I do have a problem with wealthy CEOs from Wall Street who caused the recession now coming to Washington and saying, if you’re old, if you’re sick, or if you’re poor, we’re going to cut your benefits. “I frankly think that’s obscene. We don’t need advice from the people who caused this recession through their greed and illegal behavior.”

Their Fair Share “The American people are very clear that at a time when the middle class is disappearing and the people on top are doing phenomenally well -- as Warren Buffett reminds us, their effective tax rate is quite low -- you know what the American people have said? The wealthy are going to have to start paying their fair share of taxes,” Sen. Sanders was recorded as saying in the transcript of an interview with Wolf Blitzer published by Real Clear Politics. LINK

Clean Energy Sens. Bernie Sanders and James Inhofe attached language to a pending defense authorization bill that would allow the federal government to use geothermal heat pumps to meet a clean energy target. The amendment clarifies that geothermal heat pumps are an eligible technology for the government to employ to meet a requirement that federal agencies procure 7.5 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2013, Environment and Energy News reported. LINK

Susan Rice Susan Rice’s stock holdings in oil sands-related companies may affect her standing with liberal lawmakers, particularly opponents of the Keystone pipeline, The Hill blogged. “As somebody who is very much against that project, I want to make sure that anybody who looks at it does it in an objective manner,” said Sen. Sanders, a leading opponent of a proposed pipeline that would carry Tar Sands oil from Canada to Texas. “Whether that influences her judgment, I don’t know.” LINK

Media FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is getting pushback from Sen. Sanders and top Democrats related to proposed rule changes that would loosen cross-ownership limits. Sanders and other top Democrats said in a letter that current media ownership rules have been a “bulwark” against mass consolidation. They called for a “clear, evidence-based response” to concerns about the impact of the rules on the diversity of media ownership, Broadcasting & Cable reported. LINK

National Press Club Sen. Sanders will discuss ongoing budget negotiations, the so-called fiscal cliff and the need to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from potential cuts during an appearance Wednesday at the National Press Club. LINK

Filibuster Reform Sens. Patrick Leahy and Sanders must back efforts to limit the power of the minority to rule the day. In the past Democrats have been reluctant to do so because they wanted to reserve the filibuster power for the day when they were in the minority. But the Republicans have overplayed their hand, abusing the filibuster to such an extent that action is required, the Rutland Herald editorialized. LINK

World

Israeli Settlements As the United nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the Palestinians’ status Thursday night, Israel took steps toward building housing in a controversial area of East Jerusalem known as E1, where Jewish settlements have long been seen as the death knell for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The decision was widely seen as punishment for the Palestinians’ success in upgrading its U.N. status and is opposed by the United States, The New York Times reported. LINK

National

Less Progressive Taxes In 2010 most Americans paid far less in total taxes – federal, state and local – and gave up a smaller share of their income to taxes than they would have 30 years ago, when adjusted for inflation. Households earning more than $200,000 benefitted from the largest percentage declines in total taxation as a share of income; over 85 percent of households earning over $25,000 also paid less in taxes; but about half of lower-income households paid about the same in total taxes as compared to 1980, according to a report by The New York Times. LINK

Vermont

Gregory Clark Gregory Clark, longtime educator and Republican member of the Vermont House of Representatives from Vergennes, was killed in an accident, according to police. Clark had served in the Vermont House since 2003 and was recently re-elected to a sixth term, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

Education Vermont had the third-best high school graduation rate in the United States, according to rankings released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Education, the Times Argus reported. LINK

Renewable Energy Tax credits that are seen as vital for the renewable energy industry are set to expire at the end of the year. Vermont's congressional delegation supports extending the credits but the legislation is tied up in high-level budget and revenue negotiations now underway between Congress and the White House, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Vermont Yankee The Public Service Board, in a decision Thursday, essentially rejected a request from Entergy Corp. to be excused from promises it made to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant by March 21 if it hadn't secured new permits from the state to operate and produce highly radioactive spent fuel.

State Revenues Despite a slow national economic recovery, Vermont's revenues are coming in on target with projections, though expenses are rising. Because the demand for state services has continued to grow, the Legislature is looking at a $50-$70 million budget gap for the next fiscal year, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK