Social Security Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner echoed a White House message during a string of Sunday show interviews: no Social Security talks as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations. “We're prepared to, in a separate process, look at how to strengthen Social Security,” Geithner said on ABC's This Week. “But not as part of a process to reduce the other deficits the country faces.” Sen. Bernie Sanders applauded the White House stance. He said more than 55 million Americans who've earned those benefits will get to keep them. Sanders said Social Security has not contributed to the nation's debt and therefore should not be cut, ABC 22, Fox 44 and vtdigger.org reported. LINK, VIDEO, VIDEO
Media Ownership Nine senators urged FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski not to relax the commission's media cross-ownership rules. The commission is planning a vote to allow waivers of a ban on cross-ownership among daily newspapers and TV stations in top-20 markets. Sen. Sanders and others said the commission should avoid such a decision, which they said has the potential to harm minority communities who would suffer from further media consolidation. TV and radio ownership by women and minorities "remains at abysmally low levels," the senators added.
Global Warming A scientific study published on Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change concluded that the world’s rapid increase in fossil fuel emissions now makes a global average temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius all but inevitable. That comes on top of a recent stack of high-profile scientific and economic reports reaching similarly sobering conclusions. Two degrees is the point at which scientists say the polar ice sheets will melt and vast swathes of land will no longer be arable. LINK
Pushing G.O.P. to Negotiate, Obama Ends Giving In Amid demands from Republicans that President Obama propose detailed new spending cuts to avert the year-end fiscal crisis, his answer boils down to this: you first. Mr. Obama, scarred by failed negotiations in his first term and emboldened by a clear if close election to a second, has emerged as a different kind of negotiator in the past week or two, sticking to the liberal line and frustrating Republicans on the other side of the bargaining table, according to The New York Times. LINK
Fiscal Cliff Talks at Stalemate The White House and congressional Republicans remained at loggerheads—in both public and private—over how to design a deficit-reduction package, with just a few weeks remaining before the nation hits the fiscal cliff. Leading figures on both sides doubled down on their positions in interviews that aired Sunday, and they blamed each other for the current standoff, reflecting the talks that House Speaker John Boehner told "Fox News Sunday" have gone "nowhere," The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK
Honestly Only 10 percent of Americans think members of Congress have a very high or high honesty rating, ranking them second-lowest behind only car salespeople, according to a new Gallup poll released on Monday. Of those polled, 34 percent rated the honesty level of congressmen and congresswomen as average, while 54 percent rated them low or very low. Senators and governors have slightly higher honesty ratings, though not by much. LINK
Renewable Energy James Moore has hired 25 employees in the past year at Suncommon, his thriving residential solar business. He credits a 55-cent-per-watt rebate that his customers receive from a public fund established by Vermont lawmakers in 2005. Suncommon is among the 300 Vermont energy businesses that have derived financial benefits from the Clean Energy Development Fund, and will be among those pushing forcefully for renewed funding in the fiscal year 2014 budget, the Vermont Press Bureau reported. LINK
Shumlin to Chair Democratic Governors Gov. Peter Shumlin is expected to be elected as the new chairman of the Democratic Governors Association at their annual meeting on Tuesday. Shumlin's election by the nation's 20 other Democratic governors is virtually assured. Outgoing chairman Martin O'Malley of Maryland has endorsed Shumlin and no other challengers have emerged, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK