News December 4

Senator Sanders

GOP Budget Plan Sen. Sanders appeared on MSNBC's Politics Nation to talk with Rev. Al Sharpton about the ongoing budget negotiations. "I think when the people understand that they [Republicans] want to maintain tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, whose effective tax rate is very, very low and at the same time they want to balance the budget by cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, I think people all over this country are going to say, you guys are nuts, you're really out of touch with what ordinary Americans are thinking and believing," said Sanders. VIDEO

‘Fiscal Cliff’ A number of lawmakers, as well as prominent investors like Warren Buffett, are arguing that, counter to all the doomsday predictions, the U.S. economy would not go off the rails if Congress failed to avoid the automatic spending cuts and tax increases that are now set to be triggered in January. “It’s not like something cataclysmic happens on Dec. 31,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said, The Christian Science Monitor reported. LINK

Unemployment Insurance A majority of Senate Democrats are backing a yearlong extension of federal unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of the year. Sen. Sanders has joined Democrats in support of extending benefits, signing a letter supporting the measure. More than 2 million would lose their unemployment on Dec. 30 without congressional action, The Hill blogged. LINK

Online Privacy The Senate Judiciary Committee will debate a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Sanders Thursday that would require companies like Apple and Google to get a customer’s consent before collecting or sharing mobile location data, The Hill blogged. LINK

The Speech While discussing the potential for filibuster reform in the Senate, MSNBC’s Mellissa Harris-Perry noted on Sunday that the last senator to hold the floor for an extended period was Sen. Bernie Sanders in December of 2010. “I remember Bernie Sanders doing this and my twitter feed going nuts with enthusiasm after two years of saying we should get rid of the filibuster. Then it was like go Bernie, go Bernie, go,” said Harris-Perry. VIDEO

Filibuster Reform While minority senators can now block legislation by simply announcing they intend to filibuster, Sen. Sanders took to the floor in a manner reminiscent of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” speaking against an extension of the Bush tax cuts for over eight hours in 2010, The Atlantic blogged. LINK

Financial Transaction Tax The Progressive Caucus last week held a panel presentation on the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act that would implement a tax that experts believe will reduce volatility and stem the growth of the financial sector. A handout at the meeting stated that Sen. Sanders was a co-sponsor on the Senate version of the bill, Moneynews reported. LINK

Third Parties There will be only two senators in 113th Congress who are not members of the dominant parties, Angus King (I-Maine) and Sen. Sanders, and none in the House. To increase these numbers, third parties should focus on winning state and local elections, and then parlay those successes into victories at the national level, Jack Random wrote for Dissident Voice. LINK

Campaign Websites The websites for Vermont’s statewide candidates have all been ignored since election night except for the Friends of Bernie Sanders site which is “full of post-election news and links,” reports the Burlington Free Press. The Sanders site declares “We won! Thanks to all who helped re-elect Bernie Sanders.” LINK

World

Weapons Pact President Obama called on Russia on Monday to renew a two-decade-old nuclear disarmament program that Moscow has threatened to cancel as the two sides try to figure out the future of a rocky relationship now that elections in both countries are behind them, The New York Times reported. LINK

Syria Secretary of State Hilary Clinton warned President Bashar al-Assad of Syria not to use chemical weapons and said that the United States was prepared to act if he ignored the warning. The statements came in response to activity by the Syrian military that suggested “some potential chemical weapon preparation,” in the words of a U.S. official, The New York Times reported. LINK

National

Budget Deal President Obama and House speaker John A. Boehner want Congress to approve a first installment of deficit reductions that would replace the automatic spending cuts and tax increases that make up the “fiscal cliff,” while signaling Washington’s seriousness about reducing the country’s debt. Mr. Obama says the first installment should be large and consist almost entirely of tax increases on top incomes, while Republicans seek cuts to Medicare and other social programs, The New York Times reported. LINK

GOP Seeks Cuts House GOP leaders endorsed a plan to reduce the national debt that includes massive cuts to social programs and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. The GOP plan would lower the top tax, implement a so-called chained CPI that would drastically diminish Social Security benefits, raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and enact massive cuts of $300 billion to federal agency budgets, The Washington Post reported. LINK

PTSD A group of veterans and supporters have filed a class-action lawsuit against the armed forces arguing that they and other Vietnam veterans had post-traumatic stress disorder when they were issued other-than-honorable discharges that have restricted their employment options and led to benefit denials. A group of Yale legal students helping with the case estimate that more than a quarter million Vietnam-era veterans were discharged under other-than-honorable conditions, and that thousands of those probably had PTSD, The New York Times reported. LINK

SEC Charges The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged the Chinese affiliates of several major accounting firms with violating U.S. securities laws by refusing to produce audit work papers and other documents related to China-based companies under investigation for potential accounting fraud. The five firms charged are affiliates of Deloitte Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and BDO LINK, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Vermont

FEMA Delays Eighty-one property owners who were first accepted into FEMA’s hazard mitigation buyout program are still waiting for their money. The owners were expecting buyouts last March but now may have to wait until next March, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Education About a dozen Vermont schools made U.S. News and World Report’s top 2,000 schools. Stowe High School received the highest ranking, gold, with ten other schools receiving silver and four with bronze, WCAX-TV reported. LINK

Suspect Linked to Vermont Killings Israel Keyes, in jail for the killing of an Alaska barista, confessed that he had killed Bill and Lorrain Currier, a couple in Vermont, four people in Washington state and someone in New York, the Associated Press reported. LINK