News December 15

Senator Sanders 

Nation Reels After School Massacre A man killed his mother at home and then opened fire Friday inside a Connecticut elementary school where she taught, massacring 26 people, including 20 young children, as youngsters cowered in their classrooms and trembled helplessly to the sound of gunfire reverberating through the building, The Associated Press reported. It was a “horror show,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said on The Thom Hartmann Program. As a grandfather of seven children, the senator added that “our thoughts and prayers are with the families.” AUDIO

Gun Debate In an emotional statement on the school shootings, President Obama signaled that a long-dormant debate on guns in America may be re-engaged, The New York Times reported. “We have been through this too many times. We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” Obama said. He mentioned a recent attack in an Oregon shopping mall and shootings last July in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. WCAX-TV reported that Sen. Sanders issued a statement saying that “as a nation, we must do all that we can to figure out how tragedies like this do not continue to occur.” Sen. Chuck Schumer echoed Sanders’ sentiment. “Perhaps an awful tragedy like this will bring us together so we can do what it takes to prevent this horror from being repeated again." LINK, LINK

Deficit Talks Republicans have proposed making the formula used for cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security and other programs less generous. It's something known as a chained CPI, referring to the consumer price index. Sen. Sanders earlier this week rallied opponents of such reforms, National Public Radio reported Saturday. "People are very clear about what they want, and then you got folks here inside the Beltway who get huge amounts of campaign contributions from the wealthy and large corporations. They have a different perspective," he said, "but we have the people on our side." LINK

Veterans’ Committee As he takes over the chairmanship of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Sen. Sanders says his immediate concerns are to fight a proposal that would reduce benefits for veterans and their families and to expedite disability claims. The appointment marks his first full committee chairmanship since first being elected to that chamber in 2006, the Times Argus reported online. LINK

Media Monopolies Five House Democrats joined Sen. Sanders and a growing chorus of lawmakers calling on the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider its proposed plan to relax media ownership rules. The change would allow a single company to own a TV broadcast station and a newspaper in the same market, and would also eliminate bans on newspaper-radio and TV-radio cross-ownership, The Hill blogged. LINK

Citizens United More and more of us are recognizing the need for a constitutional amendment that encompasses overturning Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that has opened the floodgates for corporate spending on elections. Sen. Sanders has supported such an amendment, Phil Wolfson wrote for The Huffington Post. LINK

Top Saver Sen. Sanders had a large amount of money left over after his landslide senate victory in November, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Only Bob Corker saved more than Sanders’ $4.2 million, The Hill and OpenSecrets blogged. LINK

A ‘Winner’ Sen. Sanders nabbed a Senate committee chairmanship, a New York Times profile and had a fight over gas prices with Skip Vallee this week. That was enough for Seven Days to declare the senator a “winner.” LINK

National

Republicans Conceding on Taxes Faced with a stubborn budget impasse, a growing number of Republicans say the party may be better off dropping its current fight over taxes and engaging in a bigger battle next year using the debt ceiling as leverage. Obama has said he will not negotiate with Republicans if they try to use the debt limit as leverage, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

CEO Joins White House Negotiations Honeywell International CEO David Cote is in the middle of budget negotiations at the White House, emailing or talking to a senior White House adviser several times at all hours every day and listening to directives from senior House Republicans as well. “We’re not confident that our guys can govern anymore,” said Cote, who switches out of the jeans he typically wears into a suit and tie when summoned by lawmakers, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK 

Vermont 

Justices Limit Digital Search The Vermont Supreme Court ruled Friday that a lower court judge can limit a police search of a computer and other electronic devices in an identity theft case, a decision the American Civil Liberties Union is calling a big boost for electronic privacy. The state had complained that a lower court judge had placed too many restrictions on a search warrant Burlington police had obtained for a man’s computer and other electronic devices, AP reported. LINK

Homelessness in Burlington With winter coming, the city’s shelters packed, another shelter closed and the cost of housing people in motels on the rise, Burlington is facing serious problems in housing its homeless citizens. The director of a United Way member groups wants to city to build an overflow shelter, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK 

Drivers’ Licenses for Immigrants Dozens of migrant workers and their supporters rallied at the Vermont Statehouse while a special legislative panel indicated that it will urge the 2013 Legislature to give drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrant farm workers. Gov. Shumlin also supports the concept of extending driving privileges to undocumented workers, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Thomas Naylor, 76 The founder of the secessionist Second Vermont Republic died this week after suffering a stroke on Sunday. The Charlotte resident wanted Vermont to leave the United States and create a second Vermont Republic (the first existed from 1777-1791, before Vermont joined the Union) because he believed “America is no longer a sustainable nation-state economically, politically, socially, militarily or environmentally," Seven Days blogged. LINK