The Week in Review

Across-the-board spending cuts totaling $85 billion are set to kick in on March 1 unless Congress and the White House reach agreement on an alternative. Sen. Bernie Sanders has called for profitable corporations to pay their fair share to help balance the budget. The American public continues to support a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit, according to a new poll released Thursday by USA Today. What do you think? In other news, China may tax polluters for emissions that cause global warming, the state-owned Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.  The development in Beijing drew comparisons to a new proposal for a carbon tax in the United States advocated by Sanders and Senate environment committee Chairman Barbara Boxer. Sanders and Boxer and others on the committee on Wednesday asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission why it hasn’t implemented safety measures at Vermont Yankee and other U.S. power plants with designs similar to a Japanese reactor that melted down two years ago.

Stop the Sequester The new poll by the Pew Research Center  for USA Today found that a plurality, 49 percent, think automatic cuts should be delayed if no deal is struck by the deadline. Meanwhile, President Obama remains interested in a big deficit-reduction deal that White House aides refer to as a grand bargain. The president has shown what The New York Times on Friday called a “continued willingness to swallow, over the intensifying objections of most of the left side of his party, a new way of calculating inflation adjustments for Social Security benefits that would reduce the growth of payments – in effect, a benefit cut.” As founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus and chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Sanders has rallied opponents of changing how inflation is calculated in a way designed to lower benefits for retirees and disabled veterans. 

Tax Havens Pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly and Pfizer have fought to make it illegal for the American people to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and Europe, but they shift drug patents and profits to the Netherlands and other offshore tax havens to avoid paying U.S. taxes, Sanders wrote in an op-ed published Thursday by the Bennington Banner. A Sanders bill would close loopholes corporations use to evade U.S. taxes. Read more

Global Warming A Chinese news agency signaled on Tuesday that the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases may soon tax carbon emissions. Sanders and Sen. Barbara Boxer have introduced legislation that would impose a carbon tax in the United States starting at $20 per ton.  Meanwhile, the League of Conservation Voters Wednesday released its 2012 National Environmental Scorecard. Sanders earned a 100 percent rating on 14 Senate votes, including one blocking an attempt to keep the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating power plant emissions of mercury pollution and a vote against legislation to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Read the National Environmental Scorecard

Nuclear Safety Sanders on Wednesday signed a letter with 11 other senators calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to enact safety upgrades recommended by its staff in the wake of a meltdown at a reactor in Fukushima, Japan after a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  Read the letter

Health Care Vermont is on track to become the first state to implement a single-payer health insurance system in 2017. “If we do it and do it well, other states will get in line and follow us,” Sanders told Vermont Life. “Sanders has been advocating a single-payer system since he was mayor of Burlington in the 1980’s," the magazine said. Read more