News Dec. 23

Senator Sanders


Health Care Senate Democrats are ready to push a health care overhaul past one last 60-vote hurdle to final Christmas Eve passage. Sen. Sanders succeeded in securing $10 billion for community health centers in the bill. "What that means is that over a five-year period, we would see the number of people who use community health centers nationally go from 20 million people to 45 million," he told the Bennington Banner. LINK

Health Centers Republicans are quick to fault parts of the bill as wasteful spending. The latest target was Sen. Sanders' amendment to expand community health centers in all 50 states. Sanders says it will provide needed healthcare so some 25 million Americans. "We're going to produce 20,000 more primary care physicians, dentists and nurses. And because we will be keeping people out of the ER we'll actually be saving taxpayers dollar. If that's pork we need more of it," Sanders said on WCAX. VIDEO


The Giddy Dr. Reynolds Tales of crankiness abound on Capitol Hill as Christmas Eve approaches and the Senate remains in session, but David Reynolds was practically giddy with good cheer when reached by telephone. That's because the Senate appears to be on the verge of voting to approve a dramatic expansion of community health centers - which could bring badly needed health services to thousands of medically underserved communities, Congressional Quarterly reported.


Medicaid Opponents of the health reform bill have decried the additional Medicaid funding for Vermont as "bribes" to secure votes to break a Republican filibuster. "This is not some terrible thing that we're doing. It's simply not penalizing Vermont because we were ambitious," Sanders told the Bennington Banner. LINK

Insurance Sen. Sanders said insurance companies will make out like bandits with this bill, and he's actually supporting it," ABC News reported on World News Tonight. But Jonathan Karl added that insurance companies will fight to defeat it. On MSNCBC, Ed Schultz said "[T]he biggest winners of all -- and Bernie Sanders said it on this show last night -- the insurance companies. "Bernie is overstating what is going on," Sen. Boxer told Morning Joe on MSNBC. VIDEO and VIDEO

Kennedy in the Cloakroom Chris Matthews reported on MSNBC that Republican leadership is trolling for a Democrat who will obstruct the health care reform bill in the Senate. Have you heard that story? he asked Sen. Sanders. "Yes, but they ain`t going to find it. In fact, in the Democratic cloakroom, there is a photograph of Kennedy saying, "Let`s get it done." VIDEO

Single Payer "Sanders has history on his side," The Capital Times in Madison, Wis., editorialized today on his push for a single-payer system. "Real reform is not coming this year or next. But it must come. And when it does, it should be remembered that Bernie Sanders tried to get the Senate to do the right thing." LINK

Left Bloggers Against Reform Sen. Sanders, who will support the Senate bill, is under new pressure from some Vermonters to change his vote, the Vermont Press Bureau reported. John Odum, the Green Mountain Daily blogger, teamed up Tuesday with the national liberal blog Firedoglake to pressure Sanders to vote against what they call a "dangerous health care bill." LINK

Left Bloggers for Reform "I'm with Harkin and Sanders. This bill helps tens of millions of people. It moves us down the road to a genuine and legitimate public health infrastructure," Joan Walsh wrote for Salon. "As a Sanders-style democratic socialist I happen to be farther to the left than most on my side. But we live in the real world. Care to join us?" P.M. Carpenter blogged at BuzzFlashLINK and LINK

Health Care Forever "Buried in [the] massive amendment to the Senate [bill] an anti-democratic poison pill designed to prevent any future Congress from repealing the central feature of this monstrous legislation. Reid wanted to keep his...poison pill secret for as long as possible, just as he negotiated his bribes for the votes of Sen...Sanders behind closed doors," The San Francisco Examiner editorialized. LINK

Health Care Criticism "Cries that a given level of political corruption threatens to tear the fabric of the union are often overwrought. This time, maybe not," the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorialized, citing Sanders' $10 billion of health centers. LINK

The Fed U.S. senators are backing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke for a second term by a 3-to-1 margin, based on a count of 77 lawmakers by Bloomberg News. Democrats support Bernanke by a 26-1 margin. Republicans are split 11-10 in the Fed chief's favor. Sen. Sanders previously announced his opposition to Bernanke, saying he would try to block the nomination. LINK



NATO Chief Promises to Stand by Afghanistan The secretary general of NATO sought Tuesday to address fears that international forces would leave Afghanistan too soon, saying that the 43 nations in Afghanistan would stand by the country until it was ready to stand on its own, The New York Times reported. LINK


Parties Stay United as Health Bill Clears Steps in Senate The Senate voted 60 to 39 early Tuesday on three steps leading up to a final vote Thursday morning on sweeping health care legislation, The New York Times reported. LINK

AIG Lied About Bonuses When word spread earlier this year that American International Group had paid more than $165 million in retention bonuses at the division that had precipitated the company's downfall, outrage erupted. AIG Financial Products executives agreed to return about $45 million in bonuses by the end of the year. But a majority of that money remains unpaid, The Washington Post reported. LINK


Guard Home for Holidays Eleven chartered buses carrying the Vermont National Guard soldiers left Tuesday from Camp Atterbury, Ind., and will arrive in Essex Junction and Bennington on Wednesday. Guard officials say nine of them will arrive at Champlain Valley Exposition and the other two will go to the Bennington Armory, The Associated Press reported.

Vt. Yankee Spin Off The owners of Vermont Yankee say they might shut the plant down in 2012, if Vermont doesn't approve of a new spin-off corporation that would own the reactor.  Legislative leaders say they remain strongly opposed to the spin-off, according to Vermont Public Radio. LINK

Second State Legislator Dies Rep. Rick Hube, R-Londonderry, who has served 10 years in the Legislature, died Monday while visiting his sister in Florida for the Christmas holiday.  Hube's death came a day after that of Rep. Ira Trombley, D-Grand Isle, reported The Burlington Free Press. LINK

Public Access Settlement Like other public access providers, the Regional Education Television Network gets funding from Comcast to run its educational service. But last January Comcast accused the Chittenden County non-profit with financial mismanagement.  RETN agreed to a financial audit - which turned up no serious problems. So the two sides mutually agreed to dismiss the case, according to Vermont Public Radio. LINK