News July 2


Senator Sanders

 Afghanistan U.S. Marines began fanning out across the southern Helmand River valley Thursday, traveling by foot and armored convoys under the scorching summer sun in an effort to wrest control of the area from Taliban insurgents. “It is appropriate the United States do everything it can to stop the Taliban,” Sen. Sanders told a Burlington press conference on Wednesday. “My concern is I don't want to see us get involved in a war without an exit strategy.” Sanders said President Obama has not outlined clear goals for U.S. troops to accomplish. VIDEO

 

Health Care With the addition of Al Franken of Minnesota, Senate Democrats are about to reach the magical threshold of 60 votes, allowing them in theory to sweep aside Republican delaying tactics ''The American people are going to say, 'Look, we have given you the authority to make changes on health care, go ahead and do it,' '' Sen. Sanders told The New York Times. ''No more excuses.'' On MSNBC’s “Countdown” and on WCAX, Sanders called for Democrats to agree to join together to overcome Republican roadblocks to consideration of any health care bill. LINK, VIDEO and VIDEO

 

White House on Sanders MSNBC’s Ed Schultz asked Obama spokesperson Linda Douglas, “Will the White House take a position and support Senator Bernie Sanders, who is calling for cloture to stop a filibuster and get an up or down vote because the American people want it?” Said Douglas, “Well, you`re talking about -- you`re talking situations that are potentially far into the future. This is a hypothetical.” VIDEO

 

Who’s in Charge Here? Sen. Bernie Sanders faulted the strategy of Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus on efforts to craft a health care compromise with Repubicans, telling The Huffington Post that “the idea of going to conservative Republicans, who are essentially representing the insurance companies and the drug companies…is a very wrong political strategy." Daily Kos blogged that “Bernie Sanders gets it; does Harry Reid?” At The New Republic, blogger Jonathan Cohn was “pleased to see Sanders calling out his fellow Democrats for their weak posturing.” LINK, LINK and LINK

 

The Franken Factor “Just because 60 people put their feet under Harry Reid's table at the weekly Democratic policy luncheon does not guarantee him that many votes on the floor. Even if Sanders and Lieberman prove relatively reliable, you cannot say the same for all the official Democrats,” according to NPR. LINK

 

Labor Divided It’s no secret that the union movement is divided on health care reform. Resolutions favoring “Medicare for All,” a single-payer system, have been passed by 558 unions, central labor councils, state federations, and other union organizations. Yet in practice leaders of many of those same unions have acted as if actual single-payer legislation (Representative John Conyer’s HR 676 and Senator Bernie Sanders’ S703) didn’t exist, Labor Notes reported. LINK

 

Consumer Protection Senator Sanders says the Wall Street meltdown makes it clear there's a need for a new federal agency to stop banks and other lenders from "ripping off the American people.” Sanders “issued a stinging attack on unscrupulous lenders who often target Americans who don't understand the fine print,” WPTZ reported. In Burlington, he called for a new Financial Product Safety Commission to protect consumers, Vermont Business Magazine reported online. LINK and VIDEO

 

The Great Recession A bipartisan congressional panel armed with subpoena power to investigate causes of the Wall Street meltdown is about to be formed. The 10-member Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is modeled after the Pecora Commission, a Senate panel that investigated the causes of the 1929 crash. “For months, Sen. Sanders has called for a Pecora-style investigation that would name names, ask tough questions and seek remedies. Finally, Sanders is being heeded,” the Brattleboro Reformer editorialized. LINK

 

Financial Literacy Sanders secured a $130,000 grant for Vermont credit unions to teach high school students financial literacy, WCAX, WPTZ, Fox 44 and The Burlington Free Press reported. The Association of Vermont Credit Unions received $130,000 in federal funding to work with local business leaders, educators and volunteers to teach students the importance of financial literacy. It includes balancing a checkbook, saving money, qualifying for a mortgage and use of credit cards. LINK, LINK, VIDEO and VIDEO  

 

Dental Clinic Sen. Sanders announced Wednesday that $95,351 is coming to Rutland to expand a federally funded dental clinic. "The lack of dental care in this country is a huge problem," Sanders told the Rutland Herald. He also discussed the recent release of almost $5 million to help the eight community health centers in Vermont. LINK

 

Rockingham Recreation Facing an increasingly difficult challenge in fundraising and chasing down grants, a committee working on Rockingham's recreation area that had hoped to raise up to $4 million has now decided to reline the existing pool and reduce the scope of the project. The Brattleboro Reformer said the committee got a big boost in March when Sen. Sanders secured a $380,000 grant for the project, but raising money from residents and businesses has been somewhat slow. LINK

Public Citizen Tyson Slocum earned a reputation around Washington as the go-to guy on energy for the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. After years as a self-described "lone voice in the wilderness,” Slocum finds himself now on the inside. He has been working on toughening commodity regulations with staffers for Sens. Maria Cantwell and Bernie Sanders, according to a The New York Times online profile. LINK

Movin’ on Up Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane O’Meara Sanders have moved across North Avenue to a place on Van Patten Parkway, Seven Days noted. LINK

International

 

U.S. Soldier Captured in Afghanistan Marine commanders reported only modest resistance from insurgent fighters as troops poured out of helicopters in the early morning and began conducting patrols. Some units encountered light small-arms fire, and one Marine company was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades after it discovered a cache of homemade explosives in a housing compound, The Washington Post reported. Meanwhile, insurgents captured an American soldier in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Thursday, AP reported. LINK and LINK

 

National

 

Worst Unemployment in 25 Years U.S. payrolls tumbled by an unexpectedly large amount last month on widespread declines across manufacturing, construction and professional services, a grim reminder that the path to economic recovery will be bumpy. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, continued to creep toward double digits, rising to its highest level in over 25 years, The Wall Street Journal reported. The unemployment rate increased 0.1 percentage point to 9.5 percent, the highest level since August 1983. LINK

 

Rich Get Richer Business is back on Wall Street. If the good times continue to roll, lofty pay packages may be set for a comeback as well. Based on analysts' earnings forecasts for 2009, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is on track to pay out as much as $20 billion this year, or about $700,000 per employee. That would be nearly double the firm's $363,000 average last year, and slightly higher than the $661,000 for the average Goldman employee in fiscal 2007, according to analyst estimates reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. LINK

 

Vermont

 

Defense Contract A Bennington company will supply armor for more than a billion dollars worth of new military vehicles destined for Afghanistan, bringing new jobs to the area and an influx of money to local companies. The U.S. Department of Defense awarded a $1.05 billion contract Tuesday to Oshkosh Corp., which has partnered with Plasan North America in Bennington, to complete an order of 2,244 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicles, the Bennington Banner reported. LINK

 

Vermont Census Vermont's overall population rose slightly but the population in southern counties continues to dwindle, according to estimates released Wednesday by the U.S. Census. As of 2008, Vermont had 621,270 people, up less than 0.1 percent from a year earlier. Chittenden County's population increased slightly, in part because of in-migration from foreign countries. The number of births exceeded deaths in most of Vermont, though the opposite was true in Bennington, Essex, Rutland and Windsor counties, The Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

 

Obesity A new report shows that Vermont weighs in as one of the nation's healthiest states. The state ranks 46th in the country for the number of obese adults, according to an annual report released by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. About 22 percent of Vermont adults are obese. The obesity rate in Vermont increased slightly for the second year in a row, AP reported. LINK

 

Flanagan Running for Lt. Gov. State Sen. Edward Flanagan is running for lieutenant governor. The Chittenden County Democrat says his experience in the executive branch as auditor for eight years and five years in the Senate makes him well-equipped for the job, according to AP. LINK

 

Waterfront Festival The city of Burlington is throwing itself a 400th birthday party of major proportions starting today with the opening of the $1.8 million, 13-day celebration that commemorates the arrival in 1609 of Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer who was the first European to explore the lake and its shores, The Burlington Free Press reported. LINK