News June 13

Senator Sanders


Health Care The Senate is seeking a path to the goal of universal coverage by protecting the least efficient model – the for-profit insurance industry that through waste, fraud, abuse and bureaucracy eats up 31 percent the cost of health care.  Senator Bernie Sanders, the sponsor of the single payer bill in the Senate, finally got his chance to speak at a health committee hearing on Thursday and railed against the waste of the health insurance model, criticized their massive profits and emphasized that health care was a human right, according to CounterPunch. LINK


Why God Invented C-SPAN A Time magazine blog linked to Sanders’ C-SPAN interview on health care. A reader commented: “What struck me was how candid and informed Senator Sanders is on all things health care. Another thing that struck me was that not a single Republican caller called in to attack Sanders…on ideological grounds. In fact, Republicans called in to discuss their own healthcare woes with the current system. It really was an amazing segment that sort of gave me hope that real reform can happen this year.” LINK


Oil Prices “It is logical that politicians like U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders want to halt commodity speculation… Sanders’ proposed disclosure requirements for floating depots are a step in the right direction,” the German edition of Financial Times editorialized. The Business Insider said “fears that oil traders are hoarding oil on tankers is moronic.” A McClatchy article calling Sen. Collins “one of the few…who blame the rising oil prices in part on Wall Street,” noted that Sandersgot assurances that the Obama administration would consider more regulation of commodities markets” LINK, LINK and LINK


White House Tours Either because of increased demand, fewer tours or both, the always-popular White House tour has become particularly tough to snag. Some congressional offices, which make the tour requests on behalf of constituents, say they've had few approved so far this year. Sen. Bernie Sanders has submitted about 500 tour requests and only one has been granted. The staff, though, was able to appeal to get tours for a Vermont National Guard member about to be deployed overseas and for a World War II veteran in town for his birthday, The Burlington Free Press reported. LINK




Ahmadinejad Is Declared Victor in Iran The Iranian government declared an outright election victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday morning, and riot police officers clamped down on a growing demonstration by supporters of the opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, who insisted that the election had been stolen, The New York Times reported from Tehran. LINK




Obama Addresses Paying for Health Care Reforms The White House said Saturday that President Obama intends to pay for his health care overhaul partly by cutting more than $200 billion in expected reimbursements to hospitals over the next decade — a proposal that is likely to provoke a backlash from cash-strapped medical institutions around the country, The New York Times reported. LINK


Will House Progs Vote Against Health Reform? The theory has been that Democrats need to worry about votes on their right flank, but California Rep. Lynn Woolsey, chair of the 80-member House Progressive Caucus, has been arguing the opposite: that Democrats need to worry about their left flank. The majority of her caucus, she says, will vote against a bill that doesn't include a robust public option. As ardent single-payer supporters, they feel they've compromised enough, Ezra Klien blogged for The Washington Post. LINK


Tobacco Bucks Among the 17 senators who voted against allowing the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco are some of the top recipients of campaign contributions from the tobacco industry, which has donated millions of dollars to lawmakers.  Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who hails from the tobacco-rich state of Kentucky, has received $419,025 from the tobacco industry, more than any other member of Congress. North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who led the opposition to the bill, is the second highest recipient and netted $359,100, McClatchy reported. LINK


Lender’s Role for Fed Makes Some Uneasy Since March, when the Federal Reserve stepped in to fill the lending vacuum left by banks and Wall Street firms, officials have been dragged into murky battles over the creditworthiness of narrow-bore industries like motor homes, rental cars, snowmobiles, recreational boats and farm equipment — far removed from the central bank’s expertise. A growing number of economists worry that the Fed’s new role poses risks to taxpayers and to the Fed itself, The New York Times reported. LINK




War Games Vermont Army National Guard helicopters are going to be more visible in the skies of northern Vermont this week.The Guard says the air ambulances will be flying over Swanton, Lyndonville, Montpelier and Middlebury through next week as part of training exercises through next Thursday. The helicopters and their crews will be training, rehearsing, and exercising their missions by simulating flying from forward operating bases like those used when they are deployed overseas, according to The Associated Press. LINK


Go Fish State officials are encouraging people to get out and enjoy Vermont state parks this weekend by offering free admission. To kick off the summer season, admission is free to any of the state parks, forests or historic sites from Sandbar State Park on Lake Champlain in Milton to President Calvin Coolidge's homestead in Plymouth and Mount Independence, a Revolutionary War site in Orwell. Fees normally range from $3 to $7.50 to the various sites. Fishing is also free on Saturday, when people can fish Vermont's rivers and lakes without a license, AP reported. LINK