News June 30

Senator Sanders


Health Centers Eight community health centers in Vermont will share $4.9 million in economic stimulus funds, The Associated Press and Times Argus reported. "What this money will do is help these centers expand their facilities, get new equipment, move more aggressively into information technology, and basically be better prepared to treat…over 100,000 Vermonters," Sen. Bernie Sanders told Vermont Public Radio. “Sanders has championed this federal program, working to bring new centers to Vermont and promoting their expansion nationally,” a Rutland Herald editorial noted.  LINK, LINK and LINK


Single Payer “The evidence is overwhelming that we must end the for-profit private insurance company domination of health care in our country and move toward a publicly-funded, single-payer Medicare for All system….The single-payer legislation which I’ve introduced in the Senate…will not likely be passed into law this year. The reason: the enormous power of the insurance and drug companies who, over the last 10 years, have spent hundreds of millions on lobbying and campaign contributions,” Sanders wrote in an op-ed posted online by Vermont Business magazine. LINK


Health Industry Fraud  “As a member of the Senate health committee…it has become apparent to me that real health care reform must address the billions of dollars in fraud and abuse that comes from the major corporations in the health care industry. What we have seen over the last several decades is the systemic fraud perpetrated by private insurance companies, private drug companies, and private for-profit hospitals ripping off the American people,” Sanders wrote in a Huffington Post column that drew more than 200 responses. “Someone gets it,” one said. LINK


Health Insurance Profits “The primary allegiance of U.S. private health insurers is to shareholders and their profits, not to policy-holder health care access. They guarantee profits by increasing premiums, co-pays and deductibles. Sen. Bernie Sanders observes that in 2006 the six largest insurance companies made $11 billion in profits even after paying direct health care, administrative and marketing costs,” Michele Swenson, a former nurse, wrote on The Huffington Post. LINK


Global Warming As the White House gears up for Senate debate on energy legislation, President Obama will need to watch his left flank, which includes environment committee Chairman Boxer, Vermont's Sanders and New Jersey Democrats Menendez and Lautenberg, Greenwire reported. Obama has been laying the groundwork for the climate debate by sending to Capitol Hill several of his top advisors. Also of note: one of Obama's top legislative affairs officials at the White House Council on Environmental Quality is Sanders' former environmental aide, Jessica Maher. LINK




U.S. Pulls Out From Iraqi Cities Iraq declared a public holiday Tuesday to celebrate the official withdrawal of American troops from the country’s cities and towns, emptying the streets as many people stayed home because they feared violence. As official Iraq celebrated, the American military announced the death of four soldiers on Monday from combat operations in Baghdad, a reminder of the continuing vulnerability of soldiers as they wrap up operations in the field, The New York Times reported. LINK


Honduras Coup President Obama on Monday strongly condemned the ouster of Honduras’s president as an illegal coup that set a “terrible precedent” for the region, as the country’s new government defied international calls to return the toppled president to power and clashed with thousands of protesters, The New York Times reported. LINK  




Health Care The Congressional Budget Office has told Sen. Tom Harkin, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, that it cannot score most preventive-care proposals as saving money, especially within the 10-year budget “window” Congress requires, Congressional Quarterly reported. LINK


Obama Steers Health Debate Out of Capital With Democrats deeply divided over health legislation, President Obama is trying to enlist the nation’s governors and his own army of grass-roots supporters in a bid to increase pressure on lawmakers without getting himself mired in the messy battle playing out on Capitol Hill, The New York Times reported. LINK


Climate Change Now that the House has narrowly passed a cap-and-trade bill, eyes are turning to the Senate, where Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer is hoping to mark up companion legislation shortly before the August recess. Given her party's comfortable majority on the panel, whose Democrats generally favor more ambitious global warming proposals, Boxer can pass virtually anything she wants in committee, according to Congress Daily. LINK


Bank Fees The ink has barely dried on credit card reform signed in May by President Obama, and already issuers are raising prices again, USA Today reported. In the latest round, Bank of America and Chase have increased, or are increasing, their maximum balance-transfer fees, from 3 percent to 4 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Chase is also expanding the definition of who could get hit with a penalty interest rate. Meanwhile, InfiBank is establishing a higher minimum APR on many cards. And Capital One and Citigroup continue to raise card rates for certain borrowers. LINK


Supreme Court Justices ruled on Monday that white firefighters in New Haven were subjected to race discrimination when the city threw out a promotional examination on which they had done well and black firefighters poorly, The New York Times reported. The 5-to-4 ruling, which reversed an appeals court decision joined by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, now a Supreme Court nominee, will have broad impact, lawyers specializing in employment discrimination law said. LINK


Max for Madoff Bernard Madoff, the self-confessed author of the biggest financial swindle in history, was sentenced to the maximum 150 years behind bars for what his judge called an "extraordinarily evil" fraud that shook the nation's faith in its financial and legal systems and took "a staggering toll" on rich and poor alike, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK




Welch: Climate Bill a Wiindfall for Vermont A major climate bill narrowly passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last Friday could be a windfall for energy-efficiency efforts in Vermont, the Vermont Press Bureau and Vermont Public Radio reported. The legislation, the first in the nation to set limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, appropriates up to $2 billion in federal funds for state-level efficiency initiatives, Rep. Peter Welch said Monday. LINK and LINK


Unemployment Fund Running Dry Vermont’s unemployment fund is expected to run out of money early next year and without changes would be $160,000 in the hole by the end of 2010, The Burlington Free Press reported. A state legislative study committee will have to unravel a snarl of competing interests that pit the needs of workers against the employers who pay into the fund. LINK


From Rents to Tents As the economy worsens, renters are leaving their apartments to live off the land for the summer, The Caledonian-Record reported. The practice of "cycling" in and out of apartments hurts children, families, landlords and communities, said Merten Bangemann-Johnson, CEO of Gilman Housing Trust, during a forum on housing in Barton. LINK


Rutland Health Survey Compared to the rest of the state, Rutland County is unhealthy, out of shape and has more than its fair share of bad habits, according to a new countywide health assessment published by the Rutland Herald. LINK