News June 9

Senator Sanders


Health Care Op-Ed “Our current private health insurance system is the most costly, wasteful, complicated and bureaucratic in the world. Its function is not to provide quality health care for all, but to make huge profits for those who own the companies,” Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote on The Huffington Post. “But, at the end of the day, as difficult as it may be, the fight for a national health care program will prevail.” LINK


Rising Fuel Prices The Vermont Fuel Dealers Association is calling for a congressional investigation to determine why gas prices have increased dramatically in the past five months.  Sen. Bernie Sanders has formally asked for a thorough investigation of this issue.  "There is a record level of crude oil inventory in the United States record level so we have plenty of supply and because of the recession we're at a ten year low in terms of demand so what economics 101 tell us is when you have a lot of supply and less demand prices should go down but in fact prices right now are soaring,” Sanders tells Vermont Public Radio. LINK


Defense Contractors A House panel will hold hearings on June 18 to examine whether AIG and other major insurance carriers inappropriately denied medical claims of contractors injured on the job in Iraq and Afghanistan. The committee will be joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had previously planned to hold hearings in the Senate but decided instead to join Kucinich's panel. The move was prompted by the Senate health and labor committee's heavy schedule of health care reform hearings this summer, ProPublica reported. LINK


For-Profit Insurance “Our system is geared toward making money for the private health insurance companies. The function of a private health insurance company is not to provide quality health care for the most people in a cost-effective way; it is to make as much money as they possibly can... The bottom line is we (have) the most expensive, bureaucratic, and wasteful system in the world because we are spending billions of dollars in administration, in profiteering for insurance companies,” Sen. Sanders said on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. LINK


Senate Progressives The Senate “desperately needs more progressives with tracks record of opposing the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, misguided trade policies and the corporatist policies that infect the Democratic party almost as thoroughly as they do the Republicans,” according to John Nichols of The Nation.  He laments the decision by Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois against running for Senate where she could have joined Sen. Bernie Sanders and only a handful of others as strong progressive voices. LINK


Voices of Reason “The public option is good for consumers, good for health care providers, and it would be good for business, because everything drops to the bottom line of the books. It gets right to the bottom of cutting all the costs.  Now, it`s not just Republicans. Democratic senators get a little bit weak in the knees on this.  Senator Kennedy is the only one out there, along with Bernie Sanders, who are really fighting against the lobbyists and fighting for the consumers. As I see it, too many Democrats are quiet on this,” said Ed Shultz on MSNBC.  LINK




Seoul Sanctions N. Korea South Korea imposed its first financial sanctions on North Korean companies, officials said Tuesday, taking a symbolic action that could anger the Communist regime while bolstering a joint front with the United States as the allies seek to punish the North for its recent nuclear test.  North Korea continued its harsh rhetoric on Tuesday when the government-run newspaper, Minju Joson, warned that the regime can use its nuclear program not only for defense but also as “a merciless offensive means,” according to The New York Times. LINK


Gitmo Detainee Arrives in NYC The first Guantanamo detainee who is to be tried in a US civilian court has arrived in New York, officials say.  Ahmed Ghailani has been transferred to face charges in a New York court in connection with the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa.  Mr Ghailani, a Tanzanian, was seized in Pakistan in 2004. He is expected to make an initial court appearance in Manhattan later on Tuesday. He was taken to Guantanamo with other "high value" detainees in late 2006, according to the BBC. LINK




Chrysler Bankruptcy On Hold Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg yesterday delayed Chrysler's sale of most of its assets to a group led by Italy's Fiat, but didn't say how long the deal would remain on hold.  Chrysler L.L.C. has said the sale must close by June 15, or Fiat Group SpA has the option to walk away, leaving the Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker with little option but to liquidate, according to The Associated Press. LINK


Obama Backs Off Regulatory Overhaul The Obama administration is backing away from seeking a major reduction in the number of agencies overseeing financial markets, people familiar with the matter tell The Wall Street Journal, suggesting that the current alphabet-soup of regulators will remain mostly intact.  Administration officials had suggested they might push for major regulatory consolidation in the wake of the financial crisis. But now they expect to call for most existing agencies to have broader powers to limit risk-taking by financial institutions, say the people familiar with the planning. 


Foreclosures Increase for Prime Mortgages The pace of prime borrowers going into foreclosure is accelerating, especially in states with mounting unemployment or property values that saw a big run-up during the housing boom.  It's a marked shift from earlier this year, when foreclosures were driven by defaults on subprime loans. And it has major implications — ravaging the credit scores of borrowers who once had unblemished records and dragging down property values in more affluent neighborhoods, reports USA Today. LINK




Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell The Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear a legal challenge to the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Without comment, the nation's highest court rejected an appeal from former Army Capt. James Pietrangelo II, who was in the Vermont National Guard when he was discharged in 2004. During last year's campaign, President Barack Obama indicated that he supported eventually repealing the law, but he has made no move to do so, The Associated Press reported. LINK


Estate Tax As Vermont lawmakers were stretching the last nickels and dimes to pull together the 2010 state budget, a $13 million windfall blew through the door. That’s how much the state received in estate tax from one person’s estate last month. Tax Commissioner Tom Pelham said he is precluded by law from identifying the estate’s owner. Somewhere in Vermont, someone died last year who was worth something on the order of $80 million to $100 million, according to The Burlington Free Press. LINK


Passport Office Vermont is going to get its own passport office thanks to an effort by the State Department to improve access to passport services. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy says Vermont is one of five locations across the country that will get new offices of the Passport Agency. The others are Buffalo, N.Y., El Paso, Texas, Atlanta and San Diego. Leahy says $15 million for the new offices was included in the federal stimulus package, which was enacted earlier this year to help jump-start the economy, The Associated Press reported. LINK


Swine Flu Kindergarten classes have been canceled for the year in Williston because of concerns about the swine flu. The Burlington Free Press is reporting that three of the five confirmed cases of the virus in Williston were in kindergarten students at the Allen Brook School. According to a letter sent to parents on Monday, four other kindergarten students have had flu-like illnesses and recovered and another four are currently out sick. So far 14 people in Vermont have been infected with the virus. LINK