News March 16

Senator Sanders

Vermont Yankee Sen. Bernie Sanders cited the nuclear emergency in Japan in asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to delay a new permit for Vermont Yankee, the Rutland Herald and Boston Globe reported. The NRC put a temporary hold on a 20-year license extension that the commission had cleared one day before the massive earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. LINK and LINK

Nuclear Safety Sen. Sanders called for a congressional investigation of nuclear safety in the United States, the Brattleboro Reformer, Burlington Free Press and WNYT-TV in Albany, N.Y., reported. In an ABC News interview, Sanders questioned plans to build more nuclear plants, citing the expense and lack of a place to store radioactive waste. LINK, LINK, LINK and VIDEO

 

Social Security A group of senators proposed requiring a two-thirds vote for any changes in Social Security. The measure's lead sponsor is Sen. Sanders, The Wall Street Journal, The Hill and ABC News online reported. "This country faces a lot of very serious crises," he said on NPR's All Things Considered.  "Social Security happens not to be one of them."  LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, VIDEO and AUDIO

Millionaires Surtax Sanders recently introduced legislation to raise taxes on Americans making more than $1 million, ABC News reported online. "You have the richest people in this country becoming wealthier, their effective tax rate is the lowest on record, and the solution to the deficit crisis is to throw kids off of Head Start ... That makes no sense."

Budget Poll Sixty-four percent of respondents to a Washington Post/ABC News poll said that deficit-cutting should comprise a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. A measure introduced last week by Sen.  Sanders would raise $50 billion in revenues by raising taxes 5.6 percent on millionaires, Raw Story noted. LINK

 

Budget Cuts Hurt Vermonters A Brattleboro Reformer editorial summarized how budget cuts sought by congressional Republicans would hurt Vermont. It mentioned Sanders' proposal for a surtax on millionaires. "We say more power to you, Bernie," the editorial concluded, but cautioned that the idea is unlikely to pass. LINK

Gas Prices A group of senators, including environment committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, urged President Obama to open the spigot on the strategic petroleum reserve and use half of the revenue to fund efforts to expand use of electric vehicles. The request is laid out in letter signed by Sen. Sanders, Washington Energy Week reported.

Child Care Workers Demonstrators rallied at the Statehouse for a House proposal to give Vermont's 10,000 child care workers collective bargaining rights. Sen. Sanders said Vermont child care workers should receive the same pay, benefits, and professional training opportunities as public school teachers, WPTZ reported. LINK and VIDEO

 

Income Inequality "There's something missing in the Washington political scene: a genuine populist, a prominent politician persistently pointing out a decades-long drift of income and wealth to a tiny fringe at the top," The Christian Science Monitor's David Francis wrote. Sanders, he added, "is probably the only major politician who regularly speaks on issues of economic inequality." LINK

Defense Pork "When it comes to defense, Republicans are the champions of big government and massive expenditure ... At the same time, many Democrats keep quiet for fear of looking weak on defense--unless, like Senator Bernie Sanders, they're from Vermont," according to a column in The Atlantic. LINK

International

 

Japan Radiation Emergency Worsens Japan's nuclear crisis intensified dramatically on Wednesday after the authorities announced that a second reactor unit at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan may have ruptured and appeared to be releasing radioactive steam, The Washington Post reported. LINK

 

Libyan Forces Rout Rebels Behind tanks, heavy artillery and airstrikes, forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi routed a ragtag army of insurgents and would-be revolutionaries who were holding the last defensive line before the rebel capital of Benghazi on Tuesday, The New York Times reported. LINK

 

National

 

House Passes Spending Bill The House gave grudging approval on Tuesday to a plan to finance the federal government for three more weeks, even as dozens of Republicans broke with their leadership and opposed the stopgap legislation, The New York Times reported. LINK

 

House Panel Votes to Limit E.P.A. Moving on a central tenet of the Republican energy and environment platform, a House committee on Tuesday approved a measure to halt the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, according to The New York Times. LINK

 

Senators Seek to Delay Debit Card Fee Changes A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill on Tuesday that would delay a new federal regulation to lower the swipe fees that banks could charge merchants for processing debit card transactions, The New York Times reported. LINK

Vermont

Manufacturer to Close Bennington Iron Works will close by May after 43 years in business due to declining sales and aggressive competition in Canada. Forty-five people will lose their jobs, WCAX-TV reported. LINK

 

Union Support About 70 people in Burlington rallied and marched Tuesday in a show of solidarity with Wisconsin's public-sector union workers - and to champion collective bargaining, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

Air Guard Returns from Korea A final 30 Vermont Air National Guard members are returning home from Korea this morning. WCAX-TV said their trip home was delayed by the tsunami. They are the last to return of the Air Guard members that served in Korea. LINK