News March 17

Senator Sanders

Vermont Yankee Sen. Bernie Sanders pressed NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko on how his agency could issue a new license for Vermont Yankee given the events in Japan, WCAX-TV reported. "What we want is a thoughtful response to the tragedy in Japan," Sanders said on Vermont Public Radio. LINK, LINK

Nuclear Power Japan's nuclear crisis raised questions about reactors in the United States with similar designs to the crippled Daiichi power plant, The Chicago Tribune, The Hill, MSNBC, WTEN-TV in Albany, N.Y. and Environment & Energy Daily reported. "The idea that we would have a plant of the same design, which in 20 years will be 60 years old, I think is a frightening thought," Sen. Sanders said at a congressional hearing. LINK and VIDEO

Chairman Sanders Sen. Sanders was appointed chairman of a Senate subcommittee on health and aging issues. The panel deals with issues that have been priorities for the first-term senator, including community health centers, home heating assistance, seniors programs, pensions and dental care, The Associated Press, Burlington Free Press and Fox 44 reported. LINK, LINK and VIDEO

Chairman Sanders "Vermont's champion for the working class has a new pulpit from which to proclaim his belief that average Americans have been bearing the brunt of the crashed economy ... Everyone in Congress should be as plain-spoken, upfront and honest as he is. The Reformer congratulates him on his appointment and encourages him to keep up the good work." LINK

Millionaire Tax A group of House Democrats, led by Rep. Janice Schakowsky, introduced legislation to impose sharply higher taxes on households earning more than $1 million. A similar bill by Sen. Sanders would impose a surtax on millionaires, the Bureau of National Affairs reported. LINK

Social Security Senate Majority Leader Reid disagreed with Bernie Sander call for a super-majority to make any changes to Social Security. "I love Bernie Sanders. He is a dear friend. He is a man who believes in taking care of the poor and the needy. But I don`t think we need a two-thirds vote," Reid told MSNBC. VIDEO

Social Security Sen. Tom Coburn, who was on a White House commission that recommended raising the retirement age and cutting benefits to the wealthy, was on the Senate floor Wednesday to respond to a proposal by Sen. Sanders, who wants to shield Social Security from any deficit reduction plans, The Oklahoman reported. LINK

Social Security An NPR report "stacked the deck against those who believe that Social Security is fine for the moment," according to the Columbia Journalism Review. After interviewing five Republicans, the piece broadcast on All Things Considered briefly quoted two Democrats and Sen. Sanders saying there is not a Social Security crisis. LINK

Budget Standoff Sanders rejects budget cuts in social welfare programs and education."We do have to address the deficit crisis. But we have to address it in a way that is fair and responsible," said Sanders, according to Voice of America. LINK

Transparency Sen. Sanders wrote in a Caledonian-Record column about his efforts to expose fraudulent contractors and the inner workings of the Federal Reserve. LINK

International

U.S. Calls Radiation ‘Extremely High;' Sees Japan Nuclear Crisis Worsening The chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave a far bleaker appraisal on Wednesday of the threat posed by Japan's nuclear crisis than the Japanese government had offered, The New York Times reported. LINK

 

National

 

GOP Begins Rollback of Wall St. Reform House Republicans quietly took their first legislative step Wednesday at repealing Wall Street reform, exposing the difficulty of rolling back a major Barack Obama law that isn't health care, Politico reported. LINK

 

Critics Press Obama on Crises President Barack Obama is hearing from a growing set of critics, many of them Republican leaders, who complain he is taking a hands-off approach to the spending debate in Congress and keeping a low profile on the turmoil in Libya and Bahrain, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Vermont

Malpractice Reform State lawmakers may ask the Shumlin administration to consider changes to the state's medical malpractice system with an eye to lowering health care costs. The study would address the cost of defensive medicine, and find ways to lower costs while protecting patients, AP reported. LINK

Health Care for State Workers Amid the debate over health reform in Vermont, some are wondering if a single-payer system would reduce the ability of unionized public employees to negotiate for health benefits. Single-payer advocates say workers could still negotiate for coverage not included in the basic plan, AP reported.