News May 29

Senator Sanders


Financial Crisis Sen. Bernie Sanders told Vermont Pubic Television he called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday to discuss a new independent commission that will investigate the cause of the financial meltdown. Sanders said he urged the Senate leader to appoint “the strongest people he can…for a thorough investigation.”  Reid and House Speaker Pelosi will appoint six people to the 10-member panel.


Vermont Banks Asked on VPT’s “Report from Washington” about the nationwide financial and banking crisis, Sanders distinguished troubled Wall Street institutions from the experience of sound local banks. “You know how many Vermont banks are in trouble?” he asked. Zero,” he answered.


Town Meetings, Economy Sen. Bernie Sanders will hold a town meeting on the economy Sunday at the Bradford Senior Center. A free dinner will be followed by “the requisite populist outrage from Sanders,” according to columnist John Gregg at the Valley News. Town meeting will take place on Saturday at the Orleans Municipal Building and at Hazen Union High School in Hardwick, according to the Barton Chronicle. The senator also was interviewed this morning on WGMT Radio in Lyndonville about the weekend meetings. LINK and LINK


Town Meeting, Health Care On Monday evening in Burlington’s Unitarian Church, Sanders will bring together local health care providers and author T. R. Reid to discuss ideas for better, cheaper and fairer care, according to Seven Days. LINK


Health Care “We urge everyone concerned with health care access and affordability to attend a public forum, ‘Single-Payer in Vermont: How can we make it happen?’ on Tuesday, June 9. David Rosenberg of Middlebury will moderate a panel including Vermont State Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, Addison County Sen. Harold Giard, Dr. Deb Richter of Vermont Healthcare for All and David Reynolds, health care policy expert from Sen. Bernie Sanders' office,” Michael and Judy Olinick wrote to the Rutland Herald. LINK


Boxer In a discussion with Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," Sen. Barbara Boxer asserted that in California politics there is “a huge divide between Republicans and Democrats…[that] kind of mirrors the divide between Bernie Sanders in the United States Senate, who I would say is to my left, and going all the way to the right, I'll pick on Jim DeMint. The two of them just -- they really see the world very differently. And that's the divide we have in the California -- in California politics in the state level.”


Credit Cards “[D]espite the fact that the big banks survive on the taxpayers' dole, they had sufficient clout to turn back all efforts to put a lid on the interest rates. Sen. Bernie Sanders' amendment calling for a ceiling of 15 percent was routed,” Jesse Jackson wrote in a Chicago Sun-Times column. “It's time to stop playing politics and start paying attention. This economic crisis is getting worse for working families across the country.” LINK


Missing Milton “With each passing week that the assault against global capitalism continues in Washington, I become more nostalgic for one missing voice: Milton Friedman's… [T]he Bernie Sanders crowd has things exactly backward: Milton's ideas on capitalism and freedom did more to liberate humankind from poverty than the New Deal, Great Society and Obama economic stimulus plans stacked on top of each other,” asserted Stephen Moore in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. LINK




Gates: No More US troops in Korea While worrisome, North Korea's nuclear and missile tests have not reached a crisis level that would warrant additional U.S. troops in the region, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said. Gates, flying to Singapore to meet with Asian defense ministers, said he has not seen any moves by North Korea's military that would prompt the United States to add to the roughly 28,000 troops already in South Korea, according to AP. LINK


Mideast Peace Talks Deepening his involvement in the quest for a difficult peace, President Barack Obama is pushing a reluctant Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank while urging the Palestinians to be more accepting of their Israeli neighbors. "We can't continue with the drift, with the increased fear and resentment on both sides, the sense of hopelessness around the situation that we've seen for many years now," Obama said Thursday, according to The Associated Press. "We need to get this thing back on track." LINK




Kennedy's Health-Care Measure To Require Employers to Chip In Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is circulating the outlines of sweeping health-care legislation that would require every American to have insurance and would mandate that employers contribute to workers' coverage. Kennedy embraces a proposal to create a government-sponsored insurance program to compete directly with existing private insurance plans, according to one senior adviser who spoke with The Washington Post. LINK


U.S. Debt Soars Taxpayers are on the hook for an extra $55,000 a household to cover rising federal commitments made just in the past year for retirement benefits, the national debt and other government promises, a USA Today analysis shows. The 12 percent rise in red ink in 2008 stems from an explosion of federal borrowing during the recession, plus an aging population driving up the costs of Medicare and Social Security. That's the biggest leap in the long-term burden on taxpayers since a Medicare prescription drug benefit was added in 2003. LINK




Stimulus Vermonters need look no further than the nearest paving project to see federal economic stimulus dollars at work. The $2.5 million resurfacing of Vermont 15 in Colchester — that’s money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress in February.The $1.9 million reconstruction of the Richmond Bridge — ARRA. The soon-to-be completed paving of 16 miles of I-89 between Royalton and Bethel — that’s ARRA, too. Over the next two construction seasons, the state expects to spend $125 million in ARRA dollars on road and bridge work, The Burlington Free Press reported. LINK


State Budget Headed for a veto showdown over the state budget, Vermont legislative leaders announced plans Thursday to make a series of changes via a "companion bill" that will be voted on at a special session next week. The changes weren't enough to break a stalemate over the $4.5 billion spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1, though. Republican Gov. Jim Douglas, miffed that Democratic leaders of the Legislature briefed reporters about the bill before him, said he still plans to veto the budget, The Associated Press reported. LINK


Vermont Memorial Day A memorial to the Vermont National Guard members who died in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be open to the public this weekend in commemoration of Vermont's traditional Memorial Day. The sculpture at Camp Johnson in Colchester features a soldier kneeling in reflection at the boots, rifle and helmet of a fallen soldier. The Vermont National Guard Fallen Heroes Memorial will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, AP reported. LINK