News October 23

Senator Sanders

Social Security The government tries to lift Social Security payments and veterans' benefits enough to cover cost of living increases, but tends to under-compensate. During the past year, for example, food rose 4.7 percent, gasoline 10.3 percent and health care 3.5 percent - all well above the 1.7 percent COLA that seniors and disabled vets will receive for 2013. Sen. Bernie Sanders has warned that benefits would lag behind the cost of living even more if a White House deficit commission plan is signed into law, according to Market Watch. LINK

F-35s The Air Force should work to mitigate jet engine noise if a new generation of fighter planes is based in Burlington, Sen. Sanders told the Burlington Free Press. He also shared concerns about cost overruns on the plane, but concluded that "as long as the F-35 is deployed anywhere, I believe we should strive to protect the Vermont Air National Guard's mission and maintain hundreds of jobs here in Vermont." LINK

Hill Bias Complaints Rise The Office of Compliance last week issued a report on a sharp increase in discrimination and other complaints in the legislative branch. The annual report quotes then Rep. Sanders in 1994 calling for congressional employees to be afforded the basic protections against discrimination, unsafe working conditions and unfair labor practices which are guaranteed to other American workers, according to The Washington Post. LINK

Citizens United Twenty-six senators including Sanders have signed on to a resolution which would amend the Constitution to give Congress the power "to regulate the raising and spending of money ... with respect to Federal elections, Reason.com reported. LINK

World

Leahy in Haiti with Clintons, Celebrities Bill and Hillary Clinton arrived in northern Haiti on Monday leading a delegation of foreign investors, celebrities and Sen. Patrick Leahy to showcase a U.S. effort to help the country recover from the 2010 earthquake. Sean Penn was there along with actor Ben Stiller and fashion designer Donna Karen, The Associated Press reported. LINK

National

Debate Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called for a firmer demonstration of American strength on the world stage, while President Barack Obama argued his opponent offered an inconsistent and reckless global vision, as the two candidates met Monday night in their third and final debate, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Vermont 

Health Care Some 10,000 middle-income Vermonters could see their health care costs spike when a new federal exchange goes into place in 2014. A group of advocates is urging the Legislature to create a special state subsidy program to make up the difference, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Health Care Vermont's governor and congressional delegation will be among those on hand for the grand opening of a new health co-op to offer health coverage in keeping with the 2010 federal health care law. The grand opening today in South Burlington is Vermont's answer to that provision in the federal law, AP reported. LINK

Gay Marriage Opponents of Maine's gay marriage referendum aired a TV ad featuring Vermont innkeepers sued for refusing to host a lesbian couple's wedding reception. Jim O'Reilly of the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville says he and his wife paid $30,000 to settle the lawsuit and can no longer host any weddings simply because they don't support gay marriage because of their religious beliefs, AP reported. LINK

Champlain College Champlain College plans to use a $10 million gift from the founder of Vermont's Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to improve business education at the school, officials said Monday. LINK

Death Watch Gov. Shumlin on Monday said Green Mountain College in Poultney should slaughter its two longtime working oxen. "They have good beef to offer and we ought to eat them," Shumlin told the Rutland Herald. "I support Green Mountain College. I support their decision to exercise death with dignity." LINK