News November 28

Senator Sanders

Citizens United A meeting in Montpelier on Tuesday will focus on how to curb corporate political spending. "History will record that the 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United was one of the worst and most destructive decisions ever cast by the Supreme Court," Sen. Sanders told the Vermont Press Bureau. "It's imperative that ... we minimize the damage and ultimately overturn it."  LINK

Irene "As Sen. Bernie Sanders has said more than once, we are the United States, underscoring the word ‘united'." the Rutland Herald and Times Argus noted in a Sunday editorial on Vermont's recovery after Tropical Storm Irene. "Disasters of great magnitude are too much for any individual or isolated region to deal with alone." LINK

Guard Solar Project Praised Sen. Sanders and the Vermont National Guard should be commended for building the largest solar energy installation at any military facility in New England, Lucy Gluck wrote in a letter to the editor of the Burlington Free Press. LINK

Middle Class Collapse The American middle class, the social rank millions have aspired to that provided muscle for the nation's emergence as a world power, is feeling squeezed, Bill Straub of the Evansville, Ind., Courier Press wrote in a column that quoted Sen. Sanders saying the middle class is disappearing. LINK

Heard on the Hill Republican operative Mary Matalin told Roll Call she believes in partisanship and the courage to stand behind fundamental beliefs. "[If Vermont Sen.] Bernard Sanders and [House Budget Chairman] Paul Ryan engaged in a Lincoln-Douglas debate, then I think that people would be enthused. They would be persuaded," she said. LINK

World

Global Warming With intensifying climate disasters and global economic turmoil as the backdrop, delegates from 194 nations will gather in Durban, South Africa, starting Monday to try to advance the world's response to dangerous climate change, The New York Times reported. LINK

Pakistan Tensions U.S. efforts to enlist Pakistani cooperation for peace talks with the Taliban were in limbo Sunday, as circumstances surrounding a NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers remained in dispute and Pakistan threatened to boycott an international conference on Afghanistan's future, The Washington Post reported. LINK

National

Payroll Tax The No. 2 Senate Republican, John Kyl, expressed concern Sunday about President Obama's proposal to continue a reduction in the Social Security payroll tax, The New York Times reported. A one-year extension would cost more than $110 billion. Senate Democrats want to offset the cost by increasing the tax on income over $1 million a year. LINK

Detainee Fight Goes to Senate A showdown begins Monday in the Senate over the handling of terrorism detainees, with the Obama administration pushing to scuttle a bipartisan proposal that would generally put detainees before a military tribunal. The proposal is part of Congress's annual spending bill for the Pentagon, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Retailers See Record Numbers Shoppers lured by deep discounts and early store openings sent sales over the four days starting on Thanksgiving soaring 16.7 percent over the same period a year ago to $52.4 billion, according to National Retail Federation statistics cited by The Washington Post. LINK 

Rx Drugs Medicare's prescription-medicine coverage gap will shrink about 40 percent, according to Medicare figures provided to The Associated Press. The average beneficiary would have spent $1,504 this year on prescriptions, but discounts and other provisions in the health care law bring the cost to $901. LINK

Vermont

Home Heating Upper Valley residents preparing for winter are coming to terms with some cold economic facts -- heating fuel and propane may be more expensive than any previous winter, with fuel oil prices nearing $4 a gallon, according to government forecasts, The Valley News reported on Sunday.

Health Care The long-awaited debate over how to pay for a government-run health care system begins this week with the first of four "listening sessions" hosted by the Shumlin administration, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

State Supreme Court Gov. Peter Shumlin plans to administer the oath to lawyer Beth Robinson in a ceremony at the Vermont Supreme Court today. Shumlin last month nominated Robinson to the seat on the five-member court being vacated by the retiring Associate Justice Denise Johnson, AP reported. LINK

Christmas Trees The U.S. Forest Service is offering the public Christmas trees from Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest for $5. The permits can be purchased at any of the Forest Service offices in the state. Trees cut on Forest Service land cannot be more than 20 feet tall, AP reported. LINK