While the presidential campaign grabbed headlines, there is a great deal of work left to do in Washington when Congress returns later this month. As the economy entered what some already are calling a recession, President Bush took off his rose-colored glasses for a moment to acknowledge "economic challenges." Senator Sanders wrote this week about a need for Senate leaders to aggressively stand up to Bush and fight obstruction tactics employed at almost every turn by his allies on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, Senator Sanders went to Africa to look into the exploitation of child labor on cocoa plantations. And the one-year anniversary of the "surge" in Iraq passed with still no plan to bring home our troops.
Recession? A report from Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs said what most Americans already believe from personal experience: a recession has begun. The economists cited a report that put the December jobless figure at 5 percent and sent shares tumbling worldwide. As the economy worsened, President Bush maintained a naively optimistic view of the nation's economy, a view probably shaded by his personal role in launching a needless, $12-billion-a-month war and his support of tax breaks for the richest of the rich. Now he has taken note of "economic challenges." Maybe he will help us address the challenges facing middle- and low-income workers across the country, but don't hold your breath. To read what Wall Street is saying about recession, click here.
Stand Up and Fight Last year - in a single year - there were more filibusters then ever before in any two-year period to protect the policies of George Bush, the least popular president in almost 60 years. It is time to fight. The Senate Democratic leadership must get aggressive. "If Republicans want to keep backing the president through obstructionism (they set a new record last year for filibusters), we should be prepared to keep the Senate open 24 hours a day, seven days a week," wrote Senator Sanders. To read Sanders' column on BuzzFlash, click here.
The Surge in Iraq One year ago, President Bush reacted to the message of the mid-term elections - a message which clearly called for a new direction in the war in Iraq - by sending more troops into harm's way. The day the surge was announced, Senator Sanders said, "Our troops should come home as soon as possible. It is time for Congress to use its constitutional and budgetary authority to make that happen." The president clearly moved us in the wrong direction, the opposite direction desired by voters. To read a Brattleboro Reformer editorial on the surge, click here.
Child Labor in Africa A delegation of lawmakers, including Sanders, visited cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast and Ghana to scrutinize possible child labor abuses. "The issue of child labor and the fact that you have very young kids who are working horrendous hours and not going to schools is an international problem," Sanders said prior to the trip. Pressure on the cocoa industry to certify their cocoa as child-labor free is mounting. To read more, click here.