Week in Review

While there were significant and historic events which took place in the year gone by, it was also a year that saw the culmination of decades of economic policy which too often neglected the American working family in favor of the giant corporations and the very wealthy. This week, Sanders laid out his priorities for the new Congress in its work with a new administration. Sanders was also applauded by The Nation magazine as their "Most Valuable Senator" and by the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor

While there were significant and historic events which took place in the year gone by, it was also a year that saw the culmination of decades of economic policy which too often neglected the American working family in favor of the giant corporations and the very wealthy. This week, Sanders laid out his priorities for the new Congress in its work with a new administration. Sanders was also applauded by The Nation magazine as their "Most Valuable Senator" and by the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial page of the Rutland Herald which said "Now is the season of Sanders." There is a great deal of work to do in the coming year. As Sanders recently wrote, "Difficult times often bring out the best in people… I am confident that with new national leadership and renewed grass-roots activism we can effectively change the direction of our country and create the kind of nation that all of us know America can be."

The Year 2008 The year 2008 is one which saw a much-needed change in leadership in Washington but also an economic crisis felt in households across the country. Sen. Sanders spoke out about the economic crisis facing American families well before that crisis landed on Wall Street. He voted against the misguided bailout for Wall Street. He took a lead role in fighting for veterans' benefits, expansion of a highly effective and efficient community health program, and fighting for fair treatment and compensation for tomato pickers in Florida. Perhaps most significantly, Sanders succeeded in leading the fight for a doubling of funding for the hugely important home energy assistance program (aka LIHEAP). To read more, click here.

The Year 2009 The new Congress will reconvene on January 6, 2009. President-elect Barack Obama will be sworn in on January 20. "In my view, the next few months will be a pivotal moment in the history of the United States and for much of the world," said Sen. Bernie Sanders at a news conference Tuesday in Burlington. "How do we finally ensure the U.S. government begins representing the needs of ordinary Americans, and not just the greedy, the wealthy and the powerful?" he asked. Sanders called for a major economic recovery program which invests at least $400 billion in each of the next two years to create millions of good-paying jobs; an investigation as to how the greed and recklessness of Wall Street financiers caused the greatest financial collapse since the 1920s; and, legislation to provide health care to every man, woman and child as a right of citizenship. To read the senator's statement, click here.

Most Valuable Senator "When just about everyone else in the Capitol was absorbed with the presidential race last fall, the independent senator from Vermont recognized that the biggest story of 2008 was not the election - it was the collapse of the economic house of cards…" wrote The Nation magazine. The 143-year old progressive weekly named Sen. Bernie Sanders the "Most Valuable Senator" in its annual most valuable progressives list. "The Vermonter framed his challenge to the economic orthodoxy of Washington insiders who still do not "get it" in the right way: as part of a broader battle to defend the middle class. And Sanders never forgets the human side of the equation…" To read The Nation's article, click here. To read a related article by the Times Argus, click here.

Season of Sanders "Vermont's iconoclastic U.S. senator, who for decades has been a voice in the wilderness concerning the excesses of capitalism. Now the wilderness of economic collapse has surrounded all of us. At recent public forums, Sanders has been received by Vermonters like a rock star. Is there any doubt now about the outrageous abuses that have occurred because big money was allowed to have its way with the American public?" the Rutland Herald asked in an editorial. "Recent events have provided a textbook lesson in Bernie Sanders' politics, and Vermonters who have re-elected him consistently are grateful they have a voice in Washington willing to tell it like it is about the abuses now punishing the American people…Now the country has come to Sanders. He has been urging laws to hold banks and other institutions of capitalism accountable, to end corporate welfare and to enact tax policies fairer to ordinary Americans. That is likely to happen. He has been urging a system of health care for all, and we are heading in that direction." To read the editorial, click here. To watch a recent Sanders town meeting, click here.

Our Challenges "When Obama is sworn in as president, he will inherit problems more severe than at any time since the Great Depression. The middle class is continuing its steep decline with unemployment soaring...our financial system is in danger of collapsing…Our health care system is disintegrating…We are in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…[and] despite global warming, we have not broken our dependency on foreign oil," Sanders wrote in a recent op-ed. To read his article, click here. Please sign up for periodic updates from the senator, including his op-eds.

Above and Beyond On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it was directing $6 billion to auto-financing company GMAC. With that, the Treasury committed more funds to financial institutions then was authorized by Congress. The $700 billion Wall Street bailout program, which Sen. Sanders opposed, gave half the money to the Treasury and required them to come to Congress before it could use the second $350 billion. This commitment by the government beyond the initial authorization could constrain how the incoming Obama administration deploys the rest of the "TARP" funds. "They are pushing the envelope here. What they are trying to do is create a situation to put pressure on [President-elect Barack] Obama and the Congress to provide the next $350 billion," Sen. Bernie Sanders. To read The Wall Street Journal article, click here.

DTV Coupon Shortage A government-funded program to provide Americans with coupons to buy DTV converter boxes will likely run out of money too soon. "Given the fact that the government made the decision to make this transition it's really unfair to stick all of the burden on people who simply want to watch their TV," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. To read the WCAX report, click here.