The Week in Review

The Week in Review

Internet traffic would be divided into fast and slow lanes under a proposal that surfaced Wednesday at the Federal Communications Commission. Sen. Bernie Sanders called it a “terribly misguided” idea that would suppress the free flow of information. Earth Day on Tuesday served as a sad reminder that Republicans in Congress have blocked legislation to deal with global warming, including Sanders’ bills to tax greenhouse gas emissions. The Koch brothers have tapped their $80 billion oil industry fortune to prop up candidates who stood in the way of environmental legislation. But anti-environmentalism is just one element of a right-wing agenda of the Koch brothers and their puppets. Sanders laid it all out in an MSNBC interview on Wednesday. At home in Vermont for Congress’ Easter recess, Sanders on Thursday shined a spotlight on the state’s network of community health centers. On Wednesday, he congratulated Vermont lawmakers for passing a bill to make the Green Mountain State the first in the nation to require labels on food that includes genetically modified ingredients. 

The End of the Internet The Federal Communications Commission is considering a proposal to let Internet service providers pay for faster service. The proposal is a blow to proponents of net neutrality – the idea that Internet providers must treat all web traffic equally. The proposal would stifle the free flow of information, lead to higher prices for consumers and discourage technological innovation. “Under this terribly misguided proposal, the Internet as we have come to know it would cease to exist and the average American would be the big loser. We must not let private corporations turn bigger and bigger profits by putting a price tag on the free flow of ideas,” Sanders said.  “Our free and open Internet has made invaluable contributions to democracy both here in the United States and around the world. Whether you are rich, poor, young or old, the Internet allows all people to seek out information and communicate globally. We must not turn over our democracy to the highest bidder.”

Earth Day This year’s 44th annual Earth Day observance on Tuesday fell nine days after a United Nations panel issued a report warning that greenhouse emissions are rising faster than ever. Earth Day was 1,379 days since the last time  a Republican in Congress event mentioned Earth Day in the Congressional Record, according to National Journal, and 1,894 days, by Huffington Post’s count, since Congress passed the last major environmental legislation in 2009. Bernie is the chief sponsor of a bill to tax carbon and methane emissions. He also has proposed legislation to end subsidies for oil and gas companies. Both bills have faced fierce opposition by Republicans who have made the environment a partisan issue. “Not only does the Republican Party oppose efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but most of its members also reject the science describing the reality of climate change,” Bernie wrote in a letter to the editor of The New York Times.

The Koch Brothers and their Puppets The Koch brothers make up the second wealthiest family in America worth at least $80 billion. For decades, they operated mostly in the shadows of American public life while pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into front groups promoting what Sanders has called the “billionaire agenda.” It is not well known, but David Koch was the 1980 Libertarian Party candidate for vice president and helped fund that party. He campaigned on a platform that called for ending all limitations on campaign spending, abolishing taxes on the wealthy and profitable corporations, shutting down Medicare and Medicaid, repealing Social Security, terminating the Postal Service and doing away with the minimum wage. “They want to repeal every major piece of legislation over the past 80 years that protects the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable in our country,” Sanders said. Watch MSNBC

The Middle Class is Growing – in Canada Canada has overtaken the United States as the country with the strongest middle class, according to a New York Times study. Since the recession, almost all of the economic growth in the U.S. has gone to a few people with the biggest incomes. “Most Americans understand that there is something profoundly wrong with our economy today when 95 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent,” Sanders said. A 685-page book by French economist Thomas Picketty on income inequality became the No. 1 best seller on Amazon. That fact, Sanders said, “tells people in Washington that this is an issue of enormous consequence. Americans are profoundly disgusted with this kind of wealth and income inequality.” Read more

Health Care Sanders and the senior Obama administration official responsible for improving access to health care met in Burlington on Wednesday with representatives from 11 community health centers throughout Vermont. Mary Wakefield, who heads the Health Resources and Services Administration at the Department of Health and Human Services, joined Sanders at a news conference to discuss what the senator has called a crisis in primary care in the United States. “We have made some good progress in Vermont and across the nation in the last few years but clearly we still have a long way to go,” Sanders said.

GMO Food Labels The Vermont House on Wednesday passed and sent to the governor a bill that will make Vermont the first state in the nation to require labels on food containing genetically-modified ingredients. “I am very proud our small state stood up to Monsanto and other multi-national food conglomerates and is taking the lead in a movement to allow the people of our country to know what is in the food that they eat,” Sanders said. He said he would continue to press for federal action on food labels. He sponsored legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to report to Congress within two years on the percentage of food and beverages in the United States that contain genetically engineered ingredients. Read more