The Week in Review
“He is not intimidated by well-dressed people with, you know, $2-, $3,000 suits. That’s not Bernie. And that’s not us either,” Randy Meade, a dairy farmer in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, explained to NPR’s Ailsa Chang. Her report about Vermonters’ views on Sen. Bernie Sanders aired Thursday on “Morning Edition.” That evening, Sanders was on Vermont PBS’ “Report from Washington.” He took questions for an hour on topics ranging from how Republicans have put thousands of road construction jobs in jeopardy to his meeting on Tuesday with Robert McDonald, President Barack Obama’s pick to head the VA.
The Insanity House and Senate tax-writing committees on Thursday drafted competing plans to shift funds into the nearly broke Highway Trust Fund. Both plans rely on stopgap accounting tricks. Both fail to keep the trust fund solvent over the long run. “It’s insanity. It really drives me nuts,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said on Thursday on Vermont PBS. “We need to fix our infrastructure and create jobs. If you do not invest, it ain’t going to get better.” Instead, the competing stopgap deals would provide money to fund road, bridge and railroad repair projects through next May. At the very least, this will prevent an immediate shutdown of tens of thousands of projects all over the country, and save some 700,000 jobs. But it doesn’t come close to meeting the need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, and create millions of new jobs that our economy needs. Watch Vermont PBS
VA Reform Sanders said on Wednesday that he will set a confirmation hearing soon on the president’s nomination of Robert McDonald to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sanders and McDonald met for about one hour on Tuesday. Sanders also announced on Wednesday that the committee will hold a hearing next week to hear from the acting VA secretary, Sloan Gibson, about steps the VA has taken to provide health care to those on long waiting lists and to improve accountability and transparency.
Minimum Wage Hikes Boost Economy “We need to raise the minimum wage to put real dollars in the hands of working people and help the overall economy,” Sanders said on Monday on MSNBC. He was commenting on a new Center for Economic and Policy Research study that showed more job growth in states where minimum wages went up this year than in other states. The research totally contradicted Republican claims that higher wages lead to fewer jobs. “My state of Vermont raised the minimum wage to $8.73 an hour. We are on our way to raise it to $10.50 in the next four years. Guess what? We have the second lowest unemployment in the United States. So I think this Republican line is mythology.” Bernie is a co-sponsor of Senate legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Watch MSNBC
Why We Need a Carbon Tax “A carbon tax must be a central part of our strategy for dramatically reducing carbon pollution,” Sanders wrote in a column posted Wednesday on The Huffington Post. “The fossil fuel industry for too long has shifted these enormous costs of carbon pollution onto the public, walking away with billions in profits while their emissions help destroy the planet. The top five oil and gas companies alone made over $1 trillion in the past decade. That's over $250 million per day. The fossil fuel industry is destroying the planet with impunity and getting rich while doing it. That must end,” he wrote. Read the column