The Senate on Wednesday voted to extend tax cuts for most working Americans but end Bush-era tax breaks for top earners. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday called out deficit hawk hypocrites who supported wars, the wealthy and Wall Street and now want to cut programs for working families like Social Security. Speaking of which, why isn't President Obama defending Social Security? That's a question Sanders raised in a Senate speech on Tuesday. "Have you heard him? I haven't heard him," Sanders said. "It causes me concern." On Tuesday, Sanders testified about his amendment to undo Citizens United. On Wednesday, he spoke at the International AIDS conference on a proposal to make medicine more affordable. And on Friday, he saluted Vermont athletes as the Summer Olympics opened in London.
Senate Votes to End Tax Breaks for Rich
"With a $16 trillion national debt and a $1 trillion deficit, we cannot continue to give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires," Sanders said after the 51-48 Senate vote on taxes. "This is a step forward in ending the Bush-era tax breaks for the rich and asking the wealthiest Americans, who are doing phenomenally well, to do their fair share to bring down deficits. I hope our Republican friends in the House can overcome their support for tax breaks for the wealthy and support this common-sense approach to cutting deficits." Read more
Deficit Hawk Hypocrites
Sanders took to the Senate floor on Thursday to spell out why big surpluses turned into bigger deficits. The United States launched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without paying for them, squandered surpluses by doling out tax breaks for the richest Americans and big corporations, and then saw the need for services increase while revenue fell during a horrible recession that was caused by misguided deregulation of Wall Street. Now, some of the same members of Congress who voted for wars, the wealthy and Wall Street say that because of the deficits that they created there must be cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Sanders wants to lower deficits, but not on the backs of the poor, the sick, the elderly, widows and orphans. In Thursday's speech, the senator called out the deficit hawk hypocrites. Watch it here and here.
Where is Obama on Social Security?
Sanders on Tuesday questioned why President Obama has not defended Social Security against Republican calls for deep cuts in the program that benefits some 55 million Americans. "I do not believe that we should cut Social Security," Sanders said in a Senate floor speech. "I would like to know, and I think the American people would like to know, if President Obama feels the same way. It is past time that the president told the American people in no uncertain terms that he will not cut Social Security on his watch."Watch the speech, Read more in The Hill
A Senate panel on Tuesday took testimony from Sanders and others on a constitutional amendment to undo a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that let corporations and wealthy individuals spend unlimited sums to sway American elections. Vermont and five other states have adopted resolutions asking Congress to overturn the Citizens United decision. At the Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Sanders revealed for the first time that just two dozen billionaire families have contributed a minimum of $250,000 each so far in this year's campaigns. "What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United is to say to these same billionaires and the corporations they control: ‘You own and control the economy. You own Wall Street. You own the coal companies. You own the oil companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your wealth, we're going to give you the opportunity to own the United States government.' That is the essence of what Citizens United is all about - and that's why it must be overturned," said Sanders. He introduced the Saving American Democracy Amendment in the Senate. A companion measure in the House is sponsored by Florida Rep. Ted Deutch. Watch Sanders' testify
Summer 2012 has broken thousands of heat records in the United States, where the worst drought in 50 years led the Department of Agriculture to declare disasters in more than 1,000 counties. When it does rain, strong summer thunderstorms are pumping water into the upper atmosphere and threatening the protective ozone layer over the United States, researchers said on Thursday. A study by Harvard scientists published online by the journal Science linked climate change and ozone loss over populated areas. Writing for The Nation, Mark Hertsgaard said President Obama "has remained shamefully silent on climate change." One way for citizens to get involved, according to the article, is to "implore your elected reps to support the End Polluter Welfare Act, sponsored in the House by Keith Ellison and in the Senate by Bernie Sanders, which seeks to end the $11 billion annual subsidy that taxpayers give the richest industry in history." Read more in The Nation
International AIDS Conference
In remarks to the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington on Wednesday, Sanders called for reforming laws designed to boost pharmaceutical industry profits that make HIV/AIDS medicine so expensive in the United States that many patients cannot afford treatment and die. He cited the example of the $25,000 a year drug Atripla. A generic, FDA-approved version of the same drug costs less than $200 per patient per year for a U.S. government program in developing countries. Sanders has introduced legislation that would establish a multi-billion-dollar prize fund to replace the current system of rewarding drug innovation with monopoly rights to new drugs.
Employee ownership increases employment, productivity, sales, and wages. Flanked at a press conference in Burlington, Vt., by representatives of successful worker-owned companies in Vermont, Sanders announced that he had introduced legislation that would expand employee ownership. Read more about the bills
As the Summer Olympics opened Friday in London, Sanders singled out three Vermonters representing the United States in the world's most prestigious athletic competition. As the Games unfold, watch Lea Davison in the mountain bike competition, Trevor Moore in sailing and Andrew Wheating in track. "Vermont is proud of Lea, Trevor and Andrew, and we wish them the best of luck at the 2012 Olympic Games," Sanders said in remarks entered in the Congressional Record.
The ranks of America's poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net, according to an Associated Press analysis of census figures for 2011.
The global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion hidden in secret tax havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study covered by the BBC.
The biggest U.S. banks created more than 10,000 subsidiaries in the past 22 years as they expanded, using legal structures to pay lower taxes and escape tighter regulation, according to a Federal Reserve study covered by Bloomberg News.
Three athletes from Vermont will compete in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Lea Davison is a mountain biker from Jericho, Trevor Moore is a sailor from North Promfret, and Andrew Wheating is a track star from Norwich.