There was a firestorm on Tuesday when a videotape was released in which Mitt Romney displayed disdain for nearly half of all Americans who he said see themselves as "victims" entitled to government help. "Outrageous and arrogant," Sen. Bernie Sanders said of Romney's "ruling class" attitude toward working people. Sanders on Thursday led a major bloc of senators who insisted that Social Security must be taken off the table in year-end deficit talks. President Obama should be clear that he agrees today with his own 2008 clear stand against any Social Security, Sanders added. In a Friday speech to the AARP, however, Obama left himself plenty of rhetorical wiggle room to make a deal with Republicans to cut Social Security.
A video of Mitt Romney at a fundraiser where he said nearly half of all Americans are beholden to government was made public on Tuesday. "This speaks to the extraordinary arrogance on the part of Romney and his, if I may use the term, ruling class friends who apparently think that the working people of this country who are struggling to support their families today, some of whom will be on Medicare and Social Security, are somehow inferior human beings who need guidance, who are not smart enough to take personal responsibility for their lives and care for their lives," Sanders said.
An influential collection of 29 senators took a strong stand against any cuts to Social Security as part of a deficit reduction deal. "We will oppose including Social Security cuts for future or current beneficiaries in any deficit reduction package," the senators said in a letter released Thursday that was circulated by Sanders, the founder of the Senate Defending Social Security Caucus. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Charles Schumer, the Senate's No. 3 leader, signed the letter.
Sen. Mark Begich (right) of Alaska looks on as Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks Thursday at a Capitol news conference on Social Security.
Older Americans Act
Comprehensive legislation was introduced Wednesday to reauthorize and expand the landmark law that supports Meals on Wheels and other essential programs for seniors. Sanders, the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging chairman, introduced the bill with 14 co-sponsors. "Millions of seniors today are hurting financially and we must give them the support they need to stay healthy in their homes and communities," he said. The Older Americans Act has saved taxpayer dollars, he stressed, by reducing health care expenses.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday said a new state law must be voided if would-be voters are denied easy access to photo ID cards needed to cast ballots. The Pennsylvania statute was one in a wave of voter ID laws intentionally designed to keep voters away from polls. Sanders has asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate what he called an "alarming number" of new state laws that would make it "significantly harder" for millions of eligible voters to cast ballots this November. The GAO plans to release a report later this month detailing current voter registration requirements and voting laws in all 50 states and how these laws have changed over the past decade.
Community Health Centers
A $1.2 million expansion of the Plainfield Health Center was dedicated on Monday. It is the latest example of progress under a $12.5 billion provision Sanders secured in the Affordable Care Act to double the number of patients nationwide who have access to affordable primary care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs, and to deploy more doctors, dentists and other health care professionals in underserved areas.
Income in America
Median household income dropped in fewer U.S. states last year than in 2010, with 18 registering a fall and one state - Vermont - notching an increase, the Census Bureau said on Thursday. Vermont's 4 percent rise in median household income last year was the first shown by a state since 2009, the Census Bureau said in its 2011 American Community Survey Vermont's rise in median household income last year was the first shown by a state since 2009, the Census Bureau said in its 2011 American Community Survey. The report also said that between the 2010 and 2011 American Community Survey, both the percentage and number of people in poverty in Vermont declined.