The Week in Review

In a huge boost for efforts to reverse global warming, this year's Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Al Gore. A sad anniversary passed mostly unnoticed. Congress braced for a major veto override battle on children's health insurance. There was some progress on Capitol Hill toward making housing more affordable, but Bush threatened another veto. At week's end, a new report found the gap between the rich and poor in America grew wider than at any time since the 1920s when the economy nosedived int

Global Warming Former Vice President Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the peace prize for their work on climate change. Gore "is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted," the Nobel citation said. "It's a big deal and he deserves it," Senator Bernie Sanders said. The senator also praised the work of the U.N. committee, a network of 2,000 scientists, which was cited by the Nobel prize committee for its scientific reports that have "created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming." Gore, by the way, has endorsed legislation by Sanders that is the most aggressive measure in Congress to combat global warming. "If we do not get our act together on global warming, there will be cataclysmic problems in the years to come," Sanders told Air America Radio host Thom Hartmann on Friday (you can listen to the Senator live every Friday at noon). To read more, click here.

The War in Iraq Five years ago this past week, the House voted 296-to-133 for a resolution that President Bush used to launch the war in Iraq. (Then-Congressman Sanders voted no.) The next day, the resolution passed the Senate 77-to-23. It authorized the United States to use military force to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq." The war now has lasted longer than the United States was in World War II.

Children's Health With health insurance for more than 2,000 Vermont kids at stake, Congress and the White House braced for battle over the future of the popular Children's Health Insurance Program. President Bush vetoed legislation that passed by overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate, but supporters in the House were struggling to come up with the extraordinary two-thirds majority needed to pass the bill over the president's objection. The Senate had passed the bill with a strong, bipartisan, veto-proof majority, but the real test is in the House, where an override vote is scheduled for Thursday. The Vermont congressional delegation - Senators Leahy and Sanders and Representative Peter Welch - all support the legislation. To read more about the veto, click here.

Affordable Housing A National Affordable Housing Trust Fund - championed for years by Bernie Sanders -would be created under legislation the House approved on Wednesday by a vote of 264-to-148. "There is no question that the availability of affordable housing is one of the most serious problems facing communities throughout America," Sanders said. The measure headed for the Senate would provide up to $1 billion a year in funding for states and local communities to distribute grants to build and rehabilitate affordable housing. The fund is modeled after successful state programs, like the Vermont Housing Trust Fund, which has generated more than 8,500 units of affordable housing statewide since its inception in 1987. Still, in Vermont 67 percent of households have incomes below what is needed to afford the median price of a single family home. Sanders first introduced the federal legislation when he was a member of the House, and he is working with other senators to craft similar legislation in the Senate.

The Rich and the Rest of Us During the same week when Sanders traveled to St. Johnsbury for a town meeting on poverty in the Northeast Kingdom, it was reported that the income gap between the wealthiest and poorest Americans grew greater than it has been at any time since the 1920s. Incomes for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans grew 3 percent to $364,657 between 2000 and 2005, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. The median American income slipped 2 percent during that same period to $30,881. Based on the analysis of Internal Revenue Service data, the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans earned 21.2 percent of the entire nation's income in 2005, up from the previous high of 20.8 percent in 2000. The bottom half of working Americans earned just 12.8 percent of the nation's entire income. That's down from 13.4 percent in 2004, and slightly lower than 13 percent in 2000. The IRS data dates back only to 1986, but experts say the last time the rich had this large of a share of income was during the 1920s. "What this is all about is that in America today, poverty is increasing, the middle class is shrinking and the wealthiest people haven't had it so good since the 1920s," Sanders said. By the way, if your ambition is to be among the very richest Americans, be aware that $1 billion no longer makes the cut. The price of admission to the 25th anniversary edition of the Forbes 400 list is $1.3 billion, up $300 million from last year.