Senate backers of comprehensive health care reform made an impassioned case for passage of a pubic option to private insurance, something like Medicare for all Americans. President Obama backed a one-time $250 payment to seniors on Social Security. The great American economic divide was on stark display as the Dow surged past 10,000 while unemployment stood near 10 percent. The income gap is the topic of this week's Web video Senator Sanders Unfiltered.
Health Care As the Senate inched closer to a floor debate on legislation to remake the health care system, Sanders and other senators in a closed-door meeting made what one report called "impassioned pleas for a new government insurance plan." Sanders was "among the outspoken champions of the public plan," according to The New York Times. He challenged Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus over his panel's failure to include a public option in the legislation it approved earlier in the week. More than 60 percent of the public and more than 80 percent of Democrats supported creation of a public insurance plan in a recent CBS News survey, Sanders noted. "It's difficult to understand why we can't give the American people what they want," he added. Sanders earlier called the Finance Committee bill "extremely weak," not only for its failure to include a public option, but because it does not make health care as affordable as it must be, and because it would tax health care benefits that workers fought long and hard for. To read the article, click here. To read the latest CBS poll, click here and scroll down to question No. 32. To take our survey, click here.
Social Security The Social Security Administration on Thursday announced that there will be no cost of living increase next year for more than 50 million seniors. Sanders has called for a one-time payment of $250 for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans, an idea endorsed on Wednesday by President Obama. Without emergency legislation, benefits will go down for the fist time since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975 because Medicare prescription drug premiums, which are deducted from Social Security, will rise. "In my view, the current formulation for determining Social Security cost-of-living adjustments does not reflect the reality of senior citizens' lives," Sanders said. "Seniors spend a disproportionate amount of their income on health care and prescription drugs, and those costs are rising rapidly." To watch the senator's floor speech, click here. To read the bill, click here. To read President Obama's statement, click here.
Economy As the Dow edged over the 10,000 mark for the first time since markets cratered a year ago, The Wall Street Journal splashed on its front page the news that the Goldman Sachs posted a huge quarterly profit, and bannered another report that major U.S. banks and securities firms will pay a record $140 billion this year. Meanwhile, unemployment benefits are running out for millions of workers who can't find jobs. Many who are still employed are earning much less than before. And the number of foreclosure filings hit a record high in the third quarter. "They were the worst three months of all time," said a spokesman for a company that tracks the trends. "There is something profoundly and morally wrong when the top 1 percent earns more income than the bottom 50 percent, when the top 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent, when CEOs of large corporations earn 400 times what their workers make. This is not what America is supposed to be about." Sanders said.
Afghanistan Senators Sanders and Patrick Leahy on Monday told hundreds of Vermont National Guard soldiers and their families the state will support them while they're in Afghanistan. Some 1,500 Vermont National Guard members will be deployed by early next year. "This is a small state. You are not alone when you go out there. Every man, woman and child in this state is behind you." Sanders said. He also said the debate in Washington over American policy in Afghanistan does not reflect any lack of support for the soldiers.
Dairy Crisis Sanders spoke Monday at the Addison County Farm Bureau annual meeting. The organization unanimously supported a new direction in the bureau's dairy policy by voting in a resolution that supports a "mandatory growth management program that can react quickly to the market demands." Sanders said the push for supply management in the dairy industry has to come from farmers, but that he supports a change. To read more in the Addison Independent, click here.