A special congressional committee prepared for the first hearing this coming Wednesday on a budget for the coming year. The White House, meanwhile, scrambled to fix the botched website developed to let people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Overseas, the U.S. was in damage-control mode over reports that U.S. intelligence agencies spied on foreign leaders. A “national embarrassment,” Sen. Bernie Sanders called it. He discussed these and other topics on Friday during Brunch with Bernie, his weekly radio, TV and Internet appearance on The Thom Hartmann Program.
Budget Conference Sanders expressed hope that “some of the non-crazy Republicans” on the panel will listen to the overwhelming public sentiment for tax fairness and reasonable defense cuts without imperiling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Sanders is one of 29 lawmakers on the committee. Listen to his radio interview with Ed Schultz
Spying on Allies The NSA has monitored the phone conversations of at least 35 world leaders, according to documents obtained by The Guardian. Sanders worried that the ability of the U.S. to combat international terrorism was jeopardized. He also voiced concern that our damage done to our ability to work with other countries to strengthen the global economy and address the planetary crisis of global warming. “The recklessness and illegal behavior of the NSA in terms of spying on governmental leaders around the world has become a national embarrassment and it is creating very serious problems in our relationships with the international community,” he said on Friday. “The administration must work with Congress on strong legislation which reins in the NSA, protects the constitutional rights of all Americans and puts an end to the outrageous and overzealous abuse of the agency’s surveillance technology. Read Sanders’ letter to President Obama
Obamacare “Clearly the rollout has not been good,” Sanders told WDEV-AM’s Mark Johnson. But the senator said he was confident that “at the end of the day the program will get its act together.” Sanders voted for the Affordable Care Act, but he said “it’s too complicated.” He prefers a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system that would provide better care to more people at less cost.
Unemployment The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday that 13.8 percent of the workforce was unemployed in September when those forced to settle for part-time jobs and those who gave up looking for work are counted. The official U.S unemployment rate ticked down to 7.2 percent in September when the economy added only 148,000 jobs, according to the report that was delayed by the 16-day government shutdown. That shutdown, by the way, is expected to drag down the economy for the rest of the year.
Shutdown Fallout An unsurprising 81 percent of Americans polled for The Washington Post and ABC News disapproved of the 16-day government shutdown this month, according to survey results published on Tuesday. Seventy-one percent said they “strongly” disapproved. Overwhelming majorities also say the shutdown damaged the U.S. economy, hurt the United States’ image in the world and was bad for the morale of federal employees. What do you think? Read the Post article about its poll
What’s Denmark’s Secret? While surveys find more Americans pessimistic about the future and a growing number think our country is on the wrong track, maybe we can learn something from Denmark, where families are appreciated and health care is a civil right for the people that are the happiest on earth. Read more at The Huffington Post