In a busy week in Vermont, Sen. Bernie Sanders hosted town meetings at Johnson State College and the University of Vermont, spoke on energy efficiency in Burlington, visited a dental clinic in Morrisville, stopped by a VA clinic in Newport, toured an affordable housing project in Rutland and spent time at a parent-child center in Middlebury. And the season's first snow fell in the Green Mountains.
Yet another study showed how the richest 1 percent of Americans got far richer over the last three decades while the household incomes of the middle class and poor only inched up. The report by the Congressional Budget Office said average after-tax income for the top 1 percent of U.S. households almost quadrupled, up 275 percent from 1979 to 2007, while the middle class saw incomes grow less than 40 percent. The income gap in America is partially the result of executive salaries and bonuses rising since 1979 and taxes on the rich falling. Meanwhile in the past 20 years health insurance costs rose more than 150 percent, housing costs were up 56 percent, and college tuitions are up 43 percent. Despite the lingering effects of the recession, the Commerce Department on Thursday reported that the U.S. economy grew at 2.5 percent during the third quarter.
The Senate plans to try again next week to take up a jobs bill. The focus will be on road and bridge projects that would create construction jobs. Republicans are expected to throw up more parliamentary road blocks like they did when they prevented the Senate from even considering a bill that would have helped states avoid layoffs of teachers and police officers. Sanders pointed to a New York Times/CBS News poll published on Tuesday that found overwhelming majorities favor the jobs legislation. There also is strong public support for a surtax on millionaires that would help pay for the measures. Take the poll
Occupy Wall Street
The income gap in America has been a focus of the Occupy Wall Street movement, now in its second month. More demonstrations are planned this weekend in cities across the country, including Burlington, Vt., where demonstrators planned to gather in City Hall Park. There was controversy this week when an Iraq war veteran, Scott Olsen was hit by a rubber police bullet during a clash in Oakland, Calif. Olsen was awaiting surgery to treat a fractured skull resulting from the incident.
Hundreds of college students attended town-meetings with Sanders at Johnson State College on Tuesday and the University of Vermont on Thursday. There was "a log of anxiety," Sanders said. Students asked about loan debts, the job market, the Occupy Wall Street movement, women's rights, campaign finance, health care, global warming and the recession. President Obama on Wednesday announced measures to make college more affordable. Capping student loan payments at 10 percent of discretionary income next year would save 1.6 million Americans hundreds of dollars. "The president's announcement is a step forward," Sanders said. "We need to go even further," he added, "to make sure that college is accessible and affordable for every student, regardless of family income."
Sen. Bernie Sanders led members of Congress in asking the State Department inspector general to investigate whether conflicts of interest tainted the process for reviewing the environmental impact of a proposed crude oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. In a separate letter, the senators and congressmen requested that President Obama defer any decision on whether to let the pipeline construction begin until the inspector general's investigation has been completed.
The six Democrats on the super committee announced a budget proposal that would cut the deficit by $3 trillion over a 10 year period. On Thursday House Speaker John Boehner rejected the proposal, declaring that its $1.3 trillion in tax increases was unacceptable.