Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called on Tuesday for an investigation into oil price manipulation. He also proposed a 30-day deadline for federal regulators to use emergency powers to curb excessive speculation in crude oil markets.
“We must do everything that we can to make sure that oil and gasoline prices are transparent and free from fraud, manipulation, abuse and excessive speculation,” said Sanders, a member of the Senate energy committee.
Over the past five months, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline has gone up by more than 41 cents. The price hikes come at a time when U.S. oil inventories reached a three-decade high while demand for gasoline is lower than four years ago when prices averaged less than $2.30 a gallon.
Sanders spoke about rapidly rising gas prices during a Senate floor speech on two amendments he proposed to the farm bill.
“The skyrocketing cost of gasoline and oil is causing tremendous hardship to the American consumer, small businesses, truckers, airlines and fuel dealers. In fact, as we struggle to claw our way out of this terrible recession, high oil and gas prices are enormously detrimental to the entire economic recovery process,” Sanders said.
Earlier this week, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined a large coalition of groups representing organized labor, seniors, veterans, women and progressives in delivering over 2 million petition signatures to the White House demanding no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and disabled veterans' benefits.
In his speech, Bernie said:
“Our job in the coming weeks and months… is to rally tens of millions of people who understand that in this country the middle class (and) working families are hurting, and we’re not going to balance the budget on their backs.”
“Anybody in the Congress who believes in cutting these … benefits … may well not be returning to Washington.”
President Obama's budget, released Wednesday, would cut benefits for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans through a so-called "chained consumer price index"(Chained CPI). This proposed change in how cost of living adjustments are calculated would mean that if you're 65 years old today, you would lose more than $650 a year when you reach 75 and more than $1,000 a year when you reach 85.
The proposed change would also affect more than 3.2 million veterans receiving disability benefits. Veterans who started receiving disability benefits at age 30 would have their benefits reduced by $1,425 at age 45, $2,341 at age 55 and $3,231 at age 65. Benefits for more than 350,000 surviving spouses and children would also be cut.
When the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street drove this country into the deepest recession since the 1930s, the largest financial institutions in the United States took every advantage of being American. They just loved their country - and the willingness of the American people to provide them with the largest bailout in world history. In 2008, Congress approved a $700 billion gift to Wall Street. Another $16 trillion in virtually zero interest loans and other financial assistance came from the Federal Reserve. America. What a great country.
But just two years later, as soon as these giant financial institutions started making record-breaking profits again, they suddenly lost their love for their native country. At a time when the nation was suffering from a huge deficit, largely created by the recession that Wall Street caused, the major financial institutions did everything they could to avoid paying American taxes by establishing shell corporations in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens.
In 2010, Bank of America set up more than 200 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands (which has a corporate tax rate of 0.0 percent) to avoid paying U.S. taxes. It worked. Not only did Bank of America pay nothing in federal income taxes, but it received a rebate from the IRS worth $1.9 billion that year. They are not alone. In 2010, JP Morgan Chase operated 83 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens to avoid paying some $4.9 billion in U.S. taxes. That same year Goldman Sachs operated 39 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens to avoid an estimated $3.3 billion in U.S. taxes. Citigroup has paid no federal income taxes for the last four years after receiving a total of $2.5 trillion in financial assistance from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis.
Bill’s conversation with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman yielded many insights, cautions, and honest takes on Jack Lew, President Obama’s choice for Treasury Secretary. We clipped three of those specific moments — including one web-exclusive that will not be shown on air — below.
In the first cut, Krugman discusses public support for seeing him in the Treasury position, and why Lew might have the right temperament for the job.
In this next, web-exclusive clip, Bill asks Krugman what he thinks of Jack Lew’s stated view that financial industry deregulation was not the “proximate cause” of the financial crisis, a view that recently moved Senator Bernie Sanders to oppose Lew’s nomination.
On Monday, Vermont Senator Sanders appeared on MSNBC's "Politics Nation" to talk with Rev. Al Sharpton about the ongoing budget negotiations.
"Not only is what they are proposing absurd, I think they are crazy politically." said Sanders. "I think when the people understand that they want to maintain tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, whose effective tax rate is very, very low and at the same time they want to balance the budget by cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, I think people all over this country are going to say, you guys are nuts, you're really out of touch with what ordinary americans are thinking and believing." he continued.
A White House spokesman responded to the GOP's fiscal cliff counteroffer late Monday, saying it "does not meet the test of balance." Erskine Bowles of the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission also criticized the offer.
[Editor's Note: Please read through to the end to learn how you can win a pair of free tickets to see "Heist."]
For those who are still wondering what fueled the Occupy Movement and just what is it they're protesting about, those questions are easily answered once you’ve seen the movie Heist: Who Stole The American Dream?. In just under an hour and a half, the film brings the Occupy Movement to life in cinematic form, and all the ills of our society are made clear, revealing both greedy corporate executives and politicians bent on destroying the middle class.
Structured as a political thriller, the documentary from Donald Goldmacher and Frances Causey explains how powerful special interests have worked to derail American worker's rights and protections since the implementation of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Thom Hartmann narrates, and with observations of the featured experts including Media Matters for America’s David Brock, American Airlines former President and Chair Robert Crandall, Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston, Rebuild the Dream’s Van Jones, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and others, Heist details the assaults committed against American workers, and the gutting of the U.S. economy, the result of 4 decades of deregulation, massive job outsourcing, and tax policies favoring mega-corporations and wealthy elites.
More than a recounting of history and documenting the atrocities, Heist is a call to action. To rise up against those who’ve used deregulation, like the repeal of Glass-Steagall to victimize the masses. It sounds an alarm on the need to restore the Fairness Doctrine, repealed by Ronald Reagan, which led to the current slew of airwave liars and hatemongers. You'll come to understand the need to safeguard and strengthen unions and workers’ rights as Koch funded Governors like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich work to systematically destroy them. You will be outraged as you watch a panel of Human Resources professionals provide training on bypassing American workers in favor of lower wage foreign workers, and again as Bill Gates testifies unopposed before Congress on the merits of H1B legislation to import foreign workers under the guise that not enough American workers have the skill to do the jobs.
Heist is the rallying cry of the 99 percent, who can take this moment in history and transform the American economic and political landscape through information-sharing and direct action. Heist is a warning as well as a vision of a new future. Viewers will come away from the film feeling that they understand who broke the economy and how, and knowing what is needed to fix it.
Thanks to the great group of folks who put this film together, I've got 10 pairs of Free tickets for our readers. They're for the New York City premiere at the Quad Cinema - opening day is March 2nd - and runs for one week. You have your choice from March 2 - 8 and from any screening time. Note the special screening dates and times with the question and answer sessions after the film that sound really interesting.
Now, all you have to do to get the free tickets is be one of the first 10 people to email me at "firstname.lastname@example.org" with your name, choice of date and show time, and tickets will be available for you at the Quad's "Will Call." Please use "HEIST TICKETS" in the subject line of your email.
HEIST: WHO STOLE THE AMERICAN DREAM?
EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT | MARCH 2 - 8, 2012 | ONE WEEK ONLY!
at NY’s Quad Cinema 34 West 13th Street, NYC
Warning that "American democracy in endangered," Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted and secret campaign spending by corporations on U.S. elections. The first constitutional amendment ever proposed by Sanders during his two decades in Congress would reverse the narrow 5-to-4 ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission.
"Make no mistake, the Citizens United ruling has radically changed the nature of our democracy, further tilting the balance of power toward the rich and the powerful at a time when already the wealthiest people in this country have never had it so good," Sanders said.
"In my view, history will record that the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision is one of the worst decisions ever made by a Supreme Court in the history of our country."
Sanders's amendment, S.J.Res. 33, would state that corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as persons, that corporations are subject to regulation, that corporations may not make campaign contributions and that Congress has the power to regulate campaign finance.
Sanders said he has never proposed an amendment to the Constitution before, but said he sees no other alternative to reversing the Citizens United decision.
"In my view, corporations should not be able to go into their treasuries and spend millions and millions of dollars on a campaign in order to buy elections," he said. "I do not believe that is what American democracy is supposed to be about."