Who Defines Transparency in Government?

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

The Week in Review from: http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/

January 29, 2010

In a break with decades of Senate confirmation votes on Federal Reserve chairmen, almost twice as many senators as ever before on Thursday voted to deny Ben Bernanke a second term as head of the central bank. “It is a rebuke. They can’t spin it any other way,” Sanders told Thom Hartmann’s nationally-syndicated talk radio program. On Wednesday, a special joint session of Congress convened for what Sanders called a “strong and persuasive” State of the Union address by President Obama that emphasized the need to create more jobs to pull the United States out of a recession. In Vermont, a $50 million grant to upgrade passenger rail service, and create jobs in the process, was announced by the congressional delegation on Thursday.

The Fed The Senate sent a clear signal to the Federal Reserve with an historic number of “no” votes on the confirmation of Ben Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the central bank. The roll call vote on Bernanke was 70 to 30, more “no” votes than were ever cast in opposition to a nominee for Fed chairman. “The Senate vote sends a loud and clear message to the Fed and to Chairman Bernanke: Start representing the needs of the middle class and working families, not just Wall Street CEOs. Stop credit card ripoffs. Free up credit for small businesses. Break up big banks, and stop the secrecy surrounding trillions of dollars in blind loans,” said Sanders, a leader of the opposition to Bernanke. To read more about the opposition to Bernanke in The New York Times, click here. To see what Sanders told Vermont Public Radio, click here. To watch the senator’s floor speech, click here.

State of the Union President Obama promised to make jobs his top priority as the country struggles to recover from the severe recession.  “To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills,” Obama told a joint session of Congress.  “I thought the president gave a strong, persuasive and articulate speech,” Sanders said afterward. “As he indicated, this country faces some of the most serious problems that we have ever encountered, including the worst economy since the Great Depression.  The president is right in saying that as Americans ‘we don’t quit.’ I have every confidence that the American people – with our energy, idealism and intelligence – can fight our way through the current crises and leave our children a better country than we inherited.”

White House Reboots The Obama administration on Thursday outlined a strategy for breaking the partisan logjam holding up Obama’s agenda.  The White House said it would focus on job creation, reducing the deficit and imposing tighter regulation on banks before returning to health care, Obama’s top priority last year. Even some allies were skeptical about Obama’s outreach.  ”In order to dance, you need a dance partner and there ain’t no partner out there,” Sanders told The New York Times. To read the article, click here.

High-Speed Rail The day after his State of the Union speech, Obama continued to talk about ways to create jobs. As part of an $8 billion nationwide investment in passenger railroad service, the White House announced that Vermont will receive $50 million for major rail improvements along Amtrak’s Vermonter line. The funding will help pay for construction of track, roadbed and bridge improvements along 190 miles of railroad used by Amtrak Vermonter service between St. Albans, Vt., and Springfield, Mass., according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The upgrade will reduce trip times and improve reliability. Sanders said, “This is great news. It will create much-need jobs for Vermont now, provide a long-term boost for our economic future, and help Vermont become energy efficient as we strengthen our public transportation. I thank President Obama and the Department of Transportation for understanding Vermont’s important role in the northeastern United States transportation network.” To read more about it, click here.

Solar Energy Jobs Sen. Sanders, chairman of the Green Jobs and New Economy Subcommittee, held a hearing this week on the opportunism presented for job growth in the solar energy industry.  The senator announced that he will introduce legislation to calls for the installation of 10 million rooftop solar systems on homes and businesses across the country over the next ten years.  Sanders welcomed to the hearing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar as well as solar industry experts like Jeff Wolfe, chief executive officer of groSolar in White River Junction, Vermont.  To watch the senator’s opening statement (minute 22:00) and/or Wolfe’s testimony (minute 95:20), click here.

Vermont Yankee Following recent alarming news about the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in southeastern Vermont, the state’s congressional delegation called the Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman to Capitol Hill for a meeting.  Chairman Jaczko told Sens. Sanders and Leahy and Rep. Welch that the commission is conducting a full investigation and is working to identify and remedy the leak, and is assessing whether company officials misled regulators about the potential risk from underground piping at the plant.  They have dispatched two additional investigators to the plant.  The delegation said, “We remain deeply troubled about the radioactive leak at the Vermont Yankee plant, and called on Chairman Jaczko and the NRC to use all authority granted to the NRC under federal law to investigate the cause of this leak and work to fix it.”  To read more, click here.

Dairy and Agriculture Sen. Sanders invited Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to Vermont for a series of events.  Sanders will host the former governor of Iowa at a public town meeting on dairy issues on February 13 at 10am in the Burlington Hilton.  He will also accompany the USDA secretary to the organic farming association conference.  Sen. Patrick Leahy will also participate in the dairy town meeting panel and will host the secretary as he speaks to the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery Annual Meeting in St. Albans.  Sanders was recently able to pass legislation to provide $350 million in dairy assistance to struggling farmers through the USDA.  In 2009, dairy farmers experienced the lowest prices in 40 years. As prices plunged, family dairy farms in Vermont and around the country went out of business.

New Poll Thinking about the current level of unemployment, have we pretty much hit the bottom, or is there still a ways to go before we hit the bottom?  Which do you think should be more important in Washington? Reduce deficit even if unemployment remains high or create more jobs even if it means less deficit reduction.  Regarding federal spending to help homeowners facing foreclosure or who have already lost their homes to foreclosure, do you think there has been too much, too little, or about the right amount?  To take the poll, click here.

Editors comment: If your members of the U.S. Senate or Congress aren’t this open and transparent, whether you agree with them or not, perhaps you need to vote them out. America cannot tolerate dead weight in “The Peoples” chambers any longer. Senator Sanders, thank you!… Senator Patty Murray, you’re dead weight and, I’m not a republican or partisan hack, what are you?