The size of the economic stimulus package has been hotly debated in Washington. Democrats in the Senate are seeking Senator Bernie Sanders’ support in expanding the version that was passed by the U.S. House. Bob Kinzel talks with Sanders about the economic package and the results of the Super Tuesday presidential primaries.(Listen)
Also in the program, VPR reporters analyze a new school funding proposal and look ahead to the Vermont Primary on Town Meeting Day.(Listen)
And we listen back to some of the voices in the week’s news.(Listen)
Comments from listeners:
Wayne from St. Lazare, Quebec:
As an interested Canadian observer of the perpetually gridlocked American political process, how can you help break the paralyzing effect of polarized two-party politics in your country? Most Western democracies have well-functioning multi-party systems. Is it not time for the mantra of "change" to apply to the structure of government and not just the process?
Justin from Montpelier:
First, thank you and Senator Leahy for working to help those in the most need at this time. However, what is quite clear is that more should have been done. While Congress and the President are able to spend $146 billion on a stimulus package to propel consumerism, our schools remain dramatically underfunded, millions of children don’t have health care, and we have yet to control higher education costs to make it affordable for lower income families. Thus, while we, my family and I, will likely receive a $1500 check from the government, we will be donating it to those who are truly in need. I hope others may think to do the same.
Will from Cavendish:
When thinking about what to do about the faltering economy, has the Senate considered the fact that virtually every state is cutting back on spending right now as it deals with the need to balance budgets with declining revenues? Wouldn’t it make some sense for the federal government to consider a
temporary "revenue sharing" to stabilize the state budgets?
Ano from Barre:
Why should we support a stimulus package that adds $168 billion to the national debt, and purports to strengthen the economy by encouraging irrational personal financial decisions in the form of unnecessary consumer spending?
Randy from North Bennington:
There is growing concern about the imminent peak of worldwide oil production, and subsequent rapid decline in affordable petroleum products. As petroleum is the common denominator to every aspect of the "American way of life," and there is no alternative energy source which is capable of taking its place, a growing number of us hold this as the greatest threat to national (and global) security. Why is there not more discussion about management of this immense and inevitable problem among our leaders?
Ted from Burlington:
From an environmental and scientific research perspective why should we vote for Barack Obama and/or Hillary Clinton? Why don’t you run for president? How is the Bush administration’s refusal to acknowledge the anti-sonar/whale protection edict handed down in San Francisco legal?
Mary from Barnard:
You spoke of the failure to include help for solar and wind power in the stimulous package. How can this issue be kept on the front burner and is it likely that the Senate will vote in the future to help these alternative energy businesses? I am in the process of exploring wind power, and the rebates and tax credits are what makes it possible for the average Vermonter. Will these tax credits be continued or even expanded?
Listener named Steve:
People are hurting, and need immediate help. However, what do you suggest to address the long term economic problems we face? Should we be looking at the high cost of living rather than giving people more money, i.e. raising the minimum wage?
Tom from Rutland Town:
Thank you Senator Sanders, you make me proud to be a Vermonter! Keep up the excellent job.
Richard from Ryegate:
Bernie, what do you think about the success or failure of deregulation of much of our service industries over the last 20 or 30 years. Is it time to change course?
Dennis from Jeffersonville:
It seems to me that the best way to stimulate the economy is to get money in the hands of those who need it the most. What are the chances of getting the unemployment insurance extension through the Senate and House?
Sue from Saint Albans:
A visit to the CIA World Fact Book www.cia.gov/library/publicatioons/the-world-factbook confirms that Senator Sanders is speaking factually when he says that we are at the bottom of the world heap when it comes to income equity. Most would agree that the CIA represents a pretty unbiased source for such information. I keep this page bookmarked on my computer for regular reference. There, you will also discover that our infant mortality rate and life expectancy paint a picture of America as having the poorest health care system in the western world; even Cuba gets higher marks on both counts. Have a look at our debt while you are at it. A review of all the CIA World Fact Sheet should confirm that we are already well on our way to becoming a third world country. Our national security may soon depend upon addressing these inequities.