Senators Oppose Obama Cuts

Warren, Sanders Ready to Face Down Obama over Social Security, Medicare Cuts

As budget negotiations restart, Obama, GOP still pushing austerity

– Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Both images: Reuters

 

Though the ‘deficit scold dream‘ of a so-called ‘Grand Bargain’ may be diminished on Capitol Hill, a mini-version—circulating among some as the ‘Small Deal’ version of a 2014 austerity budget—is still on the table as congressional budget negotiations are set to resume Wednesday.

With austerity proposals again taking the lead in the latest budget battle, however, at least two progressive senators, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, are ready to fight such a deal.

“Instead of talking about cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, we must end the absurdity of corporations not paying a nickel in federal income taxes.” –Sen. Bernie Sanders

“Instead of talking about cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, we must end the absurdity of corporations not paying a nickel in federal income taxes,” Senator Sanders, who is on the Senate and House budget conference committee, wrote in an op-ed in the LA Times Monday.

Pushing for progressive tax reform as opposed to further cuts to key social programs and earned benefits, Sanders added, “We cannot impose more austerity on people who are already suffering. When 95% of all new income between 2009 and 2012 went to the top 1%, and while tens of millions of working Americans saw a decline in their income, we cannot cut programs that working families depend on.”

Among the austerity proposals put forth in Obama’s 2014 budget and still considered a bargaining chip in the new round of talks, significant worry among progressives centers around a plan that would reduce the annual cost of living calculations for Social Security payments, known as the ‘Chained CPI’, which would effectively reduce benefits for seniors.

“Chained CPI is just a fancy way to say ‘Cut benefits for seniors, permanently disabled, and orphans,’” warned Sen. Warren in a recent interview. “Our Social Security system is critical to protecting middle-class families, and we cannot allow it to be dismantled, inch by inch.”

According to the Boston Globe’s analysis, “Warren’s voice on the issue is key to liberals, and could put pressure on other Democrats to avoid compromising on the issue.”

“Our Social Security system is critical to protecting middle-class families, and we cannot allow it to be dismantled, inch by inch.” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren

“Her six-minute floor speech on the role of government during the shutdown,” the paper notes, “drew about 1  million views on YouTube, even though she had no official role in leading the Democrats’ case.”

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Lawsuit to Stop Frack Dumping in Allegheny River

Federal lawsuit: Plant in Warren discharging drilling waste into Allegheny River

October 28, 2013 11:41 PM

 

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Allegheny River at Warren, PA
Allegheny River at Warren, PA

By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Clean Water Action has filed a federal lawsuit against Waste Treatment Corp., alleging the commercial water treatment facility in Warren is illegally discharging gas drilling wastewater containing high levels of salts, heavy metals and radioactive compounds into the Allegheny River.

The statewide environmental organization, which filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in Erie, said the company has violated its discharge permit limits more than 400 times since 2010.

Despite those violations, and the ongoing 200,000-gallon-a-day discharge of drilling wastewater containing 125,000 pounds of salt, the state Department of Environmental Protection has not taken any effective action to stop the pollution, said Myron Arnowitt, Clean Water Action state director.

“You hear all the time that gas drilling wastewater doesn’t end up in our rivers anymore. However, this is one case in which it clearly is,” Mr. Arnowitt said.

A 2012 DEP study, cited in the lawsuit filing, found levels of chloride, bromide, lithium, strontium, radium-226 and radium-228 downriver from the plant that were more than 100 times higher than those found upriver from the plant.

The Allegheny River is the drinking water source for several public water suppliers, including the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, which has 400,000 customers.

The Waste Treatment Corp. treatment plant was one of 16 water treatment plants that were asked by then DEP Secretary Michael Krancer and Gov. Tom Corbett in April 2011 to “voluntarily” stop disposing of drilling wastewater. The DEP had said that all complied, including the eight of those discharging upriver from Pittsburgh’s drinking water intake pipe in Aspinwall.

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