News from Bernie

— from Sen. Bernie Sanders

Unemployment Sen. Bernie Sanders said real unemployment rose in April to 13.9 percent. That figure from the Labor Department counts workers forced into part-time jobs and those who dropped out of the labor market. “It should be a real concern to all of us,” Sanders told Thom Hartmann on WWRL-AM in New York and other stations. Among “the hardest hit groups” are young people graduating from high school or leaving college with heavy student loan debts. Sanders renewed his call for rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure to create millions of good paying jobs. AUDIO

White House ’16 “My choice for the next president is Bernie Sanders. He focuses on jobs, wars and corporations, which are our three main problems in this country. We need more jobs. We need to put people to work. We need to redo our infrastructure,” Steve from New York said Saturday on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. I’m just saying that he is the man who tells the truth. He is the most truthful person that I have heard on TV or anyplace else. We need somebody who tells the truth.” VIDEO

Koch Brothers Sen. Sanders and Jim Dean, chairman of Democracy for America, penned a letter to the CEO of Tribune Company asking it not to sell any of its newspapers to Koch Industries, reported The Hill. Concerned about the Koch brothers’ “enormous economic and political power,” Sanders and Dean voiced strong opposition to any potential offer from Koch Industries. LINK

Gas Prices Vermont lawmakers are looking at whether consumers are getting gouged at the pump. The focus is on a bill to give the attorney general the ability to track price data to see if companies are manipulating the market. Dan McLean, a senior press aide for Sen. Sanders, told the House Transportation Committee that the senator’s investigation into high gas prices caused prices to drop in the Burlington area, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Irene Recovery The Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay just $1.55 million of the $3.9 million Bennington spent on emergency work after Tropical Storm Irene. Members of Vermont’s congressional delegation said they would continue to seek all the support the town deserves. They welcomed FEMA’s decision 20 months after the storm to reconsider an initial refusal to pay for any of the cleanup work, the Bennington BannerRutland Herald andTimes Argus reported. LINKLINK

Older Americans Act More than 20 senators joined Sen. Sanders in asking for additional funding for programs created by the Older Americans Act of 1965. These programs include senior nutrition initiatives such as Meals on Wheels, job training services for low-income seniors and federal initiatives to protect vulnerable seniors from abuse, The (Bend, Ore.) Bulletinreported. LINK

Social Security Sen. Sanders’ proposal to strengthen Social Security by making incomes over $250,000 a year subject to the payroll tax that funds the retirement program was cited favorably by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. The author of Conscious Capitalism was speaking at the Tucson Festival of Books during a forum at the University of Arizona broadcast by C-SPAN on Book TV. VIDEO

Postal Service California lawmakers are banding together to stop the sale of Berkeley’s historic Main Post Office, reported Berkeley Patch. It cited Sen. Sanders’ proposal to save the Postal Service from its financial troubles. LINK

Senate ’14 President Obama lacks “an understanding that he’s never going to get anywhere with Republicans” who have little incentive to deal with him because they have a shot at regaining control of the Senate in 2014, Paul Brandus argued in an essay for The Week. Although Democrats, including the independent Sanders, control the Senate this term, 21 Democratic seats are up for grabs in November of 2014. LINK


Israel Bombs Syria Israel has carried out an air strike targeting a shipment of missiles in Syria bound for Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon, an Israeli official said on Saturday. Israel had long made clear it is prepared to resort to force to prevent advanced Syrian weapons, including President Bashar al-Assad’s reputed chemical arsenal, reaching his Hezbollah allies or Islamist rebels taking part in a more than two-year-old uprising against his government,Reuters reported. LINK


Missing Workers A huge number of Americans remain out of the workforce, according toNational Journal. The “labor force participation rate” held steady in April at 63.3 percent—the lowest level since 1979. Demographics and retirements certainly played some role, though economists cannot agree on the extent. Altogether about 6.7 million people have stopped looking for work since late 2007, says Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the left-leaning think tank Economic Policy Institute. Roughly 3 million to 5 million of them left because they could not find jobs, economists estimate. LINK

Congress Returns Legislation to improve the nation’s water infrastructure and overhaul farm programs will dominate the Senate’s coming work period, while the House will turn its attention to prioritizing spending in case the debt limit is reached. Senators are scheduled to complete work Monday on legislation to allow states to tax more Internet sales and then turn to consideration of the Water Resources Development Act, which a senior Senate Democratic aide said is expected to take up the balance of next week, Congressional Quarterly reported. LINK

Senate Unappealing A dearth of candidates for an open Senate seat in Iowa reflects what former and current senators and those who once aspired to the office say is a sad truth: rarely has the thought of serving in the Senate seemed so unappealing. The New York Times said the Senate is so riven by partisanship and gummed up by its own arcane rules that potential candidates from Georgia to Kentucky, Iowa to Montana are loudly saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.”  LINK