Believe it or not, there are two independents in the United States Senate. One is Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats and is closely associated with the Progressive Party of Vermont. Although he is closely associated with two parties, he is a member of neither and is a bona fide independent. The other independent is “Independent Democrat” Joe Lieberman, who lost the Democratic primary for his seat in 2006 and founded the Connecticut for Lieberman Party, on whose ballot line he won. Now he caucuses with the Democrats, but not without controversy. The following are a few recent news items on both of them:
- Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation to put a cap on credit card interest rates. The top rate would be 15 percent. Among other things, he said, “At the same time that the large financial institutions are getting almost zero interest loans from the Fed, these large Wall Street firms and credit card companies are charging the American people 15, 20, 30 percent interest rates on their cards.”
- Sanders has called the b0nuses from AIG “morally reprehensible” and “outrageous.” In addition, on Friday Night’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher he said that they are “symbolic” of a greater greed that has taken over the American financial system.
- The Burlington Free Press is reporting that Bernie Sanders has gotten more than $36,000,000 in earmarks for Vermont. The earmarks are going toward everything from promoting solar energy to renovating a community center.
- Joe Lieberman and Senator Gregg of New Hampshire have introduced a bill that would allow Senators to vote individually on earmarks.
- Lieberman has joined a group of “moderate Democrats” that are attempting to stop the Senate from passing legislation on issues like climate change and to encourage “fiscal responsibility.” It is headed by Evan Bayh of Indiana.