The federal government reopened Thursday after Congress ended a 16-day government shutdown and averted a default on U.S. debts. President Barack Obama signed the measure in time for hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers to get back on the job. Republicans in Congress had hoped to use the fiscal crisis they created as leverage to undo the Affordable Care Act. It didn't work. The agreement made virtually no concessions on the health care law. Sen. Bernie Sanders said he was glad that for now the "nightmare" was over, but he cautioned that continued spending cuts contained in the stopgap bill are "a disaster."
Sanders on Budget Conference Committee A member of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders was appointed to a Senate and House budget conference committee to try to create a long-term budget plan by Dec. 13 to avert another government shutdown. "I am excited about being a member of the budget conference committee and I look forward to working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to end the absurdity of sequestration and to develop a budget which works for all Americans. In my view, it is imperative that this new budget helps us create the millions of jobs we desperately need and does not balance the budget on the backs of working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor," Sanders said.
The Agenda Ahead The shutdown and the crisis atmosphere it created kept Congress from doing the work it should have been doing all along. "There are enormous issues facing this country. The middle class is disappearing. Poverty is at an all-time high. We're not even beginning to address the international crisis of global warming or our crumbling infrastructure or extremely high unemployment," Sanders said.
Irreparable Damage "Serious and long-lasting damage already has been done to our country by the right-wing extremists of the Tea Party," Sanders said. He cited the damage to the democratic process by those who would have annulled the last election to get their way. He cited the lost confidence of vulnerable citizens -- the elderly, the sick, veterans, the disabled, Head Start families -- who depend upon their government to keep its promises. He cited a loss of international prestige. And he cited the long-term damage to federal workers. "The American people are better than this. They deserve a better government," he said.
Sanders in the South Sanders traveled to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina on a three-day southern swing to discuss issues ranging from college costs, health care, jobs and income inequality.
Playboy Interview Like Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmy Carter and Steve Jobs before him, Sanders sat down for a Playboy Interview. Out on Thursday, the topics raised by noted economics writer Jonathan Tasini ranged from health care to the gaping wealth and income gap in America.