From left to right, regular unleaded costs $3.60/gallon in Burlington, $3.36 and $3.31 at pumps in Middlebury.
Unbalanced Gas Prices:
Are motorists getting ripped off? Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday checked out gas prices at a station in Burlington, Vt., charging $3.60 for regular and stations 35 miles away in Middlebury, Vt., charging $3.36. and $3.31. Why the big difference? A federal investigation into unusually high gasoline prices was called for by Sanders. He asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate why gasoline prices in Chittenden, Grand Isle and Franklin counties are substantially higher than other parts of the state. Gas prices in Burlington exceed the maximum price projected by a Federal Trade Commission computer model for the region, according to commission computer analysis that Sanders made public on Thursday.
In Washington, D.C., on Saturday, temperatures hit 105 degrees at National Airport by late afternoon, the latest in what’s become a pattern of record hot weather around the country. “Climate change is real, is significantly man-made and already is causing billions of dollars in damage,” the senator said Friday on The Thom Hartmann Program.
The Labor Department on Friday said the official unemployment rate in June stayed at 8.2 percent.
The Justice Department announced on Monday that GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay a $3 billion fine, a relative slap on the wrist. Sanders has proposed a crackdown on pharmaceutical fraud. The Justice Department announced the GlaxoSmithKline settlement on criminal and civil violations for bribing American doctors, pushing antidepressants on children and hiding the heart attack risk of a diabetes drug. Widely ballyhooed as the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history, the fact is that “it is a pittance to Glaxo,” Lawyers.com editor Larry Bodine blogged Friday for The Huffington Post. ”These fines … are chump change in comparison to the company’s bottom line and highly unlikely to bring real change to its - or, indeed, the industry’s - future practices,” Judith Warner blogged at Time. By our calculations, the drug maker may have made $70 billion or more from sales of these three drugs. So to Sanders, the question is: “Is fraud within the pharmaceutical industry the exception, or is it, simply put, their business model?” He has proposed tough new penalties to combat rampant fraud. Companies fined for overcharging Medicare or Medicaid, or for dangerous illegal marketing practices, would be stripped of their government-granted monopolies on those medications.
There is growing grassroots anger over the millions of dollars in Super PAC money pouring into elections since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. In a largely-overlooked ruling last week, the court used a case from Montana to reaffirm the ruling in Citizens United. In an editorial on Thursday, The National Catholic Reporter sympathized with Sanders’ call for a constitutional amendment. In a television commentary, veteran news anchor Tom Van Howe talked about the “loony” ruling in Citizens United and agreed with Sanders’ warning that the United States is rapidly becoming a plutocracy.