The Putney Man With A Plan

Peter Shumlin, completing his Potential Congressional Candidate Tour at POLITICO’s State Solutions Conference, recently used the already-tired “hostage taking” line, regarding Republicans in Congress.  Peter likes to go with a winner, so let’s tuck in, shall we?

I once told a lie this big!

I once told a lie this big!

“The one thing that stands in our way of prosperity, of job creation, right now, is this Congress, which refuses to work with the president,” Shumlin said Friday on POLITICO’s State Solutions Conference, adding: “We have a Congress that is holding American prosperity hostage right now; we have Republican governors who are passing the tax policies they can’t get past a Democratic [Senate] and a Democratic president.”

Ah.  Prosperity being held hostage – one presumes, at gunpoint, but only a gun that Joe Biden might endorse, like a shotgun?

Peter seems to think that a Democrat-controlled US Senate that has failed to pass a budget in 4 years, even when they are legally required to do so, does not hold American prosperity hostage.  Record-setting deficits, 2X-3X the prior administration’s record-setting deficits, do not have an impact on American prosperity.  Increased taxes, which Shumlin wildly applauds, and is actively seeking ideas on new Things To Tax, are apparently having no impact on American prosperity, either.  The USG taking control of 1/6th of the economy probably has no impact on the average American’s prosperity, either, as insurance rates go up and coverage is diminished – and that the true costs of the enterprise are only coming to light now, as they are with Shumlin’s own version of single-payer.

But wait! There’s more evidence of the fantastic job Shumlin, et al, have done to, or on, Vermont’s economy:
Shumlin, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, has pitched progressive leadership on the state level as a solution to what he calls an obstructionist GOP House of Representatives. Shumlin cited Vermont’s unemployment rate — the sixth lowest in the country — and income growth — it was the only state to see any in 2011 — as evidence his plans could work.

Shumlin ignores the other facts about the state economy (elaborated upon here) that are not evidence that his plans are working.  Unemployment is low in a state whose largest employer is the state of Vermont, and yet the private sector has shed jobs between 2002 and 2011 at historic levels.  Vermont’s unemployment rate is low because the size of the workforce continually shrinks, as fewer and fewer Vermonters have children, and the number of retired Vermonters increases.  Even if Shumlin does nothing, nothing at all, the unemployment number is going to be low – but that does not mean the state’s economy is doing well.  If unemployment was zero and everyone was working at a $10 an hour job, would that demonstrate the greatness of his plans?

And now Peter wants to install single-payer in Vermont, a plan that will again raise taxes and fail to provide services to the people who are now being served in VHAP and other programs.  But it’s Republicans that are “holding American prosperity hostage”?

I suggest that the governor take a look in the mirror.  Vermonters who are under-employed, unemployed, or have left the state to find real work know that Peter is the one who is holding the gun, not the people who actually work for a living.  So let me ask you some questions:

1.  Why do Vermont-born college graduates leave the state at such a pace that you want to spend state money to keep them here?  Is it because your economic “plan” is kicking such mighty ass that college graduates want to leave the state?  Even the Vermont Dept. of Labor shows that the jobs with the highest number of available positions (2010 data) were retail or cashier positions that do not require a college degree (click on the “Occupations with the largest employment” search option in the link).  Is that why the unemployment rate is low?

2.  Why does Forbes rank Vermont 44th in the country in terms of business climate?  Is it because of our low unemployment rate?

3.  Why did we lose 25% of our manufacturing positions from 2002 through 2011?  Roughly 10,000 jobs, gone – yet unemployment remains low, so this should be good news?GREECE RIOTS ANNYVERSARY

The Governor is simply pitching data that he knows will make him look good, or better, as a national candidate, when so much of what he’s selling stinks once you take the lid off it.  The thing is, this kind of garbage actually sells, because it’s easy to tell people the things they would like to hear, rather than the hard and painful truth.

If the Governor isn’t good at helping to create a business climate that actually produces real jobs, he is good at selling Vermont as a model for other states to follow.  He could simply cut to the chase, though, and point to other models that are a bit further along than Vermont’s, so we can all enjoy the view.  Places called “Spain” and “Greece”, for instance.

Those countries had plans, too.  How is that working out for them, by the way?

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