It's both frustrating and depressing to see just how out-of-touch Vermont's new governor is when it comes to leading this state out of its economic morass. He's not unlike a kid with a nickel burning a hole in his pocket and with his heart set-not on five-cents worth of jelly beans, but-on the big, swell colorfully wrapped $1 candy bar. And not unlike the kid with his smoking nickel, the governor has no sense of either proportion or reality- at least as far as what and how much that nickel can buy.
The governor is presiding over a little state that can no longer pay for Candy Land fantasies such as single-payer health care or ridge lines peppered with wind mill whirlygigs.
At the moment, Gov. Shumlin's single-payer health care legislation, H.202, is Montpelier's biggest Candy Land drool fest. Vermont Democrats have been salivating for months over H.202's incense and peppermint, and cure-all allure.
But H.202 is just another unrealistic, high-cost socialized health-care program that ignores the simple fact that the state's coffers (and citizens) are unable to sustain such a plan. And don't even think of asking Vermonters to assume more taxes to pay for it until our fiscal and jobs house is put in order.
Shumlin and his political majority of legislators have spent four months ignoring the long litanies of testimony via newspaper op-eds by Vermont employers, health-care providers, and everyday citizens, to take the responsible approach to health-care reform.
It's late April 2011 now and we still have no idea how much the governor's health-care plan will cost, what it will cover, and how it will affect individuals, local providers, and the state's long-term financial picture.
Shumlincare has no real funding plan, no real benefit package, no real measurement of the impact on health care providers or the economy down the road. There's just nothing there.
Shumlin's plan is a looming train wreck. And it looks to all the world that the governor is just as fiscally clueless on other matters, too-from so-called green jobs and commuter rail to closing Vermont Yankee and importing Canadian energy.
The fact is that this kid's nickel can never buy enough $1 candy bars. Candy Land is tapped out.
The governor's health-care bill has already eaten up too much time and attention. In some curious ways, it reflects Obama's ill-timed, reckless health-care obsession last year.
We have just witnessed a full legislative session in Montpelier that was devoted to Shumlincare. That session should have been devoted to figuring out how to balance the books while developing a tax strategy to attract and keep businesses that create skilled jobs-not just green jobs.
There's a war on for our financial survival. And certain legislators, on nearly every level of government, just don't see the danger. They seemingly ignore the clear and present warnings from local to national level-such as Vermont's new, disgraceful overly taxed ranking (Vermont taxpayers work until April 10 to pay their total tax bill, placing it 18th highest in the nation) and Standard and Poor's ominous credit warning to the USA.
Here at home, our financial house is on fire. Let's, first, allocate the resources to put out the fire; then we'll check to see what can be salvaged from the house.