Komline: Economic recovery requires discipline and practicality

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Patti Komline, a Republican representative to the Vermont House who lives in Dorset.

Over the last few days I’ve been reflecting on my lukewarm disappointment with regard to Mitt Romney’s loss. I’ve also been asked many times for my thoughts regarding the future of the Republican Party in Vermont.

Nationally, I believe we are in a decline of our own making and neither presidential candidate can turn the economy around. Perhaps we’ll sink faster with President Obama but either way we’re going down. A friend said it best, after the Titanic hit the iceberg, changing captains wouldn’t have made a difference. Improving our economy will take some major buy-ins from the public.

America needs to go on a fiscal diet. (Americans need to go on a food diet too, but that is discussion for another time.) When you put on too much weight you need to decrease calories and increase exercise. Well, we need to decrease our budget and increase our taxes — at the same time. Liberals will balk at the idea of budget cuts and conservatives will take a strong
stand against increased taxes. Everyone will yell and scream and the politicians will back off making tough decisions because they won’t be re-elected if they do.

We spent ourselves into this mess and it is time to accept the consequences. Unfortunately the public isn’t very good at facing this reality and we lack the discipline to withstand “short term pain for long term gain.” One only has to look at the situation in Europe in the wake of their austerity measures to see how well received this would be. I doubt either party will do what is necessary and partisans will point fingers but in truth, we are all to blame and if we stood ready to clean up our mess, elected officials would take the steps necessary to address our deficit, which would go a long way towards creating a better future for our children. We owe them that.

Another aspect of our struggling economy, which we hear about ad nauseum from politicians, centers on creating jobs. This recession has landed us in a place of less job need. People were laid off and businesses found they could get by with fewer employees. Some struggling businesses also abuse the willingness of young people to work as interns for little or no money in the hopes of procuring jobs. (Also a topic for another day, but I do think that this is as much a travesty as our illegal worker issue.) In years past young people could graduate with a degree in liberal arts or other esoteric majors and find career path employment. Now, these graduates are saddled with college debt and stuck with minimum wage jobs. This “recession generation” is part of the 47 percent that was so in-artfully stated. I could forgive Gov. Romney for the slight but I hear others pick up and defend this statement, which makes me cringe.

Many would be thrilled to move out of the category of the working poor. I hope the resilience of youth will stave off their despair because if that sets in we are all in serious trouble. How do we address this challenge?

We start by encouraging high school graduates to opt for studies in technically specific areas. Life has changed and receiving a degree in Ancient Egypt may have to be put aside by the reality that a nursing degree is more practical. Colleges have to suck it up and teach classes that hone real life job skills.

We start by encouraging high school graduates to opt for studies in technically specific areas. Life has changed and receiving a degree in Ancient Egypt may have to be put aside by the reality that a nursing degree is more practical. Colleges have to suck it up and teach classes that hone real life job skills. A professor might really want to teach the History of Landscape Architecture to an accounting major but electives (which are required too) should be more realistic. Making these practical decisions are the responsibility of individuals.

Here in Vermont our government can also step up. We need to address the “Poverty Cliff,” which discourages people from becoming financially independent. And we must do better at job training and placement for those struggling to make ends meet. Giving people hope and direction will empower them to take control of their lives. We should also think creatively
with regard to job creation and engage young people to help us. Innovation is our future and these very people will get us there.

The Vermont Republican Party needs to realize that many people are struggling and need help. Some game the system but there are more people who want desperately to be part of the 53 percent. To denigrate them is shameful. The GOP also needs to accept the fact that the majority of people in this state are socially liberal. The party ignores this at their peril. But Vermont Republicans aren’t the only ones in denial. The Vermont Democratic Party needs to believe that businesses are struggling and government should be making it less onerous for them to thrive. Regulations, taxes and restrictions should be kept to a minimum so they can grow and expand their workforce. You can say Vermont is good for business or you can say it’s bad. Before people choose to move their business here they look at a spreadsheet and their bottom line, not at partisan rhetoric.

Have we truly hit our economic iceberg? Nationally, we need to get on our fiscal scale, takes a good long look and decide that now is the time to do something about our expanding deficit, and young people need to accept the fact that they have to seek an education which prepares them for real jobs. Within Vermont I hope the Democratic Party doesn’t get so carried away with their huge majority that they become deaf to those who might be raising legitimate concerns and the Republican Party needs to open their eyes and ears to Vermont’s priorities. Hope and Change, what are the chances?

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31 Comments on "Komline: Economic recovery requires discipline and practicality"

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Rilla Murray
3 years 6 months ago
While I agree with Komline that there is plenty of pain to go around here, I disagree with the way she frames one of the avenues out of the mess. “Liberal Arts” and “Ancient Egypt” vs.. Technical, job-specific education fails to recognize what is currently missing regardless of major. And it’s absence is killing us. Critical thinking and the ability to express opinions civilly and based on reason is what we need in young people (and a lot of the public of all ages). Those skills have most often been acquired through the study of art and ideas, history, literature… Read more »
3 years 6 months ago
Patti Komline is absolutely correct – we need to raise taxes and reduce government spending. Rilla Murray is absolutely correct – we as a population truly need the general (ie liberal) arts as much as we need the technological specifics because technology is extremely complex and tightly intertwined with everything else. I would add (and hopefully be just as absolutely correct) that we need to have our political conversations start with the acceptance that both “we” and “I” are on an equal footing. Society could never exist without individuals, and there is not a single individual in existence who doesn’t… Read more »
3 years 6 months ago

In a totally different vein I think Ms Komline has overlooked something that should well illustrate the decline and hopefully eventual obliteration of today’s Republican Party: in 2008 your organization tried to foist Sarah Palin on the United States of America; and in 2012 you tried again with Mitt Romney.

A pair of incompetents who shared as their only political offering an uncanny willingness to lie about any and everything.

James Gill
3 years 6 months ago

Rama, very interesting set of posts.

In your first post you state:
“we need to have our political conversations start with the acceptance that both “we” and “I” are on an equal footing”

But 6 minutes later you start the bashing:
“A pair of incompetents who shared as their only political offering an uncanny willingness to lie about any and everything.”

Is this you effort to build unity? Or are you saying to the other side …. Work with me because you too incompetent to do it yourself?

3 years 6 months ago

No, James, take what I say at face value – and in the context it was offered. I make no apologies for rejecting the likes of Palin and Romney.

James Gill
3 years 6 months ago
Rama, The point of my comment was not to defend Ms. Palin or Mr. Romney The point of my comment is that when you start calling people. having a view that differs from your view, “incompetent” with an “uncanny willingness to lie about any and everything”, it surly is not conducive to creating an environment of cooperation. I can only conclude from your statements that you have no interested in building any ‘unity’ to address the problems we face and that your statement on “political conversations start with the acceptance that both “we” and “I” are on an equal footing”,… Read more »
3 years 6 months ago

Go back to my original comment for some context, James, the meaning of a short statement can be found in the context.

Craig Powers
3 years 6 months ago

Rama:

The Republican Party (or another third party) will reinvent itself at some point in the future. Just like the Democrats did after their disastrous meltdown in the 80’s. It is also likely that the Democrats will probably begin to have fissures when the extreme left liberals/progressives begin to have their predictable tantrums.

Your second post seems to show your intolerance for “we”. Maybe you should practice what you preach.

3 years 6 months ago
Rama people in glass houses… We have possibly the most unqualified president in this country’s history who uses the race baiting and class warfare to perfection while denigrating all business owners. He has lowered the status of the presidency even more than Clinton did by calling his opponents liars and bullshi**ers and telling voters they need to vote for revenge. Revenge for what? Daring to run against him apparently. As for Biden, the guy is nothing but a buffoon and a source of jokes for comedians. At least Romney and Palin has actual accomplishments on their resumes.
3 years 6 months ago
Keith, I am always baffled when people trot out the line that President Obama is the least qualified person to ever hold the job. He was a US Senator, an effective community organizer, president of the Harvard Law Review. Under his stewardship, corporate profits are at an all-time high; taxes are at a post-war low; we’re getting out of two needless, expensive wars and our society is finally beginning to rid itself of some of its inequality and bigotry. As to his calling for voting for revenge, nice out-of-context try. He was using idiomatic English to his supporters who booed… Read more »
3 years 6 months ago
Darren a community organizer is not exactly the top choice for president, actually probably not even on the list. As for corporate profits being at an all time high, that is pathetic since it is done at the expense of the American worker. As for taxes, wait until Obamacare fully kicks in. You can try and dismiss me as another conservative but I am an independent thinker. The two previous elections I voted for Ralph Nader because he was definitely the most qualified candidate to be president by far even though I don’t totally agree with his liberal ideas.
Walter Carpenter
3 years 6 months ago
“who uses the race baiting and class warfare to perfection while denigrating all business owners. He has lowered the status of the presidency even more than Clinton did by calling his opponents liars and bullshi**ers and telling voters they need to vote for revenge” Keith, give evidence of Obama’s race-baiting, other than how he is Afro-American. Where has he deliberately race-baited? And how has he denigrated business owners or instigated class-warfare any more than has been instigated by the GOP on the national level? It is the GOP on the national level which has been race-baiting, instigating class-warfare, which has… Read more »
3 years 6 months ago
Telling business owners if you’re successful, you didn’t do it. Someone did it for you doesn’t denigrate business owners? Obviously you aren’t one or at least didn’t build it on your own. My wife and I worked hard to build our business and for him to say we can thank the government for our success shows just how stupid he really is when it comes to economics and business. As for the Republicans trying to make him a one term president at the risk of throwing America off the fiscal cliff, do you realize how dumb that sounds? Obama formed… Read more »
Patti Komline
3 years 6 months ago
Wow – it’s easy to sit at your computers and take partisan jabs at each other. These attitudes trickle up and feed the political divide in D.C. Let’s begin with the premise that most of us want to enable Americans to attain certain goals; prosperity, access to good healthcare, financial independence, and freedom to make our own choices (just to name a few of these goals). We need to respectfully understand that we have different ideas on how to get there. If you truly believe your plan is “right”, there is no way you are going to convince those with… Read more »
walter carpenter
3 years 6 months ago
“At least Romney and Palin has actual accomplishments on their resumes.” Ach, forgot to add this question. What were Palin’s accomplishments on her resume? I would not call her mayorship of Wasilla (spelling) or her governorship of Alaska accomplishments since she left both prematurely and resigned from the governorship of Alaska before she was brought up on trial for fraud, if my memory serves me right now. The only thing I can think of is that Palin did manage to connive the oil companies who were exploiting Alaska’s oil reserves and wilderness to put some of their earnings toward Alaska.… Read more »
Jason Farrell
3 years 6 months ago
“Liberals will balk at the idea of budget cuts and conservatives will take a strong stand against increased taxes. Everyone will yell and scream and the politicians will back off making tough decisions because they won’t be re-elected if they do.” On its face, this sounds like great apolitical analysis made by an astute, objective observer. However, here’s a link to the Vermont Legislative Bill Tracking System. Using the helpful online tool, I submitted a query looking for any bills that were sponsored by Representative Patti Komline during the 2011-2012 legislative sessions. I’d encourage you to do the same. http://www.leg.state.vt.us/database/search/search.cfm?Type=R&Session=2012… Read more »
3 years 6 months ago
As long as most Republican party leaders have a knee jerk reflex in opposition to virtually every piece of progressive legislation from social issues to health care to climate change, they will continue to be a shrinking minority. Concerning higher education, as Rilla’s post points out, a university education should produce a knowledgeable, well rounded individual that can think for themselves and has an understanding and interest in various issues, past and present.. That’s why even business and science majors are required to have some exposure to the”Liberal Arts.” The college experience is a lot more than simply learning a… Read more »
3 years 6 months ago
You liberals all defend your chosen ones by ignoring the truth. Look up Palin’s record as governor. It is more impressive than Obama not voting as a senator. Romney is blamed for making money for investors but no one has a problem with the head of Obama’s job creation committe the head of a company that has greatly outsourced more jobs than Romney and whose company used legal means to evade US taxes? As for race baiting, how about his the police acted stupidly comment or his telling a hispanic audience they must punish their enemies? As for your expanation… Read more »
Michael Stevens
3 years 6 months ago
The only thing impressive about Palin’s record is that she managed to avoid going to jail for corruption before abruptly resigning to go on a book tour. That is about as unimpressive as it gets. As for race baiting, the police did act stupidly, after the GOP’s outright attacks on hispanic voters through fascistic papers laws I’m surprised he’s the only one who has pointed that the GOP has made an enemy of this group, and finally the President has every right to tell voters to stop booing and start voting for their opponent. Who the heck gave you the… Read more »
David Bell
3 years 6 months ago
Palin record as governor was completing half a term, making a complete fool of herself on a national stage and then leaving her state in disarray with her departure. Romney’s record was governing his state so badly that he didn’t even bother trying for a second term, knowing his constituents wanted nothing to do with him. Conversely, Obama was a successful Senator who chose to serve his country in the legislature instead of pursuing a very well paying law career. As for race baiting, after Romney getting booed out of the NAACP and then calling the people there a bunch… Read more »
Ralph Colin
3 years 6 months ago
Patti has served her Bennington-Rutland District 1 with great distinction and success. You don’t have to take my word for it; ask her constituents. As Minority Leader, she reached out to all the members of her caucus which has been as divided as the Republican members of the U.S House of Representatives. No easy job, that: Reference Speaker Boehner. Her op-ed commentary is carefully crafted, composed with a great deal of sensible thought and equanimity. Perhaps not everybody’s cup of tea, but most of us don’t like hearing about the tough decisions we all have to make, both “liberals” and… Read more »
Bruce Post
3 years 6 months ago

I don’t know Patti Komline, but I appreciate her efforts, along with Cynthia Browning, Paul Poirier and Chris Pearson, to attempt to have the CVPS windfall paid back to ratepayers. Thanks, Rep. Komline.

Ron Pulcer
3 years 6 months ago
Rep. Komline, While I am also concerned about our economy and jobs, I have a slightly more positive view of what is going on in the U.S. The recovery is happening in the Midwest, and it will come to Vermont … eventually. Vermont lags both in recession and recovery, partly due to our reliance on tourism. I have lived in VT since 1995, leaving the auto industry well before it imploded (I knew it would, … eventually). GM was being run by financial guys, not car guys, i.e. engineers who came up through the ranks). The moving of manufacturing jobs… Read more »
Patrick Bosco
3 years 6 months ago
I find the above conversation fascinating on multiple levels. Starting with the college conversation, “The college experience is a lot more than simply learning a trade.” This may be true, but when many colleges are now north of $50K/year, there has to be some practical conversation as to whether or not the “experience” is worth the cost. The student loan debt in this country is unsustainable, and is likely the next bubble to burst. I have heard stories of lenders going after the cosigners of these loans, often parents nearing retirement. The time is fast coming for a more pragmatic… Read more »
ed fisher
3 years 6 months ago

Here’s what liberal minded economists will seemingly never get ; Reducing taxes AND spending is the only way , The moronic statement that increasing tax revenues to pay for cuts is just that ! Cut spending , cut growth of government ! There is no more credit carding of our national dept allowed !

Dave Bellini
3 years 6 months ago
“Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home–but not for housing. They are strong for labor–but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor minimum wage–the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all–but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine–for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing–but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a… Read more »
walter carpenter
3 years 6 months ago

” You liberals all defend your chosen ones by ignoring the truth. Look up Palin’s record as governor. It is more impressive than Obama not voting as a senator.”

Keith, Sarah Palin resigned her post as governor of Alaska before her term expired. She did so before she may have been forced to resign on ethics charges.

“That is why he allowed 4 Americans to be murdered in Benghazi and has lied and covered the truth repeatedly.”

Do you have proof that Obama deliberately allowed this to happen?

Patrick Cashman
3 years 6 months ago

It should probably be noted that this editorial is not original material, it was first printed in the Bennington Banner on 16 November.

Ron Pulcer
3 years 6 months ago
I do agree to some extent with Rep. Komline’s comment about the practicality of some college majors. My two relatives that found jobs soon after graduation studied education/teaching and business logistics. In regards to education: Here’s another point along the Republican Primary trail where they lost my vote: Rick Santorum. My Santorum called President Obama a “snob” for suggesting that he wanted all children to have the opportunity to attend college (if they so chose). My grandparents were also Italian immigrant’s like Mr. Santorum’s grandparents. Also very strong hard-working people. My parents “might” have been able to afford my college… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 6 months ago
Patti Komline’s basic premise is that the core problem confronting the US economy is the federal government’s deficits and debt. I presume this means that, in her estimation, the economy would be functioning well if the budget were balanced and there were no debt. If that were so, then any number of states would have perfect economies, since few, if any, states are allowed to run long-term deficits. Spain, for example, would be an economic paradise, according to Komline’s thesis, since its government was running surpluses until very recently AND at the same time, 25% unemployment. Consider too that the… Read more »
Walter Carpenter
3 years 6 months ago

“In closing, I would note that I have run a Vermont business since 1975. I built it from scratch, but that doesn’t mean that I built it “myself.”

Great post, John. Thanks so much for showing the link between a successful business, large or small, and the customers who make that business successful, along with the roads the government-sponsored research that made the Internet, and so on:) I have run a business as well.

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