Business & Economy

Special report: Think tank’s ties to Trump raise stakes for Vermont funding

Heritage Foundation
The Washington headquarters of the Heritage Foundation, on Massachusetts Avenue. Photo by Jasper Craven/VTDigger

WASHINGTON — A few blocks from the U.S. Capitol is the headquarters of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that has quickly become the brain trust for President Donald Trump’s White House.

Detailed policy proposals from Heritage are being used whole cloth by the Trump administration, which is largely staffed by novices to government. According to CNN, more than a dozen former Heritage staffers have been directing transitional efforts at numerous federal agencies.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump speaks in Laconia, N.H., in July. File photo by Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons

Trump’s campaign tax plan was drafted by Stephen Moore, a Heritage economist. A number of the president’s priorities — from revoking federal funds for “sanctuary cities” to gagging agency communications with the press — are part of the Heritage playbook. And Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, came from a list of potential justices that Heritage helped draft.

Another critical area where Heritage holds sway is the federal budget process.

Trump’s top two budget men in the White House are both former Heritage wonks: Ross Vought, who was a staffer for Mike Pence back when the vice president was an Indiana congressman, and John Gray, who has worked for budget hawk Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Multiple reports show that as Trump looks to slash federal spending by $10.5 trillion over the next 10 years, he is relying heavily on Heritage’s 2016 “Blueprint for Balance”.

In light of the influence that Heritage has exercised over other Trump decisions, the organization’s blueprint is being studied by bureaucrats from the halls of Washington to the Green Mountains of Vermont for hints of what the future might hold.

The Heritage cuts, if fully implemented, would impact areas that affect the day-to-day lives of everyday Vermonters: air quality, education, free lunch programs in schools, road maintenance and more. Rural farmers and businesses would lose access to grants and loans, and job training programs would dry up. Taken in total, the cuts would fall the hardest on the state’s most vulnerable.

As for the leaders at the Heritage Foundation, the cuts would fulfill major pillars of the organization’s core mission: Reduce the national debt and the role of government.

At the foundation’s 2016 President’s Club Meeting — held at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in December — Heritage President Jim DeMint sounded optimistic that change was quickly coming.

Introducing Pence as the keynote speaker, DeMint began by saying, “I’m trying not to be too giddy tonight.”

“There’s just something really sweet about standing in the Trump hotel, just a few blocks from the White House, introducing a great friend of mine and his wonderful wife, Karen, who are going to be the next vice president couple of the United States,” DeMint said. “It’s very sweet.”

FEDERAL DOLLARS KEEP VERMONT GOING

The stakes for Vermont in the federal budget process are high, because money currently flows to dozens of crucial grant programs and bolsters the work of state agencies.

According to Finance Commissioner Andy Pallito, Vermont is a “net importer” of federal money, meaning it takes more out of the pot than it puts in.

Of the $5.7 billion Vermont budget in fiscal year 2016, roughly 35 percent — or $2.13 billion — consisted of federal dollars. (In addition to grants and subsidies, Vermont received $523.1 million in federal contracts last year.)

The largest single allocation of federal dollars goes to Vermont’s Medicaid program, which received more than $1 billion from Washington in 2016.

Yet federal dollars seep into all aspects of Vermont government. In fiscal 2016, federal money was funneled into 25 state agencies and departments. In addition to large state programs, D.C. dough supported dozens of smaller projects, from the preservation of historic buildings ($671,830) to efforts to make voting locations more accessible to people with disabilities ($38,159).

In fiscal 2016, the most federal grant money in Vermont went to the following areas:

  • Human services: $1.5 billion
    Many of the federal dollars go to Vermont’s neediest and include allocations for Medicaid ($1.1 billion), SNAP food benefits ($118 million), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ($33 million), the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program ($17 million) and weatherization efforts for the poor ($1.2 million).
  • Transportation: $282 million
    Top allocations include highway construction ($227 million), airport improvement programs ($15 million) and rural improvement grants ($14 million).
  • Education: $128 million
    The biggest allocation in this area is in the form of Title I grants for schools in impoverished areas ($33 million). Other federal dollars go to support special education ($27 million), the National School Lunch Program ($23 million) and efforts to improve teacher quality ($10 million).
  • Labor: $91 million
    The biggest allocation for labor is $80 million in unemployment insurance. Other assistance includes money for various job training and career programs for adults ($3 million) and the American Apprenticeship Initiative ($374,000)
  • Natural resources: $44 million
    Nearly $18 million was contributed by the federal government in 2016 to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which helps communities with wastewater treatment infrastructure and clean water programs. Other programs partly funded by the feds include the Forest Legacy Program ($4 million) and sportfish restoration efforts ($3 million), as well as many more air and water quality efforts.
  • Housing and community development: $24 million
    More than $20 million was contributed by the federal government for community development block grants, which help build everything from senior housing facilities to local libraries. An additional $420,000 went toward technical assistance for businesses, while $550,000 funded various brownfield cleanup sites.

Pallito said Trump’s budget process “doesn’t seem to be very coherent,” adding that he assumed some programs were going to face cuts but there was no certainty over which ones. He said he was optimistic that Republican states that rely on federal assistance would push back on any draconian cuts.

Pallito said the state has set aside roughly $133 million of reserve money that could be deployed in the case of major cuts and that programs for Vermont’s neediest would be prioritized. About $100 million is from Medicaid overpayments from the federal government that may need to be repaid as part of a liability that has not yet been resolved.

Roughly one-third of the state’s $133 million in reserves would also qualify for federal match money, as long as the federal government does not alter or eliminate the reimbursement formula for Medicaid and other human services programs.

“We’ve tried to put ourselves in a position where we could sustain cuts in the future,” Pallito said. “But we don’t have nearly the level of money we need for long-term base cuts, so we would have to make some cuts at the state level if something major were to transpire.”

Asked if he was willing to push his boss, Republican Gov. Phil Scott, to reconsider his pledge not to raise taxes or fees if big federal cuts came, Pallito said, “He’s pretty serious about the pledge.”

“Part of my measured approach in all of this is not freaking my boss out until the time comes,” he continued. “When we really need him to react, we will have him react.”

Heritage Foundation
A banner on the side of the Heritage headquarters in Washington. Photo by Jasper Craven/VTDigger

POTENTIALLY AT RISK: LAW ENFORCEMENT

The Hill reported in January that the administration was considering adopting a number of the Heritage Foundation’s recommended cuts, including the 24 Department of Justice grant programs that assist victims of sexual abuse.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has fought to strengthen these grant programs throughout his career, including in the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Following The Hill report, Leahy sent out a statement maligning the shadow work of Heritage.

“The Heritage Foundation may set priorities for the far right in Congress, but it does not set priorities for the rest of America,” said Leahy, who received a 7 percent approval rating on the last Heritage congressional scorecard. “The Violence Against Women Act has a proven track record protecting women and the victims of abuse. If the president-elect outsources his budget to the far right he will be doubling down against women who have survived abuse. I will fight against any attempt to undermine a law that has saved lives and enabled victims to rebuild their lives.”

The elimination of Violence Against Women Act programs would have wide-ranging ramifications in Vermont.

Karen Tronsgard-Scott. Photo by Alicia Freese
Karen Tronsgard-Scott. File photo by Alicia Freese/VTDigger

In October, Leahy announced more than $9 million in federal grants to aid victims of domestic violence all across the Green Mountain State. These federal grants fund transitional housing in St. Albans for victims of sexual violence, counseling for battered LGBTQ youth in Chittenden County, and wraparound services for children in the Northeast Kingdom who are exposed to domestic violence. Federal grant money also underwrites legal representation for victims of sexual violence and even offers rehabilitative services for abusers.

“We are really worried about the loss of these funds, and for survivors losing access to services and safety,” said Karen Tronsgard-Scott, the executive director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “These are lifesaving programs.”

The Justice Department reported that the rate of sexual violence against women fell 64 percent in the decade after VAWA was first passed, an achievement Tronsgard-Scott warned could be squandered by defunding the 24 grant programs.

“This funding is absolutely needed for us to continue to make inroads,” she said. “It’s allowed us to focus on intervening before things get really dangerous, or even lethal.”

TRANSPORTATION

Should the Heritage Foundation plan be fully implemented, Amtrak would lose all federal support.

This would likely result in Vermont’s already limited train service being diminished. Ticket prices could rise. And the defunding could also imperil plans for restored train service between Vermont and Montreal, as a key line of track from St. Albans to Canada requires repair.

The Essential Air Service program would also be scrapped. This federal subsidy program helps connect smaller airports, like the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport, to larger airports. If the service were eliminated, Rutland’s commercial flights would likely cease.

Dairy farms
Milking time on a Vermont farm. File photo by Josh Larkin/VTDigger

RURAL ECONOMY AND AGRICULTURE

The Heritage blueprint calls for the elimination of a number of programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that are implemented in Vermont, including the Conservation Technical Assistance Program, which costs $748 million annually. Vermont receives roughly $300,000 annually under this program, which is run by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The conservation assistance program helps farmers operate more effectively and sustainably. Without any cost to the farmer, USDA officials help those in the agriculture industry develop skills to improve the long-term sustainability of lands, through efforts to reduce erosion and improve soil and water health.

These assistance efforts help landowners comply with various federal laws, including the Conservation Compliance Provisions of the l985 Food Security Act

Linda Corse, who milks 60 cows on her 301-acre farm in Whitingham, said Conservation Technical Assistance Program officials have been crucial to ensuring the farm follows federal regulations. She said the program could use even more support, since there aren’t enough engineers and experts to help all the farmers in the region.

“The technical expertise of the USDA — when they have enough staff — is invaluable to us,” she said. “We can’t begin to keep up with all the current data and the regulations without them, and it would be very hard to have any of that funding cut.”

Another USDA program Heritage wants to cut is the Rural Utilities Service, which has provided grants to help Vermont build up infrastructure throughout rural areas, from telephone service to water treatment. The internet provider VTel is one of the largest beneficiaries of federal funds from the Rural Utilities Service.

Another USDA program Heritage hopes to nix is the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, which offers grants in Vermont and other states — ranging from $10,000 to $500,000 — to businesses with fewer than 50 employees in rural areas.

The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which is a wing of the Treasury Department, is another loan option for rural businesses that is on Heritage’s chopping block.

In 2016, the CDFI Fund gave three large grants to Vermont entities: the Vermont Community Loan Fund ($1.25 million), the Flexible Capital Fund L3C ($700,000) and Rutland West Neighborhood Housing Services ($500,00).

ENVIRONMENT

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources relies heavily on federal support to carry out its environmental work. The agency receives 40 percent of its funding from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Tens of millions of dollars supported environmental cleanup in 2016, on everything from cleanup grants for brownfield sites ($554,000) to aquatic plant control ($450,000).

In Trump’s first week, the White House ordered a freeze on all federal EPA grants, a move that alarmed Julie Moore, the secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources.

Although the freeze has since been lifted, Moore saw the move “as a harbinger of things to come.”

Emily Proctor Trail sign
A trail sign in the Green Mountain National Forest.

The Heritage proposal calls for the end of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. There have been recent attempts by Republicans to eliminate the fund, which has brought in a total of $123 million to support conservation efforts for the Green Mountain National Forest, the Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge and the Appalachian Trail.

The blueprint also calls for hobbling environmental programs across the country, including the elimination of all green energy subsidies, which could slow economic growth in Vermont’s burgeoning green energy sector.

Heritage also proposes to eliminate the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which recently funded a 66-kilowatt solar project in Williston. The pilot project allows for DOE studies on how to improve solar performance in harsh conditions.

Moore said her agency found the Heritage plan “disturbing,” especially for a state like Vermont where a clean environment is crucial to a healthy economy.

“There’s a number of ideas in there that would certainly reduce cost and reduce regulatory burden, but at the direct expense of the environment,” she said. “In the long term it wouldn’t save all that much money as we would have to remediate and address the problems that were created. Prevention has been the most effective way to reduce environmental contamination.”

In addition to the Heritage proposals, congressional Republicans have made it easier to privatize federal lands and are rolling back a number of environmental regulations that reined in pollution from the oil and gas industries. In early February, a freshman Republican House member introduced a largely symbolic bill aimed at eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency.

ARTS AND MEDIA

Heritage’s proposed cuts would weaken support for Vermont artists. The blueprint would eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, which gave $600,000 to Vermont last year to support the state’s community of artists. Trump also supports the privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which, according to its most recent financial report, allocated $1.7 million in 2014 to subsidize four public access stations in Vermont, including the Vermont PBS affiliate. The CPB also provides grants to 17 radio stations across the state, including Vermont Public Radio.

Footings and some structural parts of the historic Taftsville covered bridge were damaged by Irene. It's being restored but won't reopen until sometime in 2013. Photo by Andrew Nemethy
The historic Taftsville covered bridge after Tropical Storm Irene. File photo by Andrew Nemethy

DISASTER RELIEF

The Heritage proposal would slash spending at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including at the Disaster Relief Fund, which provided more than $200 million to Vermont after Tropical Storm Irene. Heritage also proposes cuts to the Small Business Administration Disaster Loans Program, which loaned money to 80 ailing Green Mountain businesses after the storm gutted many downtown economies.

The blueprint would also eliminate FEMA fire grants, which have funded, among other things, gym equipment for the Colchester Fire Department and a thermal imaging camera for the Williston Fire Department.

DEFENSE SPENDING

Defense funding may be the only area where Vermont could see an uptick in federal dollars, as the president has promised “a great rebuilding of the armed forces.”

Still, while Vermont does have some industrial manufacturing, the state ranks last in the federal contracts it receives. A 2014 Defense Department report on state-by-state spending also shows that federal military contracts are disproportionately awarded to Chittenden County over more struggling areas of the state. In 2014, for example, Chittenden County received $166 million in defense dollars, more than 50 times as much as Caledonia County received, $3.3 million.

In recent years, a number of military contractors have laid off workers or shuttered plants in Vermont. L-3 KEO, a Massachusetts-based company that makes weapons control systems, shut down its Brattleboro plant in January.

Patrick Leahy
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., at a recent Senate committee meeting. Photo by Jasper Craven/VTDigger

BUDGET WORK IN WASHINGTON

While Vermont’s federal funding may be in peril, the state’s two senators both hold key positions on fiscal committees.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, is the top member of the minority on the Senate Budget Committee, which considers the president’s budget before submitting its own proposal.

Sanders’ office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the budget process, how cuts could affect Vermonters and what role he planned to play to stop them.

After the budget committees hammer out broad funding levels, the House and Senate Appropriations committees craft detailed legislation appropriating money in 12 major areas, from agriculture to foreign aid.

Leahy is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and aides say the committee is traditionally the least partisan on Capitol Hill. Leahy is close with Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss. The two recently collaborated on the Farm to School Act of 2015, which would have allowed for more local agriculture to be implemented in school lunch programs.

Leahy’s appropriation aides have been eyeing the Heritage proposal with alarm and say that a top priority of Vermont’s senior senator will be to protect important domestic programs while fighting huge increases in defense spending.

The fight by Democrats to save dozens of discretionary programs will be coupled by an expected push by Republicans to raise the retirement age and reduce mandatory spending on entitlement programs like Medicaid and Medicare through switching to block grants. (The biggest cost-cutting measure in the Heritage plan is block-granting Medicaid with fixed dollar amounts that don’t respond directly to a state’s needs.)

Leahy’s spokesman, David Carle, said that with so many programs in danger, Trump was continuing his effective political tactic of overloading the system.

“You can’t fight every fight,” Carle said. “You have to pick and choose because there is limited time and limited resources.”

As the ranking member on Appropriations, Leahy is also vested with oversight powers to ensure that federal money is allocated effectively. These powers were set forth in the the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act, which was passed after President Richard Nixon copiously invoked his impoundment powers to bar the Department of Treasury from transferring congressionally appropriated funds to various agencies.

“There are very specific requirements, in law, that when we appropriate money the executive branch has to execute those appropriations,” said a top Leahy Appropriations aide, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press. “Leahy’s staff will be tracking very closely to see whether the Trump administration decides to (flout) the law by not, for example, spending money on climate change that’s been appropriated for climate change.”

Leahy staffers contended that the Heritage plan would not pass the Republican-controlled Congress. In 2015, when Republicans in the House introduced a budget proposal filled with Heritage language, it was rejected by a vote of 294 to 132. (One member who voted for the plan was Mick Mulvaney, who is now Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget.)

The top Leahy aide, who has worked for nearly 40 years in the appropriations process, said the total elimination of federal programs is politically disastrous. Precise cuts with a significant impact are much easier for legislators to swallow, the staffer said.

“What I generally find in these situations is that, instead of shuttering programs, you hurt programs, because there generally is bipartisan support for that,” the aide said. “If you set a top line on spending for discretionary programs — that’s a 5 percent cut. Those are cuts that have consequences across the board. You are not investing in special education, you are not investing in education for the disadvantaged, you are not investing in highway programs or transit programs or housing programs or rural development programs.”

“Rather than having headline-grabbing terminations of programs, every agency just takes it on the chin,” the aide concluded.

Correction: The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund was not the recipient of CDFI funding. Funding went to the VSJF Flexible Capital Fund L3C, a separate for-profit entity.

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Jasper Craven

About Jasper

Jasper Craven is VTDigger’s political reporter. A Vermont native, he first discovered his love for journalism at the Caledonian Record. He double-majored in print journalism and political science at Boston University, and worked in the Boston Globe’s Metro and Investigative units. While at the Globe he collaborated on Shadow Campus, a three-part investigative series focused on greed and mismanagement in Boston’s off-campus student housing market. The series was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize.
He also spent two years at MuckRock, a news sited dedicated to investigation and analysis of government documents. 

Craven covered Vermont’s U.S. Congressional delegation for the Times Argus in the summer of 2014, and worked as a Metro reporter for the Chicago Tribune before joining the staff of VTDigger.

Email: [email protected]

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  • Welcome to the national Republican Party dream – take everything WE as a nation built and turn into THEIR financial profit. In the process trample on people’s rights; destroy our only source of food, water, air and shelter (aka the physical environment); send others off to fight their fights; buy off police and military constituencies; ignore science; and worse.

    Bannon-Trump and the Heritage Foundation as an organization are nothing more then useful tools.

    • Neil Johnson

      Wow, Rama, you and your party built the entire thing, the rest of the nation did nothing? Seriously? Nobody for 200 years made any contributions? You do know which party was for abolishing slavery? Are you suggesting that half the Citizens in the United States want to ruin our country?

      The teachings of Saul Alinsky state; you must divide before you can gain power and money, is this your plan? Apparently there are two types of Democrats, the ole Kennedy crew, that could work with Republicans, asked what can you do for your country and the Alinsky Democrats, which are about division and what can you give me. We have sell out Republicans and traditional.

      We need to come together as a nation, a state. The Kennedy Democrats and traditional Republicans need to work together. The other two groups are hell bent on stuffing their pockets, creating division and ruining our nation.

      • Phil Greenleaf

        Your criticism of Alinsky is very uninformed. If the “traditional republicans” had organizers like Alinsky you might not be stuck with Trump as your party champion! And by the way, it’s not that the half the citizens you mention “want” to ruin the country, it’s just that uninformed voting tends to look like that. Maybe someday we’ll get to the point where the voodoo stops working, until then, keep reading Alinsky a little more closely and put down the silly Ayn Rand for crying out loud.

        • Neil Johnson

          Haven’t read Ayn Rand. Please tell me where I’m off base on Alinsky? These tactics do nothing to build our country, used by democrats or republicans, the only reason is to gain power and money. Please inform me, reading the book made me realize it is the road map for our dysfunctional government. “Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-nots on how to take it away.” A Direct quote on Page 3 opening chapter on Purpose…..I’d love to discuss this, it is not I who is uninformed, but the American public, I felt so ignorant that I hadn’t read it years ago.

          • Dan DeCoteau

            Neil, Phil and Robert appear to be serial posters for everything liberal. As if Alinsky isn’t the hero of the progressive left. Hillary studied his leadership and even wrote her thesis on his writings. Another one of his practicing disciples was Barack Obama the well known community organizer from Chicago, which was also the home of Bill Ayers famous for his bombings of federal property and good buddy of Barry.

          • Phil Greenleaf

            I read Alinsky to be working toward maintaining a toehold in the system for the disenfranchised. That sometimes looks and feels militant but without those tactics voting disenfranchisement would be even worse than it is today. Organization around voting and labor are 2 of the few toeholds left to some communities. I don’t think the system was built to incorporate all so struggle is mandatory. If you haven’t read Rand, don’t start now.

          • Neil Johnson

            Chicago is the poster child for Alinsky organizers. You’ll note the power and money hasn’t gone to the disenfranchised, it’s no coincidence it’s part of the plan. Alinsky will never be considered in the same breath as John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandella or any other real leader and champion of the poor. Why? Because he’s a common thief and con artist. He’s not for bringing actual change, just making money and making an stir.

          • Phil Greenleaf

            Well that certainly is how the Tea party used Alinsky’s rhetoric and systems! Corruption is undefendable across the board and if there are cases of graft we should call them out. At the same time we should not throw out the quality of the system with the offenders. “Making a stir” is a damned good practice and one we wouldn’t have a democracy without, if you recall. The con-artists are those that twist the principle to aggrandize themselves and gain power on the backs of the poor (read fake populists – not Alinsky). In Chicago the power and money obviously followed the corporations as they fled to the suburbs…not the fault of community organizers. I do agree with your sentiment on King and Mandella (interestingly they were both tainted with scandal as well if you’ll recall). No one’s perfect Neil. If there was a codified moral standard we wouldn’t be having these discussions would we?

          • Neil Johnson

            Who’s running the town? Corporations don’t form the government. Chicago is corrupt. Chicago is like a third world drug culture, did the corporations do that? Making a stir is making a stir, apparently stirring for 50 years gets you this. There is an extreme difference between an Alinsky Democrat and a Kennedy Democrat, one actually wants a better country, the other just wants power and money. Most don’t know the difference and that is the sad part/

          • Phil Greenleaf

            Corporations have everything to do with the tax base Neil. Have you heard of white flight?

    • Dan DeCoteau

      How about coming up with solutions instead of bashing your political enemies . We as a nation built a $20 trillion debt of which more than $10 trillion came from 8 years of the Obama administration. Your hysterics about the republicans is BS and nothing more than worn out liberal talking points. Nothing you said above is true and you know it. It doesn’t work anymore! .

      • Phil Greenleaf

        The only thing “worn out” in this debate is the fallacious insistency on cheap fake austerity spouted by Johnson and DeCocteau et al. If there was ever a worn ideology it is the smoke and mirrors economics that proposes to “lower taxes”, rebuild the military (as if it was depleted), and “return” jobs (they are not coming back folks – time, profitability and tech evolution have seen to that). The only thing I can agree with Dan D. on is that we should be coming up with solutions (outside the box and progressive please) rather than bashing – but as long as folks are going to drag out the carcasses of rotting ideas a little bashing will get us through. Rama’s comments sound more like a well studied critique than hysterics. If anything is hysterical (in more ways than one) these days it is the regressive desire to demonize dissent and blame the poor for economic hardships nationwide.

        • Dan DeCoteau

          How much austerity do you think will come from the government when the potential 150 trillion in unfunded debt finally reaches it’s breaking point? Right now billions of dollars are paid out on the debt while more debt is piled on. So the progressive solution is spend more on programs because the feds will pick up the tab? How long would the average family last if each year they spent 35% more than they earned? When the big bubble breaks in DC the austerity that will come with it will be worse than anything we’ve seen yet. Ignoring the problem and refusing to stare reality in the face because progressives think it doesn’t matter is just what we see the government in Vermont doing now. Kicking the can over to Washington DC where the real debt is, now that’s a brilliant plan!

          • Phil Greenleaf

            You missed the point Dan – it of course is a bad idea to “kick the can down the road” but that is not what progressives are saying now nor for decades. The issue is priorities. “Rebuilding” a military that already is undeniably the world’s most lethal and sound fighting force is a farce. Reagan/Bush/Bush (with a little of Clinton and Obama in there much as you’d like to deny it) pulled that one on the country and big military and high tech profited and only sometimes shared. If every corporation paid fair tax rates then we might be in a better spot but as you know the vast majority of poor poor corporations that are supposed to pay 35 percent get around that to the tune of billions of unpaid taxes. Lowering tax rates on those that already cheat the system is another farce. Creative jobs programs (probably involving infrastructure) are the proven way to go. But don’t watch Trump for any creativity that will help the people. His ideas will line cronies pockets and end up in corruption scandals. Trickle down, voodoo, baloney sandwiches foisted on the “people” are shown to work only in that enough uninformed voters fall for it again and again; but it’s economic rubbish. Let’s bring back the unpaid tax money that businesses are hiding first before we put another austere chokehold on the folks who can’t profit (through no fault of their own)from our glorious capitalist system. What’s your plan other than just the traditional conservative whining about “spending”. Again, it’s what we spend on that gets us in trouble.

          • Dan DeCoteau

            We will just have to agree to disagree. I’m not a wealthy man but whatever I have I earned it. Your socialist view is not consistent with mine. By the way Bill Clinton didn’t balance anything including paying down the national debt. It was the 1994 Republican take over of congress that forced Clinton to come to the middle and reform welfare as well as his bloated budgets. That was a nice attempt at rewriting history though.

          • Phil Greenleaf

            Ok. We probably do have to agree to disagree for the most part, but I wasn’t defending Clinton on anything. Don’t know where you got that. In fact I was lumping him in with Bushes and Reagan on military industrial complex cronyism. I agree his motives were suspect all along. In fact you just restated a comment I made about him related to another story. Democratic party needs to stay well left of anything he professed.

            Don’t know why you disagree with rounding up corporate tax cheats before we make any decisions. Seems like the absolute firmest way to gain revenue and reassure workers that they aren’t forgotten. I do represent as Socialist and for the most part it is related to domestic labor organization (huge missing piece of the GNP puzzle). Until we meet again…

    • Jon Corrigan

      How are the police and military constituencies bought off?

      • Money and special privileges.

        • Jon Corrigan

          Special privileges like trying to get a VA appointment before you die?

        • Neil Johnson

          Interestingly, neither side in Vermont wants a strong ethics committee, making one believe there is money and special privileges for all but the tax payers.

  • This caption says it all, “FEDERAL DOLLARS KEEP VERMONT GOING”.
    For a moment, I almost believed Vermont’s Legislative policies kept the state running and not a trust fund.
    I enjoyed most the caption “POTENTIALLY AT RISK:”; what isn’t at risk this days?

  • wendywilton

    Maybe it’s time for the US congress to stop spending, pay attention to the debt that has acrued, and make us all less reliant on federal funding. 35% of VT’s budget revenues come from the Feds. This puts VT in a precarious position.

    VT lawmakers could actually use some of the Heritage Foundation advice. The legislature funds many non-profits to the point they receive almost exclusively state funding and there is little transparency about the uses of the money or the efficacy of the programs. There is constant complaint there is not enough money feeding state government and our revenues have needed downgrades in projection for the last several years. Yet, we keep piling on the expenses, not sure how these demands will be funded. We have spent beyond the economic growth of the state for too long. That is the reality, which This article has ignored.

    This VT Digger piece seems very one-sided. The federal government does not owe any state the right to draw enormous amounts from the US treasury to stay afloat. But that is exactly the dependency that has resulted from our political bent for at least the last decade.

    • Steve Baker

      You will never hear the other side of the coin (no pun intended). Will there ever be an article for cutting waste, fraud, duplication and corruption in State Government? An outline for slightly bending the spending curve?

    • Gail Graham

      Very well stated Wendy, and SO true.

  • bobstannard

    Elections have consequences and we’re about to find out just what that means.

    • Renée Carpenter

      Friendly amendment here, please: FRAUDULENT elections have consequences…. (hint: why were so many Republican operatives impeding the vote recounts initiated by Jill Stein in the swing states? Answer: Accurate hand-counted recounts likely would have documented electronic voting machine tampering)

  • John McClaughry

    To put this left wing horror report into perspective, note that the ratio of Federal debt owed to the public – now approaching $20 Trillion – to GDP went from 63% at Obama’s inauguration to 105% today – well past the danger benchmark for governments heading toward insolvency. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GFDEGDQ188S
    Hyperactive spenders like Leahy and Sanders have an insatiable demand for
    things that Washington ought to shower upon an endless list of worthy recipients, plus
    filling the Federal money pipeline that gives Vermont goodies that Montpelier
    doesn’t have to make Vermonters pay state taxes for. To borrow a term from the
    terror-stricken Left, this is completely unsustainable, as our children and
    grandchildren are bound to discover, probably sooner than later.

    • Pam Ladds

      And what we save can be used to support Trump’s life style, jaunts to his mega properties and his family arrangements.

    • John, please – Obama put all of Bush’s wars on the books, came in after major economic meltdown, and had to deal with a Republican Party who’s primary message was “nothing Obama is for will pass”.

      And the Repubs wouldn’t even allow our federal government more tax revenues to help pay off all the pent up Bush debt the Repubs were hiding (until a Democrat came into the Oval Office).

      “Hypoactiveness” is not the solution.

      The solution at the federal level is in reduced spending coupled with increased tax revenues.

      • John McClaughry

        I’ll meet you halfway, Rama – the reduced spending part.

      • Neil Johnson

        Was there ANY compromise on ACA? Was there any compromise on most any proposal? Are you familiar with the Rules for Radicals? Can demonstrate where President Obama did not use any of the tactics? Are you one who supports the ideals instilled by Saul Alinsky? Do you think these tactics will better America?

        • Truth be told – I never heard of “Rules for Radicals” or Saul Alinski until the anti-Obama crew started incessantly screaming about the two.

    • Robert Lehmert

      You contention is belied by 1) the sources of the accumulated Federal deficits, (Clinton left W. Bush as balanced budget) which were flat when George W. Bush took office and proceeded to enact a series of historically large tax cuts primarily benefiting high income taxpayers; 2) invaded Iraq and Afghanistan without paying for. As you know, Barrack Obama took office at a time when the financial solvency of key banks was dangerously stressed. At that time he took office, you may recall that commercial credit was nearly impossible to get and business was grinding to a halt. Job recovery began almost immediately after the Recovery Act was enacted. It is seriously misplaced to blame deficits on Obama. In fact, annual budget deficits have fallen steadily as the economy recovered. Meanwhile, I’d like you to dig up and present some evidence that the huge deficits run up to benefit our “job creators” actually benefited the economy by creating jobs in numbers high enough to justify the size of the give-away. Certainly, that’s not been the experience of Kansas under Brownback. Care to comment?

    • Renée Carpenter

      Let’s see: John McClaughry, founder of Vermont’s Ethan Allen Institute. If I’m remembering correctly, the Heritage Foundation identified in this article as being behind austerity retractions of funding public services (nationwide, in addition to Vermont) was a KEY FUNDER that helped launch the Ethan Allen Institute. Are they still a major funder (or are current funding sources being more discreet)? Geesh!

      • Robert Lehmert

        Let’s hear it for honest, old-fashioned disclosure!

      • John McClaughry

        Heritage never gave EAI a dime. I look forward to your abject apology.

    • Robert Lehmert

      Your numbers are way off. Source?

  • Robert Lehmert

    Thank you for this detailed overview of the Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Balance” and its potential impact of Vermont. It’s hard to fully visualize what such massive cuts would accomplish in a state like Vermont, other than to assume a significant spike in mortality and morbidity especially among the poor, undriveable roads and collapsing bridges, hungry children, collapsing public education systems and job training, pollution, and farmers selling off their land. I would expect a significant uptick in domestic violence, alcoholism, opioid addiction and suicide. Based on my limited knowledge of economics, I wonder about the impact of sucking out much of the $2,600 million of Federal funds that annually flow into Vermont, especially in view of contingency reserves of only $133 million. Coming at the same time that the age of Vermont’s average citizen is getting older, and the young are drawn to schools and jobs elsewhere, This seems like a blueprint for dystopia. I wonder who thinks they would benefit.

    • Steve Baker

      Is Vermont unable to stand on their own two feet? When will they be able too? Why continue to subsidize our inability to fund our own financial ignorance?

      • Robert Lehmert

        Put on your Harry Potter coat and grab your wand, Steve. I think you’ll need to start with our terrain and work your way through our lack of industrial development and aging population. Wishing does not make it so. Dogma does not make it so.

        • Steve Baker

          Notice no answers. Ask yourself Why we have no industry and a population, especially young educated that is leaving the state.
          So your dogma is to just continue to dig a deeper and deeper financial hole with no regard to how we pay for it, just tax people more, and more, and more.

        • Dan DeCoteau

          The dogma seems to be coming from you. The government has no money, the government has funded programs beyond it’s duty as granted in the constitution, the government spends billions on debt service on the $20 trillion dollars it has borrowed because of poor management and an endless taxable pot known once as the middle class. Much of the unfunded bonds and retirement trust funds are still obligations of the federal government. So the dogma that you’re spewing does what to solve the problem? The debt is unsustainable! Your two numbers above amount to 20 trillion dollars. Social Security is paid by current workers and is slated to also be unsustainable at current rates. Ignoring the numbers will not make them go away.

          • Robert Lehmert

            “the government has funded programs beyond it’s [sic] duty as granted in the constitution” —> citation? Litigated and settled.

            “the government spends billions on debt service on the $20 trillion dollars” —> $14.3 billion on November 7, 2016

            ” it has borrowed because of poor management” –> that’s a pretty broad statement. I would allow the war Iraq as an example, but not, for example, the FDIC or the amounts required by the Social Security Trust fund. World War II was optional, i guess. I guess you could live without I-89 and the ret of the interstates, airports, hospitals, universities, and other institutions.

            “Much of the unfunded bonds and retirement trust funds are still obligations of the federal government.” —> It’s hard to tell what you mean by “unfunded bonds”. The problems with Social Security are political as much as financial. Simply removing the cap on earnings base would solve most of the problem. It needs attention but is in fact the largest and most sucessful social insurance program in history. For tens of millions of beneficiaries, it keeps them from a life of misery and early death. For a full one-third of retirees it is the ONLY source of retirement income.

            You repeat old “says and tales” that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

          • Steve Baker

            Is Vermont unable to stand on their own two feet?

    • Dan DeCoteau

      The reverse is actually true or should be. The more Vermont relies on the federal government the more Vermont goes in the hole. The free spending politicians on the left have accumulated massive debt with no one to pay for it. Enter the US government that is already $20,000,000,000,000.00 in debt. Yes that’s 20 trillion dollars. At this point it doesn’t matter who was responsible for this debt the fact is that it’s unsustainable. The government has even stolen the social security trust fund and every other fund available to them. So just where does this end? Perhaps one way is to look at getting back to some form of reality which includes not spending more than you have to spend.

      • Gail Graham

        I agree with you Dan, and was thinking the same while reading this article. Most of us are aware of Federal over spending, but reading this ALL at once___WOW!

      • Robert Lehmert

        To be accurate, on November 7, 2016, debt held by the public was $14.3 trillion or about 76% of the previous 12 months of GDP. An addition $5.4 trillion is intragovernmental obligations, which represent the Trust funds held for Social Security, Medicare, and various pension obligations. The largest single holder of the debt (beside intragovernmental obligations) are US citizens, corporations, pension plans, and other institutions. If there were zero debt, the US government would need to accumulate funds for its obligations in other places, which would mean setting aside accumulated funds in private bonds and stocks. That would make the US government a major factor in investment markets, which some might construe as a characteristic of socialism.

  • Forbes Morrell

    And that is only the beginning! Keep trashing the president and see just how far the hurt can go!

    • Robert Lehmert

      What does this mean?

  • Bob Moyer

    States such as Vermont, New York, other New England and West Coast states, which retain sane State governors and legislatures, have a simple, painless solution: simply adjust state taxes to recover lost Federal funding. Since presumably the draconian federal program cuts would result in lower Federal taxes, the result to the individual taxpayer should be a wash.

    • Dan DeCoteau

      What is sane about having to bilk the American taxpayer out of 35% of the Vermont state budget. All state governments have created monster programs that continue to haunt working Americans. When does reality set in? There is nothing sane about the Vermont legislature when they spend more time worrying about Trump’s immigration policies than the fact that Vermonters can no longer afford to live here? They should all be fired or get to work and solve the problems of affordability for Vermonters, reign in social programs and learn to abide by our state constitution.

    • Robert Lehmert

      Bob – don’t be lazy — shows us the math! 600,000 citizens (including children, older folks, etc. — “whatever”) making up a $5 billion +/- loss. That’s $8,333 for every man woman and child in the state. Get out the Harry Potter wand and pointy hat and show us some magic. Otherwise, nature may reclaim Vermont.

  • Steve Baker

    Lets not talk about the Center for American Progress and Campaign for America’s
    Future who were Obamas welfare think tanks advocating taxing the productive workers to pay for more bloated government programs. That’s a narrative not to be discussed because of the left side of the aisle.

    When you’re a debtor welfare State (fact) as Vermont as become, you need to be careful. We’ve been cashing checks out of of States Bank account.
    Vermont’s bank account is and has been overdrawn for years. The liberal progressives don’t care about financial facts, we keep on taxing and spending….despite 35%+ of the budget being funded by the Feds.

    Look at it from a fairness standpoint. Why should some States have to pay for Vermont’s continued fiscal incompetence?

  • Renée Carpenter

    I’m agreeing with Robert Lehmert, with appreciation “for this detailed overview of the Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Balance” and its potential impact of Vermont.” One serious omission is the description of what the Heritage Foundation is, who they represent. The Center for Media & Democracy fills us in:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Heritage_Foundation

    “Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing think tank. Its stated mission is to formulate and promote public policies based on the principles of “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”[1-ties to the Koch Brothers] … Its initial funding was provided by Joseph Coors, of the Coors beer empire, and Richard Mellon Scaife, heir of the Mellon industrial and banking fortune…” i.e. NOT in the Public Interest.

    Following the footnote: “David and Charles (Koch)… are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN)”

    • Roxane McKinley Blake

      All think tanks have bias- need to be aware of what it is and whose “interests ” they have in mind- follow their money.

  • Kyle Williams

    This reminds me of the sky is falling mentality that swept the nation with the 2013 Budget Sequestration. That seemed to come and go without anyone’s notice as far as I can tell.

  • Arithmetic is the same whether you are on the left or the right. The federal debt has climbed to levels beyond that which humans are able to grasp on an intuitive level so, it’s easy to simply pretend it doesn’t exist especially if acknowledging it means making hard choices.. the Heritage Foundation is simply taking the position that we are at the point where letting the pendulum swing any further would be the height of irresponsibility. Doing so within the context of their political and moral belief system isn’t a surprise. Perhaps they’re right, perhaps not. However, I think most people would agree that each of us being responsible for roughly $55,000 apiece for the national debt isn’t an optimum situation. Also, Vermont is a small State that has been a net importer of federal dollars so, by all rights our indebtedness should be even greater.

    The real problem here is the tendency for those who disagree with each other about policie to ascribe to it some sort of ill intent. The resulting shouting match between the left and the right does no one any good and drowns out any hope for measured compromise and cooperation. If we keep this up we will wind up in a 2nd Civil War. We think things are bad now?

    • David Bell

      If Heritage was even vaguely interested in addressing the deficit they would be advocating for higher, rather than lower taxes.

      What Heritage does is what it typically does. Advocate for lower taxes on the wealthy combined with savage cuts to programs that benefit the poor; they just do by presenting the transparent veneer of “fiscal responsibility”, claiming they would never wish to deliberately harm the poor, but darn it that debt needs to go down; and if the poor suffer than so be it.

      • Steve Baker

        The Feds have extorted a record amount of Tax Revenue over the past 4 years…Where has that gotten us? When you’re in a hole (federal and state) stop digging.

        • David Bell

          Extorted? You might want to check on the definition of that word.

          And by “digging” you mean increasing revenue to reduce the deficit you seem to have an issue with?

          • Steve Baker

            ex·tort
            1. obtain (something) by force, threats, or other unfair means: synonyms: force, extract, exact, wring, wrest, screw, squeeze, obtain by threat(s),
            We are digging a deep hole both federally and in this state. The Feds continue to rake in record amounts of revenue and it’s still not enough. It will Never be enough because politicians aren’t smart enough to solve problems, they and you just want to throw money at it.

          • David Bell

            Wow, you actually think taxes fall under this definition?

            Do you believe employers are being “extorted” into not sexually harassing employees as well?

            And again, unless you plan on reducing spending far ore than taxes, you are not doing squat to reduce the debt you claim to care about.

            How about volunteering all government programs you benefit from for the chopping block?

          • Neil Johnson

            I’ve worked on many Condo Associations, Churches, and businesses, with some really smart people. But I have to say very, very few know how to get by with less. But the normal working person, more so if they are from a big family can do 2x more with the same amount of money. People are TERRIFIED to cut or reallocate funds. They say they can’t get by, too much hardship.

            But I ask, how many on fuel assistance have one person in a house or apartment? Why don’t they get a room mate? Problems solved, no state money involved. Older people could use some company.

            Single Moms, how about they share a place? Then you have someone to help, built in baby sitter for each other. That just saved 50% of the budget. You could cut by 40% and give each 5% more, it would be win-win. This is what people that don’t go on public assistance do to make ends meet.

            Ethics commission saves $250 Million
            Using Vermont Health Connect for teacher with no deductible could save $182.5 million
            Let people start collecting unemployment after the first 30 days. (use their savings instead of tax payers) and you save huge money.

            There are so many creative, reasonable ways to save it’s amazing. Yet nobody…nobody, wants to even consider.

          • Steve Baker

            David, I’m all for cutting spending at the State and Federal levels. I’d go back to 2010 spending levels then work off zero base budgeting.

          • Neil Johnson

            It’s always amazing, some how we were able to get things done on a 2001 budget, but suddenly we can’t do this despite things being more effective and efficient. Yet the world would collapse if we tried to do what we easily did in 2010, 2001, great points.

      • David, I don’t believe that the Heritage Foundations policies are grounded in greed. I think they, like lots of other conservatives, truly believe that their philosophy and economic principals will lead to a more optimum distribution of wealth. They may have been right a hundred years ago. However, the world we’re living in today is dealing with something none of the economists (save Marx and perhaps a few others) could predict. Sure, cutting taxes may stimulate some level of economic growth in the U.S. temporarily. But, the income generated by that growth will migrate mostly to the .5% and to capital investments in greater technology. Not to hire more human labor.

        On the other hand, simple income redistribution by increasing taxes on higher income brackets earners and diverting that to more programs benefiting middle and lower income people will not result in more jobs either. So, the liberal solution doesn’t work either. What is needed is a new model.

      • Saying that Heritage is being disingenuous because they won’t address the deficit by raising taxes is absurd? You are ignoring the very fundamental disagreement between those who believe in supply-side economics and the need to control the debt and those who don’t. Are you saying that Heritage’s position on supply-side economics is merely a smokescreen to hide the fact that they are all manipulative, greedy, evil people intent on destroying the middle and lower class so they can keep all the wealth to themselves? If so, we are no longer talking about economic theory, we are talking about an evil conspiracy so great democracy has already left the building and there is no longer any point in dialogue. I’m not quite that cynical yet. I prefer to believe that most of people on both the right and the left are well intended. They don’t disagree so much on desired outcomes. Rather it’s about the techniques for achieving those outcomes. Personally, I believe both sides are wrong which is why the pendulum keeps swinging further to the left then further to the right to the surprise of both.

        • David Bell

          “Saying that Heritage is being disingenuous because they won’t address the deficit by raising taxes is absurd?”

          Heritage claiming they want lower taxes and a reduced deficit is absurd. Especially when they combine this claim with increases to military spending.

          “You are ignoring the very fundamental disagreement between those who
          believe in supply-side economics and the need to control the debt and
          those who don’t.”

          No, i am saying that we have decades of analysis showing we are not on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve. Are you claiming it is legitimate to believe that every tax cut invariably leads to higher revenue? That if we set taxes to 1% across the board revenues would be the highest in modern history?

          I am not alleging a conspiracy theory. I am stating Heritage starts with a set of policies they wish to implement (lower taxes for the rich, increased military spending, deficit reduction, etc.) and then works backwards to find justification for these policies. A process which allows them to ignore facts like, say, cutting taxes and reducing the deficit are not very compatible goals.

  • Paul Richards

    Depending on who you talk to, the federal unfunded liabilities are 100 to 150 Trillion dollars making every household responsible for over a million dollars of this debt. This is rarely discussed and, like the federal government, Vermont’s government just keeps putting the coal to the fire and continues to make promises to the public sector unions for their discriminatory pension plans that many, many future generations will be responsible for if they survive. Where will these people be that “negotiated” these deals? Sitting on the beach collecting from their own discriminatory pension plans on top of Social Security if there is any left.
    The US dollar as the world’s currency is the only thing saving us and that is eroding. Once that is gone we are toast. This appears to be the goal of the globalists. It may be the best way for them to finally abolish the constitution and drive the stake the rest of the way into America’s heart once and for all.

  • Tiki Archambeau

    No mention in this article about how the Heritage Foundation drafted Obamacare in the early 90’s in response to Hillary Clinton’s calls for universal health care. Or how its advocacy for tax cuts supports corporate welfare (aka fascism).

    Theirs is a dangerous worldview that highlights priorities. By example, when all houses of government were last controlled by conservative Republicans, conservatives decided that war with a non-threatening Middle Eastern country was a wise choice for trillions of dollars and counting (yes, trillions).

    When Democrats controlled all houses of government, “liberals” (really the center right) decided that the nation’s health care crisis was a wise choice – therefore mandated the Heritage Foundation’s insurance requirement.

    Backing up, is it any surprise that the national debt rose dramatically once Reagan made it cool to give tax breaks to the biggest payers of taxes? Companies like GE pay ZERO in taxes yet here are conservatives jumping up and down pointing a finger at the poor, public schools, farmers, opiate addicts, the environment and so on.

    The answer is not to bring America back to the Middle Ages. The solution is fairness in taxation. The question is who we trust to make that happen.

    • Steve Baker

      the claim that GE pays no federal income tax at all is disputed by GE. Moreover, aside from corporate income taxes, GE pays payroll taxes, state taxes and local taxes. So Tiki’s blanket assertion that GE pays “nothing – zero – in taxes” is simply inaccurate.

    • Steve Baker

      Tiki, how is it New Hampshire and Maine have better economies and a budget surplus and Vermont is a complete welfare debtor state to the federal government ?

  • Mary Daly

    This from a Rehabilitation Nurse – My job as a Rehab nurse was to help my patients to become as independent as possible within their disability. This included high level spinal cord and head injured patients. It has bothered me for many years that our governments do not follow the same philosophy. It seems that the government has been determined to make us as dependent on their largess as possible and less dependent on ourselves. This has led to huge deficits. It is about time we change that philosophy back to helping people to help themselves and lowering our debt. When you always do for people they quickly become dependent. Self esteem and productivity increases when they are allowed to learn to do for themselves again.

  • Luann Tenney Therrien

    Common sense needs to come into play here because we stand to lose a substantial amount of funding if we do not comply. We would lose funds we would never be able to make up by raising taxes or by any other means, and we would be taking on a financial liability for the illegal immigrants seeking asylum in our state.
    I’m not trying to compare the issues, but Vermont’s Governor Madeleine Kunin was forced to raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21, or lose federal funds for highway repair. https://en.wikipedia.org/…/National_Minimum_Drinking_Age_Act The consensus then was Vermont could not afford to lose those funds.
    Our officials need to think hard about the consequences our already financial vulnerable state will face if we blatantly defy the federal government on this issue. Vermont citizens are already taxed enough as it is. Our state has a moral obligation to its citizens to not make our struggle to live in this state any harder than it already is.

  • Rob Williams

    Has anyone mentioned the option of a VERMONT PUBLIC BANK, perhaps modelled after the successful century-old Bank of North Dakota, to provide Vermont farmers, entrepreneurs, students etc with options? Reading through the comments, I didn’t see any mention – but may have missed it. More at http://www.vermontindependent.org and Vermonters for a New Economy.

  • Steve Baker

    Stephen Moore is an American writer and policy analyst. Founded and served as president of the Club for Growth from 1999 to 2004. Moore is a former member of the Wall Street Journaleditorial board.
    Obamomonics-
    The GDP, only grew by an average of 1.5 percent from 2009 to 2015. In the first 2 quarters of 2016, growth nearly stalled at .8 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
    It’s a waste of time to go on and on but I would caution Vermonts aero minded liberal progressive politicians to stop poking the federal government in the eye, especially when we are a debtor state completely dependent on the federal government money,

  • Reginald Jackson

    I don’t suppose it would make sense to demand from our legislators and governor that they make Vermont a more friendly environment for business so that our citizens can obtain good, well paying, self sustaining employment for themselves and their families rather than depending on the governments largess to provide for them. Reduce the need for government and state dependence, which also means cease the relocation of refugees entering our state with no visible means of support for themselves and their families depending on us, the taxpayers, to provide for them. Let’s bring back the Vermont that produced & gave the nation Calvin Coolidge and NOT the one that gave the nation a carpetbagger by the name of Sanders. It’s not too late if we really try.