Politics

Trump budget cuts would gut federal funds to Vermont

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump shares a laugh with (clockwise from left) Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Tom Price, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday in the Oval Office. Photo courtesy of White House
WASHINGTON — On Thursday morning, Republican President Donald Trump released a draconian budget proposal that, if enacted, would devastate domestic spending in order to boost military spending and enhance border security.

The Trump plan was modeled on a budget blueprint promoted by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a D.C. think tank that advocates for small government and fiscal responsibility. Trump’s “skinny budget” features significant government layoffs, drastically reduced federal aid programs and weakened federal regulatory enforcement authority.

This is the first time in modern history that an American president has proposed a reshuffling of the nation’s fiscal priorities on such a massive scale. The closest analogy is President Ronald Reagan’s effort to reform government spending in the 1980s. (Reagan famously concluded his 1988 farewell speech by contending that “man is not free unless government is limited.”)

The White House views the so-called “skinny budget” as a fulfillment of Trump’s campaign pledge to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in government while cracking down on crime and terrorism.

“Our aim is to meet the simple, but crucial demand of our citizens—a Government that puts the needs of its own people first,” Trump wrote in an introduction to the proposal. “When we do that, we will set free the dreams of every American, and we will begin a new chapter of American greatness.”

While the proposal has been coined the “America First” budget, the cuts would be disproportionately felt in the red, rural areas of America where Trump is most popular. The GOP’s recently unveiled health care plan, which was drafted by Congress and the White House, would also exact a heavy price in Trump country.

Broadly speaking, Trump’s plan guts federal programs and shifts the financial and regulatory burden of government onto the states.

In Vermont, any major reduction in federal support would be catastrophic. Under pressure from Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who has pledged not to raise taxes or fees, state legislators are now grappling to close a $18 million budget gap.

Andy Pallito, the state commissioner who is responsible for Scott’s budget proposal, could not be reached Thursday. But in an interview with VTDigger in late February, he said that state reserves totaling $133 million aren’t enough to backfill ongoing cuts from the federal government.

“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,” Pallito said.

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. If the Republican health care plan is enacted, Vermont could lose up to $200 million in Medicaid money beginning in late 2019.

Federal dollars seep into all aspects of Vermont government. In fiscal 2016, federal money was funneled into 25 state agencies and departments.

Trump’s proposed cuts would not go into effect until fiscal year 2018, which begins on Oct. 1, 2017.

If fully enacted, the Trump budget would impact areas that affect the day-to-day lives of everyday Vermonters: air and water quality, transportation, college assistance and more. Farmers and businesses would lose access to grants and loans, and job training programs for the elderly would dry up. The cuts would fall the hardest on the state’s most vulnerable.

The Trump budget includes a few spending increases that could benefit Vermonters. A proposed $4.6 billion increase to the Veterans Administration means the White River Junction VA facility could see some improvements.

The proposal also prioritizes spending on the opioid epidemic. In addition to current substance abuse and mental health programs funded at the national level, Trump proposes a $500 million increase in spending for treatment and recovery services.

In addition, programs once thought to be on the chopping block would be retained, such as grant programs to fight domestic violence and provide bulletproof vests for police officers.

Anticipated congressional opposition

The Trump budget will face intense pushback in the halls of Congress, where both Democratic and Republican lawmakers support a number of the programs the president hopes to ax.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is the top Democrat on the powerful Appropriations Committee. On Thursday afternoon, Leahy said Trump’s plan is “packed with partisan campaign promises.”

“This is not a budget proposal, it’s a budget by Tweet and a blueprint for the Trump-leveraged buyout of America,” Leahy said. “And I’m going to fight for Vermont’s true interests, and for our national interests.”

On Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said the proposal is “morally obscene and bad economic policy.”

“It will cause devastating pain to the very people Trump promised to help during the campaign,” Sanders said. “At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, when 43 million Americans are living in poverty and half of older Americans have no retirement savings, we should not slash programs that senior citizens, children and working people rely on in order to provide a massive increase in spending to the military industrial complex. Trump’s priorities are exactly opposite of where we should be heading as a nation.”

Green Mountain National Forest 2
The Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont. USDA photo

Environment

Under Trump’s proposal, the Environmental Protection Agency would see the deepest cuts of any federal agency. The EPA’s budget would be slashed by 31 percent, totaling roughly $2.6 billion in savings.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources relies heavily on federal support. About 40 percent of the funding for the state’s environmental programs come from the EPA.

Julie Moore, the secretary of the state agency, said Thursday that the proposed cuts “have the potential to be devastating.”

The EPA gives states the authority to enforce environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Moore said that Trump’s budget would cut federal assistance for enforcement by 45 percent, or roughly $5.5 million.

“Under the proposed changes, we are still on the hook to implement those acts but wouldn’t be getting the federal support,” Moore said.

About $32 million from the EPA supports the Department of Environmental Conservation annually. About $12 million is for staff and services, while $20 million is allocated for drinking and wastewater infrastructure improvements in Vermont. A 31 percent reduction in federal funding could gut the state’s environmental regulatory structure and significantly reduce monies distributed to local communities for clean water projects.

The Trump budget saves $427 million by returning “responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to state and local entities, allowing EPA to focus on its highest national priorities.”

Moore said that means support for the Lake Champlain cleanup would be scrapped, a $4.5 million annual loss to the state.

“Our understanding is that the Lake Champlain Basin Program itself is proposed to be eliminated outright,” Moore said. “That’s a significant concern for us as well. The EPA currently provides financial assistance, technical assistance, as well as a crucial coordination efforts between Vermont, Quebec and New York.”

The Green Mountain National Forest, which currently receives roughly $6 million a year from the feds to subsidize operational costs, is on the chopping block, too. The president calls for reduced funding of “lower priority activities in the National Forest System.”

Also in jeopardy are grants to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department that help protect threatened and endangered species.

Trump axes more than 50 EPA programs, including the Energy Star efficiency program and air quality programs.

In fiscal 2016, Vermont received more than $18 million EPA grants from the State Revolving Fund, which helps communities with wastewater treatment infrastructure and clean water programs.

Trump offers a modest $4 million increase for the State Revolving Fund — spread across 50 states.

“That recommendation sort of rings hollow,” she said.

The president’s budget reins in funding for pollution cleanup efforts at Superfund sites, cutting the program by $330 million. The state of Vermont received more than $300,000 in Superfund money last year to help clean up 14 sites from Bennington to Lyndon.

Moore said federal money for brownfield site cleanup is at risk, too. Every federal dollar for the program leverages $28 in private investment to help turn abandoned industrial sites into usable commercial land.

Dairy
Dairy cows munch hay at Fairmont Farms in East Montpelier. File photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

Rural Economy and Agriculture

Trump would slash the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget by 21 percent, for $4.7 billion in savings.

The Rural Business Cooperative Service would be discontinued. The service offers grants ranging from $10,000 to $500,000 to businesses with fewer than 50 employees in rural areas.

One such grant, totaling $357,990, enabled Maxwell Farms in Newport to buy a methane digester. Once the digester was purchased, the 850-cow farm created a new income stream selling power to a local utility.

Trump would put an end to the Water and Wastewater loan and grant program, which provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal and sanitary solid waste disposal across Vermont, and the country.

The president says USDA should be streamlined, suggesting that rural development programs could lose employees or see reduced hours.

Trump hopes to terminate the Economic Development Administration, which offers grants to spur economic innovation, in order to save $221 million.

The Economic Development Administration invested $265,000 in 2016 to boost the green energy economy around Vernon in an effort to mitigate the economic impact of the decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee power plant. In 2013, the EDA invested $6.5 million in Vermont. The money was used to improve internet and communications infrastructure in 25 communities throughout the state.

Trump calls for a decrease in “federal support for job training and employment service formula grants, shifting more responsibility for funding these services to States, localities, and employers.”

One such job program that would come to an end is the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which helps older people find jobs. Vermont Associates for Training & Development has been recognized nationally for its successful implementation of the program.

Trump is also advocating for the elimination of the Northern Border Regional Commission, which supports economic development in rural, economically challenged areas of the state. Last year, Vermont received $1.8 million from the commission.

Another economic program under threat is the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which funds consulting services for small- and medium-size businesses.

The Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center, which is partnered with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, has offered advice to businesses small and large across the state for more than two decades. The organization’s website features executives from IBM to Vermont Creamery thanking the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center for critical support.

Bob Zider, president of the Vermont center, said that the $124 million allocated to Manufacturing Extension Partnership is a small price to pay for a service that helps to sustain manufacturing.

“The idea to cut this is contradictory to President Trump’s agenda to boost manufacturing jobs,” Zider said. “The MEP network is vital to the White House’s overall agenda, we help small manufacturers across the nation.”

Health and Human Services

Trump’s proposal would eliminate all of the programs in the federal Health and Human Service’s Office of Community Services, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Community Services Block Grant.

Vermont received $17 million from LIHEAP last year. The federal government gave Vermont more than $20 million in Community Services Block Grants that fund construction projects, such as senior housing facilities and local libraries.

In his remarks Thursday, Leahy singled out the elimination of LIHEAP as a particularly cruel suggestion.

“We are not a good and great nation if we eliminate heating assistance for the 6 million vulnerable households that receive LIHEAP help,” Leahy said. “21,000 of those households, in Vermont, are just now digging out from a historic snowstorm in our state.”

Amtrak Vermonter
Amtrak’s southbound Vermonter leaves the White River Junction station. Photo by Mike Schafer/White River Junction Productions

Transportation

Trump scraps the Essential Air Service program to save $175 million. This federal subsidy program helps connect smaller airports, like the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport, to larger airports.

If the service is eliminated, Rutland’s commercial flights would likely cease.

Federal subsidies for Amtrak are scaled back. Trump’s budget calls for ending support for “long distance train services.”

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

Trump’s proposal would also eliminate funding for the TIGER grant program, which recently distributed $10 million to support Vermont’s train service.

Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos
President Donald Trump poses for a photo with students of St. Andrew Catholic School in early during a tour of the school in Orlando, Florida. At left is U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Photo courtesy of White House

Education

Trump’s cuts to the Department of Education would eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which was established by former Vermont U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords.

The program, based on a pilot project at the H.O. Wheeler School in Burlington, supports before and after school programs, as well as summer programs for students.

The plan does away with the $2.4 billion annual allotment for Effective Instruction State Grants, which supports quality improvement programs for teachers and principals.

The Trump proposal reduces accessibility to college for working families by freezing Pell Grants at current levels, scaling back work study opportunities and terminating the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.

“College costs are rising each year, and any period in which we freeze federal or state financial aid means a bigger affordability gap for low income students,” said Scott Giles, president of the Vermont Student Assistance Corp. “We are concerned that once we see more details of the budget proposal we may see some even deeper cuts in that area.”

About 11,000 Vermonters were eligible for Pell Grants last year and received more than $39 million in federal support. Another 3,200 Vermont college students were paid a total of $5.5 million for work study jobs.

Trump targets the federal TRIO programs and GEAR UP, which offer college counseling and assistance to students overwhelmed by the complex application process.

“These programs allow VSAC to provide career and education counselors who can support first generation, low income students in nearly every middle and high school across the state,” Giles said. “President Trump’s budget proposes some pretty significant reductions in those two programs.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds the AmeriCorps program, would be terminated.

Since AmeriCorps’ founding in 1994, nearly $18 million in scholarships has been directed to Vermonters. This year, 340 Vermonters are members of AmeriCorps.

Arts and Media

Trump’s proposed cuts would weaken support for Vermont programs for artists.

The Trump blueprint would terminate the National Endowment for the Arts, which gave $600,000 to Vermont last year to support the state’s community of artists. Past recipients of NEA grants in Vermont include the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, the Weston Playhouse and the Sandglass Theater. In early March, the city of Montpelier received a $50,000 grant from the NEA to create a master plan for public art.

Alex Aldrich, the executive director of the Vermont Arts Council, said Trump’s proposal is the “third round of the culture wars.”

The Vermont Arts Council, which receives $715,000 from the NEA, would be a casualty of the Trump budget if it is approved by Congress.

Aldrich says that without strong support for the arts in America, “we will lose a piece of our society that we may never get back.”

Trump calls for the privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which in 2014 allocated $1.7 million in Vermont to subsidize four public access TV stations, including Vermont PBS. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting gave grants to 17 radio stations across the state, including Vermont Public Radio, which received $754,000 from the government.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump shakes hands with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan at the president’s joint address to Congress in late February. Photo courtesy of the speaker’s office

Congressional Reaction

Vermont’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.

After Sanders and the rest of the budget committee members 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.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which aides say is traditionally the least partisan panel 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 supports the use of local farm produce for school lunch programs.

“We don’t ‘Make America Great Again’ at the expense of middle class families and the most vulnerable among us,” Leahy said Thursday. “And you can’t make America stronger by eliminating the very programs that make our nation more secure. We are not a great nation if we abandon our work to cure cancer, or to bring an end to Alzheimer’s disease by slashing $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health.”

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said in a statement that the budget reflects Trump’s values.

“President Trump’s budget sends a clear message: You are on your own,” Welch said. “It doubles down on Pentagon spending at the expense of the middle class, vulnerable families, seniors, clean air and water, scientific research, diplomacy and the arts. President Trump calls it his ‘America First’ budget. I call it an ‘Americans last’ budget. Like the budgets of his predecessors, this one is dead on arrival. Congress will write the budget, not President Trump.”


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Jasper Craven

Recent Stories

  • Play With The Bull And You Will Get The Horns. Perhaps Vermont needs to figure out how to be more independent from the federal government. Perhaps policies should be predicated on Vermont’s ability to pay for them.

    • tom Johnson

      Looks like revenue from growing weed may make the fast track as more federal cuts occur.

      • Nicole Boar

        Legalizing marijuana will not only put lots of money back into Vermont’s coffers, But will also get many heroin and other addicts OFF those addictive drugs. Cannabis is not addictive and is actually good for many illnesses.

  • Neil Johnson

    We’ll actually need to prioritize. Vermont is totally capable of thriving on budget cuts, we’ll have to work together as we used to do, rather than living off welfare from the Feds. We’ll come up with better solutions, better communities and better answers. Money and our love of it has been causing us some serious problems.

    Lobbyists have been running the show and the Vermont piggy bank for far too long. Frugality is a good thing, “Should I buy Clorox wipes at $6.99 a box 4x per month ($28 per month, $336/year) or buy towels for $16 and two bottles of bleach for $6 and save over $300 per year?” Should I buy one set of eye glasses for $300 or spend $1200 per year on disposable contacts? It’s really not that hard to live within your means.

  • Neil Johnson

    The cuts would fall the hardest on the state’s most vulnerable. FALSE

    It’s only true if our representatives continue to pad the lobbyists and give the money to those who are not vulnerable. Case in point. Can you buy a Cadillac Health Plan that the unions provide our teachers? NO! It’s not even available on Vermont Health Connect, we average Vermonters can’t even get it!

    If we gave our teachers the absolute best that Vermont Health Connect offers, WITH NO deductible….we’d have $116 million dollars to help those in need.

    Just one idea, you don’t think our tax bills are the highest in the nation for being frugal do you? Meanwhile our state is run on volunteer fire/ambulance and we all drive our own trash to the dump.

  • Edward Letourneau

    This state has been living on a credit card for 15 years, and there is little indication the liberals want to stop it. — Federal cuts will help them get priorities in order. They might even have to address how Act 250 is stopping affordable house and business from being here.

    • Willem Post

      Ed,
      I totally agree.
      Vermont has made it state economic policy to tap into as many federal programs as possible to get federal money to set up these programs and operate them.
      Thousands of people, state, local and in various organizations, depend on these programs.
      This has turned Vermont into the most leftist state in the US.
      Vermont leaders made a big mistake during the past few decades by becoming so dependent on the federal government, and now the chickens come home to roost.
      This is not Trump’s fault.
      Vermont ranks 43rd in attractiveness to business and it ranks 49th for economic outlook since 2008.
      That is proof of government running the state economy off the cliff.
      The government having a budget growth rate much greater than the state gross product growth rate is an untenable situation that has been going for years.

  • Paul Richards

    It’s ironic that a picture of the Green Mountain National Forest is included because our “elected delegation” have chosen to allow the destruction of it by allowing blasting and road building in it to make way for industrial wind turbines. It’s like a political pawn and the liberals won this one which is a travesty. These are supposed to be our lands and not for the government to parse out to industrial wind corporations to destroy. Where was Welch, Leahy and Sanders on this???? Not a peep from any of them or the liberal media.
    Good thing Digger used a pre destruction picture. Perhaps a follow-up of some current and future pictures would get the taxpayers attention?

  • Bruce Wilkie

    OF course, along with these cuts will come a huuge reduction in federal income tax-NOT.

  • Christopher Daniels

    This is a Republican budget, through and through. It represents all that Republicans hold dear: massive spending on the military, cuts and eliminations to domestic programs, elimination of enforcement of clean air and clean water laws. It’s the era of full personal responsibility for the poor and the average citizen, and zero responsibility for the wealthy business owners who want full license to earn as much money, impacts to everyone else be damned.

    • Neil Johnson

      Surely there is even more waste and fraud in the military. We could transform our military and make it stronger just by cutting and making it more efficient. Our problem is too much money. There is so much that we don’t even attempt to prioritize. It’s everywhere all sides. If we came together instead of representing parties we could probably do a great job for the citizens, country and state.

    • Dan DeCoteau

      Peace through strength. Our military is below World War II readiness. As an example in the real world hang a GUN FREE ZONE sign on your door to see how long it is before you regret it!

  • Neil Johnson

    $50,000 for a PLAN???????? In early March, the city of Montpelier received a $50,000 grant from the NEA to create a master plan for public art. This is a waste of grant money. We waste it continually. in our town planning and doing nothing. We’ve done so many affordable housing studies, probably spent well over $110k, only people to actually DO something was Habitat for Humanity. . They did two houses. That’s about it for 3 towns 25 years. Study, no building.

    • rosemariejackowski

      Yes…same in Bennington. Too much money spent on Studies and Commissions and no money for important projects such as senior transportation.

    • Michael Olcott

      yep up here in the NEK too. if i remember right they blew 10M on planning for a bike/walking path…that was already laid out as it used a section of an old east west railline. but the school system couldn’t/cant afford to provide busing for high school students

    • Anthony Redington

      On a per capita basis the feds spend in VT $40 million a year for housing help to folks and $320 in tax subsidies for middle and rich for home ownership.

  • Bruce Wilkie

    Make amerika cold, sick and hungry again. This budget lives up perfectly to the classic GOP Snidely Whiplash cariciature of the evil banker foreclosing on the elderly widow.

    • Matt Young

      Bruce, the elderly widow is actually being taxed out of her home, that’s the real problem.

  • Tim Vincent

    What goes around comes around.
    For every million spent on a “good” cause, there’s a million being wasted (the DOD being the leader there), but after 8 years of Obamanomics (growth under 2% and a depleted military), something’s gotta be done.
    Politicians LOVE to spend money (other people’s money) and get re-elected by a grateful populace,as in:
    “I’ll get you free stuff, you vote for me.”
    And the grateful populace includes more and more of the bloated bureaucracies created by all this bountiful spending;govt. employees (and their families) vote too.
    When the National debt exceeds the GDP, start learning Greek.
    Right now – thanks to Bush,Obama and a willing Congress, the Debt equals the GDP.
    But to quote Margaret Thatcher:
    “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”
    And when the center-right electorate finally asserts itself, a far left state like Vermont is waaaaay out in the cold.
    Leahy and Sanders, not only being in the minority, also represent a small out of the mainstream state.
    Good luck with that.

    • David Bell

      ” but after 8 years of Obamanomics (growth under 2% and a depleted military), something’s gotta be done.”

      We have the largest most expensive military on the planet. What metric are you using to claim our military is depleted?

      • Edward Letourneau

        We have an expensive military for several reasons; We area the leader of the free world, we have an all volunteer force which costs more and makes up for manpower with technology, and like it or not we do need to be capable of fighting two wars at once. Some of the technology seems expensive, but it also lasts a long time. We are still flying B52s built in the 1950s. And they started design work on the F16 in 1967. Its still flying and defending and will for more years. there are more examples if you want them.

        • David Bell

          “We have an expensive military for several reasons; We area the leader of
          the free world, we have an all volunteer force which costs more and
          makes up for manpower with technology, and like it or not we do need to
          be capable of fighting two wars at once.”

          We spend more than double the next biggest military budget on the planet, China (which in practice is also an all volunteer army). We spend as much as the next 7-8 countries in the world combined, many of them are our allies (also volunteer armies in most cases).

          We can and have been fighting more than two wars at once for some time.

          So, again, what metric are you using to claim our military is “depleted”?

          • Jamie Carter

            “We spend more than double the next biggest military budget on the planet, China”

            Spending isn’t a very good metric for your argument. The largest expense in nearly every endeavor is manpower. The US pays their troops a decent wage and provides good benefits. China pays their troops much much less, with less benefits. They also have nearly 1 Million active military members.

            The US military has also lost roughly 1/3rd of it’s active duty personnel since 1990.

          • David Bell

            “The largest expense in nearly every endeavor is manpower.”

            Can you provide a source on this, in modern warfare I am not certain this is accurate.

            An army of half starved soldiers with weaponry decades out of date would not be a real threat, one of the main reasons numbers have gone down is due to our pulling out of Iraq.

            I disagree with you regarding spending being an good metric.

          • Edward Letourneau

            I didn’t use the word “depleted.” And to know what the military wants to spend on, to fix, we need to see the details in the bill. I haven’t see it yet. have you?

          • David Bell

            You responded to a comment describing the military as depleted, it is not an unreasonable question.

            Now, since I have shown that we can and have been able to wage more than two wars at once, that we are spending far more than anyone else, and that most major armies are all volunteer, what point are you trying to make?

      • Tim Vincent

        Readiness.
        Number of available aircraft, pilot training hours, manpower strength of Army and Marine line units, USN fleet readiness and availability and on and on.

        • Brian Hadley

          “Readiness.
          Number of available aircraft, pilot training hours,
          manpower strength of Army and Marine line units, USN fleet readiness and
          availability and on and on.” Stats, graphs, any kind of PROOF? ….I thought so….

        • Michael Olcott

          Well if we had fought the conflicts that dragged our forces to this level to actually win on the ground and cared less about winning the hearts and minds then perhaps we would be seeing a much different picture. either fight to win or stay the hell out of the conflict. it also helps to actually define who the enemy is without regard to political correctness fears of offending someone’s cult. jmo.

        • David Bell

          And the fact we are spending more than the next 7-8 countries combined means our military is depleted?

          • Valerie Mullin

            This is why I’m grateful that other countries are now being asked to pay “their fair share” to be a part of N.A.T.O.

  • Felicia Scott

    Good. Now Vermont will be forced to discard a lot of its Montpelier baggage and businesses can start moving back into this state. More people back to work, paying their own way, honestly and with dignity. And where were our three DC reps when the Green Mountain National Forest was sold to an Spanish industrial wind developer? I was amazed to see that old, pre-destruction. picture used here to denigrate the President’s budget proposal.

    • tom Johnson

      That will not change anything…Vallee and COCO has fought Costco putting in gas pumps (more business) for 12 years abusing the act250 procedures. Vallee fought Costco initially 20 years ago. Federal funding cuts to infrastructure will not encourage any business to move back to Vt unless they are lumberjacks to clear cut the state of it last natural resource.

    • Michael Olcott

      “More people back to work, paying their own way, honestly and with dignity.” well that is only if the private sector employers decide to hire the people that are left to their own means due to the cuts laid out in this. other wise i would not be surprised if the crime rates spiked. but hey thats ok after all it makes far more sense to pay out 30-60K/year to house prisoners than to assist otherwise law abiding Citizens before they see no other means to provide for themselves than criminal acts.

      • Jon Corrigan

        What you’re insinuating is this – those of us who pay our ‘fair share’ have to shell out even more under threat of ‘crime rates spiking’ due to ‘otherwise law-abiding citizens’ taking what they believe is their right to provide for themselves. Might work in some areas, but won’t work in others. The north is full of deep, dark woods. That’s why we still leave doors unlocked.

        • Michael Olcott

          well i live in the north and i lock my doors, anyone who doesnt in this
          day an age is rather ignorant. its no threat its a simple fact that if
          people with needs or dependents are unable to find legal work then they
          will turn to crime when they become desperate. proven fact. also it
          costs less to give people the basics of life than to jail them. What
          you’re insinuating is that you would rather let those who fall through
          the cracks of the labor force starve or shoot them instead of feeding
          them

          • Jon Corrigan

            One side of my family were poor dairy farmers in Fairfield during the Depression. Nobody alive in Vermont today comes close to being as poor as many in that community at that time. Why didn’t they turn to crime then?

          • Michael Olcott

            um lets see maybe because the sense of community was much much stronger then. perhaps because the influence of religion was greater thus forming the between them a sort of rural safety net that just doesnt exist in todays fragmented families and more secular society. those would be my first 2 guesses. in todays day an age we should not be forced to subsistence level agriculture nor be forced to join a cult in order to get the basics of life. speaking of the depression era, that was when trains were still building this state providing public transit throughout the state, our money actually had a gold backed value and you could get your wages in silver if you choose. life was far different then,not better but different.

          • Jon Corrigan

            Ask the two senior citizens killed by the heroin addict in Swanton – the one who was sentenced to time served and six months house arrest. I’ll bet they’d disagree with you.

          • Michael Olcott

            yep take into mind that im sure they grew up in a time when blacks were second class citizens LGBT people were driven to the edges of civil society and they lived through the last days of horse drawn carriages. still not a better time when humanity is looked at from the wide view,as i said just different. the drug problems of their day were opium and the demon Rum. my Dad was a poor farmer and logger too so i have a pretty good idea of what life was like through his teen years in the early 20’s.alot fewer people and there were more opportunities to be made if they didnt exist already for one.

  • Lester French

    What did we ever do before we became so reliant on Big Brother???

    • Homer sulham

      People were much more self-reliant,

  • Bruce Wilkie

    This country started with a policy of genocide against Native Americans.
    This country is about to embark on a policy of genocide against the poor, the weak, the sick, the non-white, and the elderly.
    The Trump agenda is to eliminate these groups of people by denying health care, food, education and by militarizing the police.
    The Trump policy is to commit genocide on our own people.
    How far have we come in 240 years?
    Not very far.

    • Dan DeCoteau

      To answer your question, we have come to the point of unsustainable debt to the tune of $20 Trillion dollars. We have come to the point where the government is meddling into our lives so far that it has created a nanny state and has created wasteful bureaucratic monoliths deeply entrenched with overlapping services. No one denies the fact that some people need help but one party has created a monster government for the purpose of getting voters to vote for them. We have also gotten to the point where the government is so entrenched into every aspect of our lives that we can’t write an email or post something on a social network site without the fear of it coming back to bite us at a future date. If you can’t imagine how much waste and fraud there is in all government you will never understand the reason why it must be weeded out. Whining about and making up dreadful scenarios about the doom of the USA because one president at this time in our history actually realizes that corrections in the operation of our national government must be made are the same old scare tactics always employed by the opposing party. The gravity of our debt situation can be ignored. and we can just wait until the unsustainable debt destroys everything!

      • Brian Hadley

        Specifically, describe how “the unsustainable debt destroys everything!” I would love to know what it is YOU want me to be scared of….Can you do it? Can you cite examples, documented analysis, historic precedent- really ANYTHING that proves YOUR doomsday scenario of the “evil” debt consuming and destroying life as we know it.

        • Matt Young

          Brian, specifically can you explain why 20 trillion in debt wouldn’t be a concern? Would huge debt be a concern to an average Americans household?

          • David Bell

            Do you actually think a government is the equivalent of a household?

          • JohnGreenberg

            Matt Young:

            I can think of at least three reasons “why 20 trillion in debt wouldn’t be a concern.”

            1) In double entry bookkeeping, liabilities are offset by assets. For example, the federal government
            owns 28% of the land in the US.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42346.pdf.That’s a pretty significant asset to offset the liability of the debt, and of course, it’s not the only one.

            2) The measure generally used to determine whether or not a borrower is creditworthy is income coverage. US government debt is 104% of annual gross domestic product. Of course, some countries have lesser percentages, but many have far greater ones as has the US at times.

            3) Finally, a significant portion of our debt is owned by foreigners who could easily sell it if they thought they risked a default. Not only is this not happening, but the dollar remains the world’s reserve currency.

            As David Bell has already noted, there is no valid
            analogy between federal budgets and household budgets. Few households print money; none do so
            legally.

    • Neil Johnson

      They’ve started building camps! They are filling them up and executing people today!!! Trump just ordered everyone over 50 to be gassed!

      And Is this all over making budget cuts? A gal in Rutland was just caught stealing $70k from Medicaid through fraud….think she’s the only one?

      Can we possibly be more melodramatic and untruthful? Vermont’s first budget cut in what 16 years of increases? How did we possibly live in 2000, when we had more people in the state and much smaller budget????

  • Peter Everett

    Nothing to fear, but, fear itself. No need to worry. Guaranteed,….massive State income tax increases as well as increases in Sales, Gas, Meals & Room and any others you can think of at the State level. All those increases as well as large increases in State fees. Wait until you will have to renew driver’s license or register your car!!! The best (or worse) is yet to come form our tax and spend legislature. There will be no cuts, only more taken out of our pockets. The surprises will astonish us as to how this group really works and what they think of the working stiff living in Vermont. Maybe it’s time to join the non workers.

  • waltermoses38

    It never occurred to me that I lived in a welfare state. But looking at the past 6 years I should have known. Shumlin was too busy making real estate deals on brown paper bags to tell us. And not a word from our federal delegation. Silly me.

  • Anthony Redington

    Vermonters like those across the nation enjoy a very low tax burden compared to average developed nations–and obviously we do not spend what we do raise–or raise fairly–the revenues from taxes. Vermont under taxation amounts to about 5% of our incomes, about $1.5 billion–and normally half that would go to State and half to Federal government coffers. The Vermont share of $53 billion more for defense is about $108 million. Much of U.S. taxes/tax expenditures go to things like homeownership subsidies–about $160 billion–that do very little for housing and cause economic/environmental cost beyond calculation. Cutting things like heating assistance, meals on wheels mostly for seniors and the disabled lives well within the circle of the absurd.

  • Katharine Hikel MD

    THANK YOU for this thorough, clear, well-organized overview. Now where’s my Prozac?