More out of state money/activists pushing single payer on Vermont

By Rob Roper

If you were one of the estimated 20,000 Vermonters who received a phone call this weekend encouraging you to vote for Beth Pearce for state treasurer, the question you should have asked the caller is, where are you from? The likely answer, not Vermont.

An article by the Vermont Press Bureau’s Peter Hirschfeld revealed that yet another out-of-state organization is dumping money and manpower into our elections in order to push Vermont into a government-run, single payer healthcare program, and to support politicians who will do their bidding. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) is a left-wing PAC based out of Washington DC. According to Hirschfeld, “volunteers from across the country will be calling Vermonters to urge them to vote for the Democrat on Nov. 6.”

This, once again, seems to prove the point of Vermonters First, a Vermont-based PAC that sates on its website, “For a long time now, Vermont has been seen by the out-of-state political Left as a place to spend and experiment. Issues ranging from radical and unconstitutional campaign finance laws to a healthcare system that average Vermonter cannot afford, it has reached a point where many Vermonters feel we no longer have a voice in how we are governed.”

Vermonters First is fighting back against this invasion. As a result, Lenore Broughton, the principle financial supporter behind Vermonters First, found her home picketed by another out-of-state funded, pro-single payer organization, Vermont Leads. Vermont Leads received most if not all of its money from the SEIU, a left-wing labor organization without a single member in Vermont.

PCCC’s phone calls came after the group commissioned a poll of Vermonters back in late September. The stated purpose of the poll was to do message-testing for single payer healthcare. It also asked voters their opinions in the race for treasurer. It’s odd that Hirschfeld refers to this as a “new” poll, given that it is over a month old, but he does.

While the left-leaning poll found that 53% of Vermonters approve of single payer healthcare in the abstract, 55% oppose it if it will require tax increases to pay for it. So, in other words, 55% of Vermonters oppose single payer healthcare. The $5 billion program will require roughly $3 billion in new taxes.

But, the poll says that Vermonters will support tax increases to pay for the program if they are small and leveled only on the wealthiest 2% of the population. Hirschfeld quotes Adam Green of PCCC, “If Democrats make clear that … the burden will largely be asked to be taken on by the richest taxpayers, this is overwhelmingly popular.” Unfortunately, if Democrats make this argument, they will be lying through their teeth. There is no way that just 2% of Vermont’s 620,000 citizens can shoulder a $3 billion tab. In 2010, the total amount in income taxes the state collected from ALL Vermonters was about $570 million. If we want single payer, all Vermonters are going to have to pay for it in a big way. This reality is why Vermont Democrats voted to hide plans for how the program will be paid for until after this November’s election.

The options for paying for single payer in Vermont are at least a 14% payroll tax, more than doubling the state income tax, raising and/or expanding the state sales tax to services, or some combination of these, possibly supplemented in part by a sweetened beverage tax or overall junk food tax. Governor Peter Shumlin confirmed (pretty reluctantly) to moderator Bob Kinzel in his first gubernatorial debate with Randy Brock that these are the options.

If PCCC polled Vermonters on how they feel about these options, they didn’t release the results. But, why should they care? They do not live here. They will not have to live with the consequences of this legislation. They will not have to reach into their own pockets to pay the bill. We do. And, we will.