Running Out of “Other People’s Money”

Margaret Thatcher once said, “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” You know that we are getting close to that situation when even as free spending a politician as Governor Peter Shumlin is willing to risk the wrath of those on the left by suggesting that one of the state’s welfare program’s be reigned in a bit. The following article was posted on the Vermont Digger website:

Advocates are taken aback by two proposals from the Shumlin administration that they say disproportionately hit the poor.

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced he wants to uproot an “insidious problem” in Vermont’s welfare system in his budget address on Thursday. His reform scheme centers on a $6 million cut to the Reach Up program, which provides assistance to people living at 50 percent of the federal poverty level.

The proposal comes on the heels of Shumlin’s announcement at his inaugural address that he plans to divert $16.7 million in monies from the state share of the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working Vermonters in order to increase childcare subsidies. The controversial plan was panned by a group of Democratic and Progressive lawmakers last week and was the subject of another press conference held by advocates for the poor on Friday.

Shumlin used his budget speech to staunchly defend his plan to scale back the state Earned Income Tax Credit by two-thirds. Shumlin emphasized that compared with most other states, Vermont’s EITC is unusually generous, and he said the state has other support systems in place to take care of low-income people.

It will be interesting to see if he ends up backing off from his single payer health care scheme like Howard Dean did when faced with fiscal reality.  Simply nibbling at one program so you can fund another is not going to solve our fundamental problem of expecting the state to cure complicated social ills that it has no competency to deal with.  What we really need is a restructuring of state government and a reconsideration of the proper role that we expect the state to play in a free society.  If we gradually free up the energies of private enterprise and the voluntary associations of Civil Society, we can put Vermont on a path that really “Puts People First.”

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