Vermont Democrat Party attacks grassroots opposition to health care bill

by Rob Roper

Vermonters for Heath Care Freedom is a new organization started by Darcie Johnston, a lifelong Vermonter and small businesswoman. Johnston founded and operates Johnston Consulting, which handles political events and fundraising for clients around the country. When the single payer health care debate began in earnest, Johnston decided it was time to take a stand.

“This issue really motivated me, and I as a private citizen decided that with the skills and the background that I have decided to organize this effort,” said Johnston in an interview with Common Sense Radio. “Businesses are going to leave. Businesses are not going to come here. We’re going to be looked as a non-friendly place to do business because of what this is going to cost and the questions that aren’t answered.”

By her own accounts, Johnston has been able to raise “a fair amount of money.” Enough, at least, to launch a substantial radio campaign raising serious questions about the proposed health care legislation. Ads began airing last Tuesday, and they appear to be having some effect. Enough, at least, to draw fire from the Vermont Democratic Party.

In a Press Release sent by VDP Executive Director Jesse Bragg, the party accuses, “This shady political organization is fighting against health care reform that will contain costs and make our health care system more simple, affordable and fair. Vermonters have a right to know who is funding this effort.”

There are several ironies bundled in this attack. The first is that Bragg does not seem to share the same concern for financial disclosure from the 501c4 organizations and others supporting single payer health care. A comprehensive look at who they are can be found in Astroturf Pressure Behind Vermont’s Rush to Single Payer, by Robert Maynard.

The more laughable irony is that Mr. Bragg demands that “Vermonters have a right to know” about the funding mechanisms of a private enterprise raising a few thousand dollars to run radio ads. But, what Vermonters do not have a right to know what the funding mechanism will be for a $5 billion a year, state-run, public health care system proposed by Democratic leadership. Vermonters do not have the right to know who is going to pay for that system, or how. Vermonters do not have a right to know what services that system will provide, or how we will access them.

We’re not allowed to know anything about this plan. If you ask these questions and expect answers, as Vermonters for Health Care Freedom does, you will be attacked by the likes of Mr. Bragg and the Vermont Democratic Party.

Bragg concludes his press release, “With their refusal to make this information public we have no way of knowing. Vermonters should ask, what are they afraid of?” Yes, Vermonters should ask, what are Governor Shumlin, Speaker Smith, Senate President Pro Tem Campbell and the other proponents of a single payer system afraid of when they refuse to answer basic questions about their proposal.