This is not Peter Shumlin’s finest hour.
Having built much of his base by embracing single payer as the ultimate model for Vermont’s healthcare future, it appears he has now painted himself into a corner.
One might almost accuse him of magical thinking, having refused to even consider the possibility of raising revenue for any reason through tax increases levied on those most able to contribute.
Anyone could have predicted that there would be upfront costs to hurdle in making the transition to single payer, even though a well-run program would ultimately mean savings for everyone.
Way back to his first gubernatorial primary, he gained on Doug Racine primarily by promising to deliver single payer. Racine wouldn’t make any such promise, acknowledging that it wouldn’t be simply a matter of waving hands and making it happen.
That honesty probably cost him the primary, and we have seen the disappointments unfold as Shumlin’s campaign promises have faded, one by one, in the cold light of daily governing.
An all or nothing kind of guy? It sounds like Shumlin has just given up on the idea altogether because it can’t be done without asking for sacrifices from the moneyed class.
It’s not a matter of avoiding injury to the economic sensitivities of the wealthy so that they will generously donate employment opportunities to the less privileged!
It is they who benefit most from a well-run economy that keeps labor healthy and fully employed so that the working class is able to buy the goods and services provided by those in the profit class.
This is not just a betrayal of the coalition of Democratic talent that originally set aside their differences to put Shumlin in the governor’s seat; it is a betrayal of the promise Vermont held out to lead the nation as a model for a functioning single payer system.
To take the position that this cannot succeed in the U.S. is to say that we are incapable of doing something that every other advanced nation has managed to do.
There is no lack of resources in the nation or even in the state to make this happen. Over the past few years, corporations and the wealthiest class have seen unprecedented income growth. There is so much money out there, that in some cases, they literally don’t know what to do with it; thus the rise of venture capitalism and exotic “investment” products.
It is shameful that the governor has been unable or unwilling to convince his own class to step-up and make a real contribution to the cost of establishing a well-run single payer health system. At the very least, his promises obligated him to make that appeal.
Instead he has stuck with a version of the Reaganomic argument that says the rich can’t “bear” any additional taxation.
Peter Shumlin has squandered his opportunity to lead Vermont into a visionary future where it might have flourished in the economic afterglow, attracting progressive enterprises and talented new residents to reinvigorate our little state.
What a pity!