While single payer planning in Vermont is down, dormant, or perhaps dead for now, longtime opponents have come in to deliver a few more kicks to the comatose near-corpse. So who are the sharks circling in on the state’s plans for single payer healthcare?
One of them is Shawn Shouldice, the Vermont director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Under her direction, the Vermont branch of the NFIB is sending out over a thousand postcards urging small businesses to pressure legislators to repeal the single payer provisions in Act 48, the healthcare law. The NFIB bills itself as a “non partisan” business group, however VtDigger.com politely notes they are “a business group which has largely endorsed Republican candidates and causes”
CNN reported in 2013 the single biggest source of funding for the NFIB came from a group backed by the Koch brothers’ political empire.
NFIB and its affiliated groups received $2.5 million from Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a conservative advocacy group with deep ties to the Koch empire.
Other sources reported that several years ago Karl rove’s super PAC Crossroads GPS gave the NFIB a grant of $3.7 million.
Actual small business people politically are divided in roughly equal thirds between Democrats, Republicans and independents. Yet the NFIB lobbies heavily in favor of big business and conservative Republican political issues. So, while claiming to be the voice for small business, the nationwide group carries plenty of baggage for big time national conservative funders and the corporados whose interests they serve.
Shawn Shouldice, the NFIB director, wears several hats. In addition to owning Montpelier-based Capital Connections lobbying firm, she has worked as spokesman for Bruce Lisman (small businessman?) of Campaign for Vermont the “centrist” group. Shouldice is also co-chairman of the Vermont chapter of ALEC – a nonprofit organization of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives.
At ALEC meetings, corporate lobbyists and special-interest reps work with elected officials to approve “model” bills for their legislative wish lists. These bills focus on reducing environmental and corporate regulation and taxes, tighten voter ID laws, and combat single payer healthcare. NPR calls ALEC a dating service between corporations and politicians.
I wonder if the NFIB-initiated postcard shower might be intended to make waves at Lt. Gov. Scott’s Capitol Plaza business/legislator gathering. Scott has called his upcoming Priority #1 Day One gathering a combination “Shark Tank” show and speed dating event. Interestingly enough he envisions his Vermont pitch session will perform a match-making service strikingly similar to the one ALEC provides – a dating service between conservative business and their well-funded pocket politicians.