If you want to see what the tax plan is for the nation, just look to Vermont. Early in his administration, President Barack Obama realized that Vermont – with its overloaded Democrat majority State government – was the perfect place to test drive his redistribution of wealth program. Vermont also had a running start on the single-payer health care program that Obamacare is destined to become. It was the perfect place to hoist trial balloons and thus evaluate his own parties acceptance of the “change” portion of hope and change. The results have been mixed, thus far, but there’s every indication that will change as Governor Peter Shumlin flexes his political muscle and brings his party faithful into a tax compromise that fits his tax schedule.
Clearly, Shumlin (Center) has far more political clout than his lieutenants – House Speaker, Shap Smith (R) and President Pro-tem of the Senate, John Campbell (L) and what Shumlin wants, Shumlin gets.
The strange battle taking place right now features Shumlin fighting his own party members AGAINST an income tax hike for Vermont’s wealthiest taxpayers – something Sumlin insists he will not allow to happen. He never said the word “veto” in his opposition to the budget proposal, but it was very clear that’s what he meant.
What Shumlin actually means is he will not allow this proposed tax increase NOW. And there’s a method to his madness. He knows that the price tag for Vermont’s healthcare plan will be astronomical and his plan to pay for it will be the “time and place” for the redistribution of wealth to kick in. From a political standpoint, Shumlin can’t raise income taxes now to pay the freight, when he’ll need even more money in the next biennium just to fund his healthcare plan. Those tax dollars will absolutely NOT come from the average Vermont wage earners – they can’t afford the taxes imposed now, say nothing of a major increase. The only other source he’ll have is what amounts to a tax increase on the richest among us. They’ll do that by decreasing the amount of dollars allowed as tax deductions rather than increase the percentage of taxes paid. That way they can say “we didn’t increase their taxes”, but that’s exactly what the net result will be. Most certainly a trial balloon that the Obama administration will watch closely, just to see how many buy into the Vermont Democrat’s word shuffle.
It’s interesting to note that tax cuts have been mentioned, but only in passing. This legislative session has seen nothing but tax increases, highlighted by a 6% hike in the State’s gasoline tax and signed into law a month ago by Shumlin. And this is exactly how the Obama administration goes about its business. Raise taxes; cut nothing except defense department funding and let the chips fall where they may.
In what seems to be a never-ending search for things to tax, the Democrats in Montpelier are even considering a tax on churches, service organizations and anyone else who uses break-open gambling tickets to raise funds for various charitable causes. That Shumlin proposal was projected to bring in $17 million dollars a year to the state coffers, but that figure was strongly questioned from the outset and a massive protest was being organized by the non-profits who would be affected, when the House tax writing committee decided to back off on the idea. That proposal, however, could sneak back into the 11th hour negotiations as the legislature moves into overtime this coming week. They had hoped to adjourn the session on Saturday (11th), but the failure of the Democrats leadership to reach a compromise on tax increases has forced the overtime.
At a time when Vermonters are really hurting financially, their elected representatives in Montpelier are seeking even more ways to tax them, rather than cut or curtail spending. It serves them right. This is what they voted for and this is what they shall get. Vermont is a mini-mirror of the nation’s immediate future.