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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Calling the shots

The New York Times had an interesting take on the state of the national Republican Party this morning, pointing out that while the Congressional Rs are all about opposing all things Obama, especially the stimulus package being signed today in Denver, the gubernatorial Rs are far more supportive of the president.

Our Gov. Jim Douglas, who is in line to become chairman of the National Governors Association, gets prominent mention in the piece (click HERE to read it). The NYT also included a interesting tidbit that shed more light on the hastily arranged Oval Office meeting between Obama and Douglas on Feb 2.

It turns out that Douglas set the wheels for that meeting in motion when he asked for a meeting with Obama's people at the NGA's liaison office at the White House. Obama responded by turning the request into a chummy one-on-one visit inside the Oval Office, as the cameras clicked.

It says here that once Douglas takes over the NGA this summer, his national profile as a pragmatist Republican will give him a prominent voice in the national discussion about the country's economic problems and, if he so chooses, rehabilitating the GOP's national image.

-- Sam Hemingway

The National GOP could use the image-rehabilitating. It could use any help it can get.

This also goes to show you how out of whack the Vermont political culture is. Here the Dems and Progs like to label Douglas as a right wing conservative. Nationally, he's clearly a moderate (as Dean was, BTW, when he was Gov.)
Kind of fluffing up the Governor's bed for him aren't you ?
Go Doug Racine.
He's considered a right wing conservative here in VT because his actions are such.

Look at his appts to boards and commissions.

Look at his attitudes towards state workers.

Look at his statements on education.

Look at his talking points on dealing with teh budget - "everything is on the table because these are extraordianry times" EXCEPT he won't talk about increasing revenues unless it is through "fees".

Heck, he wants to double and almost triple the cost for businesses with regard to Unemployment "fees".
The burden of the UI funding is 100% on the backs of business and the fund is nearing insolvency. I do not think anyone wants to raise the BUSINESS tax to cover the shortfall but may be forced to.
The Governor's Administration knew this day was coming but did nothing to stabilize it before because it had a $300 million "surplus" which is heading for 0 fast in this recession.

The Administration has admitted they knew this would be a problem but did nothing!

Now they want to increase UI taxes not a little - but significantly by at least 2-3 times over 2 years.

TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE and frankly irresponsible on the knowledge the administration had.

Jim Douglas prefers to govern by the seat of his pants and in crisis!
If the fund had been adjusted to increase all the left wingers would have demanded that family leave be taken out of UI, would have raised the benefit levels when VT is already the 6th highest in the US and demanded that UI cover all workers for at least 1 year.
It is very easy for you to criticize the shortfall but how many of you anticipated the crisis we have today?
You know, it is surprising to me that you know so much about what the legislature will do!

You keep throwing it at the "lefties" or "liberals".

The fact is the Governor KNEW the UI Fund was unsustainable BEFORE the current crisis - his administration has already admitted to that - but they did nothing to raise the flag or concern.
It is a vicious cycle- "Douglas knew the fund was unsustainable"- maybe he did but not to the extent it is now. The reason it has been declining is that businesses have been slowly moving out of state and their employees are left to collect benefits with the remaining employers left holding the liability to pay into the fund. The reasons businesses leave is not only the fault of Douglas. It is a combination of energy costs, workers comp costs, business taxes and permitting cost and timing issues to name a few.
NEK by the tone and content of your posts, it appears that you are a schill for teh Governor and possibly even a member of his immediate staff.

Energy costs... Let's see, Jim Douglas touts that we have the lowest electric costs in New England.

Worker's Comp costs... have been declining overall for several years - last year was about 8% decline and this year it is proposed to be a double digit decline.

Business taxes... Vt's business taxes are not that high, in fact NH's are much higher.

Permitting costs and timing... this is a red herring, as first it only affects a few businesses, and second even those that need it find they are able to get permits almost ALL of the time.
Doug Racine for Governor!
"He's considered a right wing conservative here in VT because his actions are such."

Blah, blah, blah.

"The Gov. knew this was coming . . ."

Blah, blah, blah. So did Jeb Spaulding. So did Pete Shumlin. So did Gaye Symington. What did they say? Nothing. What did they do? Nothing.
Spoken like a true conservative and Douglas supporter - when the going gets tough, BLAME SOMEONE ELSE!
Sounds like the Democrats in Vermont!
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