Daily Archives: October 28, 2014

Dean Corren puts the pedal to the metal

The Secretary of State’s office has been blizzarded by Mass Media spending reports from the Dean Corren campaign in the past eight days, representing a strong home-stretch advertising blitz for Phil Scott’s challenger.

Since October 20, Corren has reported spending a total of $60,961, with almost two-thirds of the money going to TV advertising. Going into the campaign, Corren had a fixed budget of $200,000 because once he opted for public financing, he couldn’t take any further donations.

The rundown:

  • $38,980 for TV (broadcast and cable)
  • $8,095 for radio
  • $5,387 for newspapers
  • $4,000 for campaign consultancy by State Rep. Chris Pearson’s firm
  • $2,385 for graphic design work
  • $1,542 for online advertising
  • $572 for printing (The campaign had done a lot more printing earlier in the season.)

All in all, it’s a nice healthy push. Earlier, I’d wondered if Corren was hoarding his money too long. Now, I think he was right to keep his powder dry until the campaign’s closing days. Most voters don’t pay much attention until right before the election. Except for those who don’t pay any attention at all.

Also, the recent TV ads have good production values and strong messaging. I don’t know that it’s enough to knock off Phil Scott, but full credit to the Corren team for a sound strategy.

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Endorsement or Recommendation? Seems to be no difference.

A few days ago, Phil Scott and Right to Life raised a bit of a stink about a TV ad from Dean Corren’s campaign, which sought to draw a distinction between Corren’s solid pro-choice record and Scott’s, which is mostly but not entirely pro-choice. And it pointed out that Scott had the backing of RTL.

The issue raised by Scott and his kinda-sorta friends at RTL is that the group has not “endorsed” the Lieutenant Governor, but merely “recommended” him.

“Recommended” does sound a bit less formal than “endorsed,” but is there really a difference?

Well, on Sunday, the Burlington Free Press issued its predictable endorsements of Governor Shumlin and Phil Scott. But it didn’t use the verb “endorse” anywhere on its editorial page.

In fact, the first sentence of the gubernatorial editorial says…

“The Burlington Free Press editorial board recommends Peter Shumlin for governor.”

The Scott editorial begins with…

“Vermonters should return Phil Scott to Montpelier as lieutenant governor.”

By Phil Scott’s standards, neither he nor the governor have been endorsed by Vermont’s Largest Newspaper. I hope he doesn’t claim otherwise.

Also, earlier today, my email inbox was graced by a missive from Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger on behalf of State Sen. Phil Baruth. I’ll have more to say on this later, but for now I’d simply like to note the wording:

“I want to put in a strong recommendation for… Phil Baruth.”

Hm. Guess that’s not an “endorsement” either.

Or, alternatively, Phil Scott has no basis for complaint about Dean Corren’s ad.

Hack’s retreat

The conservatives really thought they’d gotten hold of a hot one.

They’d suddenly “discovered” a Shumlin Administration plan to “take over” Medicare, and began furiously stoking fear among Vermont seniors. Or at least trying their best to do so. As if they really gave a damn about Medicare, considering that their party is actively trying to kill it for future enrollees. And that their favored candidate, Dan Feliciano, is a Libertarian and presumably doesn’t believe in relying on the gubmint for anything.

It took a few days for the Administration to put together a coherent response, perhaps because they were incredulous that anyone would take this seriously. But their response did come, and it was simple and categorical: There is no such thing.

First word actually came from VTDigger’s Anne Galloway, who reported that the pertinent clause in Vermont’s health care reform law had been amended last spring, and that the law no longer mentioned anything like a takeover.

Which, as I predicted, didn’t stop the anti-reform crowd from pushing the idea. Here’s a Twitter exchange between Agitator-in-Chief Darcie “Hack” Johnston and Yours Truly, beginning with a Johnston link to a fear-stoking radio ad produced by the Ethan Allen Institute:

Funny, I didn’t get a response to that last one.

Meanwhile, El Jefe General John McClaughry leaped into the fray with a partial retreat, posted as a Comment under Galloway’s story. In it, he tried to muddy the legal waters before concluding that apparently there would be no Medicare takeover — but instead of admitting the whole hoopla had been pointless, he posited that the Administration was “trying to squirm out” of their alleged intent to take over Medicare. He further congratulated Dan Feliciano, the one who first tried to peddle this bill of goods, for supposedly uncovering the Shumlin plot and forcing the Governor to abandon it.

Like I’ve said before, sometimes I think ol’ Jefe doesn’t really mean the stuff he writes; he’s just trollin’ us.

Later in the day came another VTDigger story, amplifying Galloway’s initial post. This time, Administration officials had joined the chorus.

Robin Lunge, director of Health Care Reform, said unequivocally Monday that it won’t happen.

“Federal law does not permit us to get the cash,” she said.

Reporter Morgan True then explained that the troublesome portion of Act 48, the 2011 health care reform bill, called for the state to pay for all health services “to the extent possible under federal law.” And as Lunge stated, federal law doesn’t permit such a move.

Further, True reported:

That portion of Act 48 is what’s known as session law, or the legislation as passed before it is written into statute.

It provides guidance for writing the statutes, and while it is still law, the portions that don’t make it into statute are often temporary and meant to provide guidance.

“In 2011, we asked the administration to entertain lots of things, but it was in the context of ‘tell us whether you can do this,’” said Rep. Mike Fisher (D-Lincoln), who was on the House Health Care Committee when it drafted Act 48.

And after all that, remember that this year’s Legislature repealed that section of Act 48.

Johnston, of course, was prepared with a fallback position: “if the state is allowed” to set payment rates for medical services “and determine the type of payments, it will be bad for seniors on Medicare.”

Please note the first word: “if”. The whole argument is based on her own assumption.

From there, it’s just a quick hop and a step to the conservatives’ favorite bugaboo: rationing!!!

Scary

It’s a quick, and nearly complete, comedown for Johnston and her ilk. From frightening stories of a Shumlin plot to take control of Medicare and screw around with seniors’ benefits, to a maybe-possibly-perhaps shift in reimbursements. So sad when a good conspiracy theory gets thoroughly blown up by the facts.

The ironic thing about all of this is the notion that hardcore conservatives are suddenly the Protectors of Medicare. Don’t I recall Mr. McClaughry, just a few weeks ago, pining for the good old days before we had all this Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid crap that was draining our independence and sucking the lifeblood out of the private-sector social safety net that somehow, magically, took care of everyone’s needs?

If you’re interested in protecting federal health insurance, I’d advise you that Governor Shumlin is a much better ally than the likes of Darcie Johnston.