This is the kind of thing that inspires Harlan Sylvester conspiracy theories.
The narrative goes like this: Sometime back in 2009, Peter Shumlin tells “the most powerful man in Vermont politics” (h/t Shay Totten) he’ll keep a lid on taxes if Harlan paves his path to the corner office.
It’s one explanation for the volume and desperation of Shumlin’s anti-tax rhetoric — aimed, need I remind you, at fellow Democrats.
Yesterday, the Governor slammed a House-passed plan to cap itemized deductions. And to put it plainly, he lied about it.
Ell. Eye. Eee. Dee. Lied.
“Removing charitable deductions, the ability of Vermonters to deduct home interest from their mortgages, which promotes home buying, and removing the health care deduction when you’ve had catastrophic health care costs is a big mistake,” Shumlin says.
Now, that’s bullshit. Ain’t nobody “removing” nothing, and the Governor knows it.
The House bill caps itemized deductions at 2.5 times the standard deduction. That’s about $15,000 for an individual or $31,000 for a couple.
For most Vermonters, that’s a hell of a lot of deductions. For the top earners, well, their ability to deduct would be limited — but not removed, no way, nohow.
Speaking of “limited,” take it away, Gov:
“I feel very, very strongly that Montpelier should not limit in any way Vermonters’ ability to give to charity both in and outside of Vermont,” the governor said.
Again, bullshit. The House bill would not “limit…Vermonters’ ability to give to charity.” People would be free to give whatever they want. Their ability to deduct would be capped at a relatively high level. But people with enough scratch to give more than $31,000 a year effectively have no limits.
Not to mention that the federal deduction is worth a lot more than the state one, so there’s still plenty of incentive to be generous.
Also, nice touch using “Montpelier” as a pejorative. Peter Shumlin, outsider? Hahahaha.
This is one of his least attractive habits as a political leader: transparently overreaching with his rhetoric, setting up straw men and punching them down. It just reinforces the image of Peter Shumlin as manipulative sneak. And frankly, it stopped working a long time ago.
Just ask Mr. Speaker.
“It seems to me that many charities survive and thrive in our neighboring states that do no have charitable deductions,” he said.
And Mr. Pro Tem.
“It’s not going to be the governor telling us he doesn’t like it that makes us go another way,” he said.
Now, it’s possible that all three men are indulging in a little Kabuki theater, publicly adopting elaborately stylized roles while quietly working things out behind the scenes. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, really. But our Democratic Governor should tone it down a couple notches. As it is, he seems to be trying to damage the brand of his own party.
Which is how conspiracy theories are born.