Y’know, if I didn’t think Phil Scott was a different kind of politician, a straight shooter who refuses to indulge in gamesmanship, I’d congratulate him for a decent bit of trickeration today. See, on the morning of WDEV Radio’s Tunbridge Fair debate (the one he refused to take part in), he held a press conference to unveil a major policy initiative.
Complete coincidence, I’m sure. Because Phil Scott would never resort to such shenanigans.
The big unveil was Scott’s “comprehensive blueprint for economic growth.” And it seems \designed to counter the criticism that his campaign is short on specifics. It weighs in at a robust 56 pages — although that includes roughly 14 pages of large photos, mainly featuring Phil Scott.
The document includes a “12-part Economic Growth Plan” with “more than 50 specific ideas, initiatives and proposals.”
Trying too hard, are we? Looks like a high schooler trying to pad the ol’ word count.
Most of those 50 ideas have been previously announced. Some appear to have little to do with the economy, including “Restoring Faith &: Trust in State Government” and “Addressing Vermont’s Opiate Epidemic.”
Some of the “specific ideas” are fundamentally nebulous, like his assertion that he will “encourage and support all employers” and “retain and recruit the best medical professionals.”
Others identify a problem but completely fail to address it. He is silent, for instance, on the distressingly high cost of secondary education. He calls for “clean and affordable energy,” but offers nothing but platitudes and vague aspirations on energy production and efficiency.
He talks of energy independence for Vermont, which is a chimera at best. But even if you take him at his word, he’d also like to see Vermont consume more natural gas, which would of necessity come from outside our borders.
Then there’s his plethora of tax credits and incentives, which would reduce government revenue while offering an unproven return. Indeed, there’s substantial evidence that incentives are basically a waste of money.
And while Scott proposes a raft of incentives, he has no plan for how to pay for them. How will he replace the tax revenue foregone through incentives? He doesn’t say.
Indeed, at his press conference, he failed to answer a variety of questions seeking more detail and more specifics.
Phil Scott’s economic plan is an impressive-looking pile of words and pictures. But there’s not much new here. It’s short on specifics and long on generalities, aspirations, and platitudes.
Maybe we should elect that empty chair instead.