Is This the Dumbest Thing Phil Scott Has Ever Done, the Most Pointless, or Both?

Words can barely express how inexplicable this is. Why did Gov. Phil Scott veto the public sector pension deal? Well, I know his stated reasons, but they’re stupid. He has expect an override, so his veto won’t accomplish anything except make him look needlessly obstructionist.

There’s more, a lot more, but let’s take ’em one at a time.

This deal came at the end of a years-long search for common ground on how to make the pensions fiscally sound. Last year, the Legislature set up a committee to recommend a way out of the mess. The panel included members of the Legislature and Scott’s administration, and the unions. It worked diligently for months.

At no point did Scott or any of his officials sound the alarm.

The committee brought its recommendation to the Legislature. It went through the entire process of committee hearing after committee hearing, amendments major and picayune, floor debates and floor votes.

At no point did Scott raise a hand and say the deal was unacceptable.

The votes in the House and Senate were UNANIMOUS. Every single goddamn Republican voted in favor of it.

At no point before the votes did Scott think to warn his legislative allies that he didn’t like the deal. Some of them would have happily voted “No” if they thought he had a problem.

This deal was put together painstakingly over almost an entire year. It involved the hard work of dozens of people and difficult compromises from all parties. It was a delicately balanced bargain. And Scott thinks he can just dive in and rearrange it?

Not to mention that his objections are stupid. Adding a defined contribution option would increase the pension systems’ complexity and add cost. His changes would not do anything to fix “the underlying problems” that Scott claims to be so concerned about.

On top of all that, I see no political upside for Scott in vetoing the bill. I guess he gets to play tough guy, but if the veto is overridden he will have accomplished precisely nothing while risking his image of plausible moderation and his credibility with the unions.

Throughout Scott’s tenure, he’s enjoyed the support or token opposition of the unions. The state employees’ union, in particular, has been about as Scott-friendly as a union could be. Large swaths of its membership voted for the guy. The unions never got behind any of his potential Democratic challengers. Not in a full-throated, all-out effort involving lots of money and eager volunteers.

It might also be the thing that brings more Democrats into the gubernatorial race, forces the VDP to confront its own inadequacies and get serious, for the first time, about defeating the governor. He might, for the first time in forever, have given a glimmer of hope that he could be beaten.

And for what? To have his veto overridden and his stupid suggestions ignored?

What’s the play?

I have no idea.

Maybe he is actually stepping out of politics and looking for a sinecure. He doesn’t seem like the sort to sign on with the Heritage Foundation or some such, but we’re in grasping-at-straws territory.

To paraphrase Robert Palmer, it’s simply inexplicable.


3 thoughts on “Is This the Dumbest Thing Phil Scott Has Ever Done, the Most Pointless, or Both?

  1. Walter Carpenter

    “Adding a defined contribution option would increase the pension systems’ complexity and add cost.”

    I suspect that he’s planning something down the road and using the veto as bait. I do not think that cost is the issue here. I don’t think he cares about the cost. The issue is to go for the defined pensions and turn the pension system into private hands, like the GOP wants to do with everything else, and break the unions in the process. Defined pensions like 401ks do nothing for the worker; they just leave them to savagery of Wall Street and the the rich guys get off free-of-charge, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott’s thinking of it from that angle, and this is the start of it.

  2. P.

    I agree with Mr Carpenter’s reply to a large degree. Gov. Scatt is going to bend to the corporate desires the majority of the time. Even if those desires represent the minority of Vermont and/ or out of state concerns.
    I have also said, repeatedly, Phil Scatt is a very passive aggressive personality/politician. Having lived in multiple states, 9 by now, my least favorite New England behavior is this passive aggressive trait.

    1. P.

      Late to add-The govenor’s veto was overridden by unanimous vote. NOT A SINGLE FROM ANYONE TO UP HOLD HIS VETO!! And the bill was originally passed by unanimous vote. NOT A SINGLE NO VOTE FROM THE LEGISLATURE!! Apologies for the all caps, but I feel the two unanimous votes illustrate just how misguided Scatt was in this instance. Dumb don’t even start…


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