Phil Scott’s Charmless Offensive

Since the beginning of his fourth term, Gov. Phil Scott has been busily drawing lines in the sand and daring the Legislature to cross them. It’s a strategy that seems to borrow much more from his years at Thunder Road than from his allegedly collaborative approach to governing.

But he’s not stopping with public defiance of the Democratic majority. He’s also putting out a series of aggressive policy stances that threaten to further inflame relations with majority Democrats. First there was the proposal to shift state retirees’ health insurance from Medicare to Medicare Advantage, the Potemkin Village of senior coverage. That proposal was cheekily unveiled during campaign season, when you might think he’d at least pretend to be friendly to the state employees’ union. Second, his proposal to spend $900,000 to study an issue that’s already being studied by the state’s Climate Council.

And third, the Department of Public Safety’s transparently political plan to publish a politically motivated (and dismally stupid) crime “heat map” that won’t help the public understand crime trends but will give the administration another cudgel for its attacks on criminal justice reform.

Let’s take ’em in reverse order. The “heat map” will highlight “communities with the highest volume of police calls.”

Not adjusted on a per capita basis. The raw number of police calls.

So Burlington is more than twice as large as the second-biggest city in the state, South Burlington. It’s three times as big as #3 Rutland, almost four times as populous as #4 Essex Junction, and so on.

Of course Burlington gets the most police calls. So freakin’ what?

This is transparently designed to stoke fears about crime, specifically in the Burlington area, and support the governor’s stated position that “well-intentioned reforms” need a rethink.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this map is that the department is already using it internally. To do what, exactly? Devise policy based on a fundamentally flawed measuring stick?

But hey, I bet those bright-red “hot spots” will look great on the teevee, which is the real point of this exercise.

Next, the governor’s plan to waste, I mean spend, $900,000 for the Agency of Natural Resources’ Climate Office to, in Scott’s words, “to do the real planning and analysis we need to reach emissions targets accurately and realistically.”

“The real planning and analysis” that’s being done already by the state Climate Council, as prescribed by the Global Warming Solutions Act. Which is, ahem, the law.

The real aim of this is not “planning and analysis.” It’s obstructionism. It’s a pretext for Scott to reject whatever the Climate Council or the Legislature come up with. This is the same governor who tried to veto the Climate Council and did veto the Clean Heat Standard. Scott and his officials have made it clear that they don’t care whether we hit our 2025 or 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets. So why not drag this thing out with some utterly extraneous “planning and analysis”?

Oh, and next time the governor complains about wasteful spending, please wave this little number in his face.

And now a few words about Medicare Advantage. It’s a scam.

Well, that’s a bit harsh. But what it does is remove seniors from Medicare and toss ’em in the meatgrinder of the private insurance industry. Why else would private insurers be advertising the hell out of their Medicare Advantage plans?

Yes, these plans initially offer better coverage than Medicare. But as anyone who’s got any kind of insurance — especially health — knows, these plans change with the requirements of insurers’ bottom lines. The companies also make these “Advantage” plans work by vigorously denying claims.

Administration officials say there’s a difference between plans offered to individuals and those negotiated by governments. And yes, the administration can negotiate better terms. But do you trust this administration to act in the best interests of state retirees?

The administration that’s pushing for cuts in public sector pension benefits?

Yeah, no.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: Phil Scott is more conservative than his image would suggest. He’s less conservative than the Republican Party, but he’s no moderate. And he seems determined to press ahead with an aggressive agenda, even when the Democratic majority has the power to inflict a series of humiliating veto overrides.

Maybe one side or both will back away from the brink. But right now, it’s looking like a long, hot 2023 session.

5 thoughts on “Phil Scott’s Charmless Offensive

  1. montpelier28

    I’m extremely glad the Medicare Advantage thing got so much press. Insurance company gift to themselves, all it ever was. Have not and never will sign up so I can go the gym ‘free”.

    Reply
  2. wc

    Me too on the Medicare Disadvantage. They are nothing but corruption and graft and, not only insurance companies giving a gift to themselves at the public teat, but the national political system giving itself a gift of largess in campaign contributions courtesy of the public teat. You have to wonder if that is not a part of the reason why the Guv is so intent on handing over seniors to these plans. UVMMC has got one, for example, and it stands to make a lot of money off of them.

    Reply
  3. wc

    “It’s also a way for the federal government to evade its Medicare obligations.”

    Very true on that and the feds are longing to avoid their Medicare obligations.

    Reply

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