Again With Splitting the Baby?

For the second time in three months, a prominent Democratic officeholder has described the debate over when to end Vermont’s transitional housing program as “splitting the baby.” In mid-November it was outgoing House Human Services Committee chair Rep. Ann Pugh, interrupting a housing advocate to say “I’m looking for your recommendations as to splitting the baby. What are our priorities?”

Yesterday, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jane Kitchel cast herself in the role of King Solomon on the same issue: “I feel a bit like Solomon here. How do you split the baby?”

After the jump I’m going to get all exegetical on the Solomon comparison, but first let’s take a look at the product of Kitchel’s wisdom.

The Scott administration’s proposed 2023 budget adjustment would have ended the program on March 31. The House version included $21 million to keep the program going through June 30.

Kitchel? Her version extends the full program through the end of May and trims eligibility in June. The difference between her version and the House’s? About $2 million, per VTDigger.

Two million.

Is that what the administration has come to? It needs some sort of victory so badly that it seems willing to spend $19 million out of the House’s $21 million? (The admin hasn’t officially committed, but I doubt that Kitchel would have approved a plan that the governor wouldn’t sign. She’s the one who wanted to “split the baby,” after all.)

Speaking of which, about that Biblical reference.

King Solomon never actually split the baby.

It was a ruse designed to reveal the identity of the baby’s mother. And it worked, so no baby was split that day. If Kitchel were to accurately take on the role of Solomon, she would have used her sword. Not to split the baby, but to remove a thin slice.

When you think about it, “splitting the baby” is a terrible phrase. It’s equating the normal process of compromise to murdering an infant.

Also, by using this phrase, Pugh and Kitchel were putting themselves in the role of the wisest person in the Bible. Seems a bit much.

How about we consign the phrase to the ashcan of common usage?


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