Dick and I have spent untold miles on our Harleys riding in pastoral Vermont—still largely covered by verdant forest—with its scenic roads, quaint villages, acres of rolling farmlands and apple orchards, covered bridges, and views minus billboards (yes, there are no billboards). Combine this with Vermont’s charming inns and enthusiastic farm-to-table movement, and you have one of our hands-down favorite states, whether on a Harley or in a car.
And did I mention liberal? Vermont, a haven for expat New Yorkers and latter-day hippies, has the distinction of coming in only behind Hawaii as Mr. Obama’s strongest supporter in 2008. But overtaxed Vermonters can breathe one sigh of relief now that Governor Peter Shumlin has admitted the state cannot afford a full single-payer health-care system.
According to health-care experts from outside Vermont, “If Vermont can’t make it work, single-payer can’t work anywhere in the country where the economy has free and competitive markets. It’s more evidence that centralized government health care is simply not workable in America.”
As John Fund notes here in NRO, Vermont’s throwing in the towel on a single-payer system is obvious and profound.
The one state that not only embraced Obamacarebut insisted on going beyond it to a full single-payer system was Vermont, the haven of hippies and expatriate New Yorkers, which has become one of the most liberal states in the nation. In 2011, it adopted a form of neighboring Canada’s government-financed health care and promised to implement it by 2017. (And Jonathan Gruber was a key architect of this plan as well as of Obamacare.) This week, however, Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, admitted the state couldn’t afford the plan’s $2 billion price tag and consequent sky-high taxes, and pulled the plug. The lessons for Obamacare are obvious and profound.
Scott Milne, the little-known Republican who opposed Shumlin in last month’s election and came within 1 percentage point of winning the most votes, isn’t surprised. “During the campaign I said that single-payer is dead — I’m telling you that now, and Peter Shumlin’s going to wait until after the election,” Milne told theBurlington Free Press. Milne is still running for governor, since Shumlin won only 46 percent of the vote, and Vermont requires the state legislature to elect the governor in January if no candidate wins the majority. Despite his prescience, however, Milne is highly unlikely to persuade the Democratic legislature to substitute him for Shumlin.
But Milne certainly has won a moral victory. Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, called the cancellation of singe-payer a victory for “overtaxed Vermonters.” Noting that the state’s fiscal plan for implementing single-payer was now almost two years late, he said in a statement: “We’ve already spent far too much money exploring this idea, and the discussion has paralyzed our business community.”
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