If you’re wondering why a few Republican leaders are pouncing on President Obama’s alleged dismissal of “American exceptionalism,” it’s mostly politics, not substance. These would-be presidential hopefuls are suggesting that Obama is undermining American values in an attempt to smear his reputation among voters. The hope is that Americans will turn against the president not because of what he will have accomplished or believes, but by how Republicans characterize his views as “un-American.”
It is, in short, another shameful episode of the ‘culture wars’ waged by the Republican Party.
Four weeks after a hard-fought election, Governor-elect Peter Shumlin continues to surprise and impress with his choice of department heads and the speed with which he is assembling a very capable cabinet.
The recent appointment of political rival Doug Racine, a state senator in Chittenden County for 14 years (along with six years as lieutenant governor) who lost the gubernatorial primary race to Shumlin by a razor-thin 203 votes, not only demonstrates Shumlin’s willingness to mend fences but also to reach out to the best leaders available.
Gov.-elect Peter Shumlin’s selection of his inner circle early this week set an important tone for the upcoming session: one of fiscal restraint and pragmatism. That’s particularly true of his selection of State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding as secretary of administration and Susan Bartlett as special assistant to the governor — both moderate Democrats known for their conservative approach on fiscal matters.
The news Tuesday that Congress will place a ban on earmarks — spending items by lawmakers directed to their home states, also known as ‘pork’ — must be taken as a misguided blow against practices that inflate the national deficit by naive Tea Party activists, and those who fear them.
David Stockman, the boy-wonder budget director in the first Reagan administration and the brains behind the supply-side economics in 1981, is making waves within the Republican Party by adamantly proclaiming that the Bush tax cuts should not be extended — not for the rich and not for the middle class. He’s also suggesting cuts in the military. Those two recommendations are direct opposites of the policies he championed during Reagan’s first term.
Tough budgets, progressive thinking
As Middlebury’s board of selectmen hone in on a draft 2011-2012 municipal budget, we urge community residents to get involved in the budgeting process by reading and understanding the issues as thoroughly as possible. To the extent that is done, area residents will be reminded how frugal this board has been over the past couple of years, while still respecting the town’s need for progress and a consistent approach to infrastructure repair and maintenance.
As Governor-elect Peter Shumlin assembles a team that he hopes will help him grow jobs and effect long-term change, we repeat two previous appeals: the need to select an outside agent of change as the next Commissioner of Agriculture (we covered those reasons in a guest editorial on Page 5on Monday) and the need for substantial reform in our educational system — a move that could be highlighted by making the commissioner a member of the governor’s cabinet.
New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks penned an essay last Friday, titled ‘Midwest at Dusk, in which he tries to equate the shellacking Democrats took in this region to Obama’s failed policies. Brooks says the overwhelming message was that there was too much government intervention, too much big spending resulting in deficits that are too high.