A free press must demand accountability in campaign finance, health-care reform

BRATTLEBORO — A letter from Rep. Jeanette White in the Brattleboro Reformer explained that the Reformer had been started to offset the Republican-leaning Phoenix.

This makes me think that maybe the Phoenix should rise from the ashes. The Reformer has been so one-sided for 30 years that it's almost as though it has been a paid newsletter for the Democratic and Progressive parties.

An Oct. 25 Reformer editorial makes 11 references to the Koch brothers but none to George Soros, the behind-the-scenes funder of Democratic/Progressive candidates, PACs, and other causes. I assume this is to support the constant drumbeat Democratic/Progressive candidates throughout the country are pounding.

Let's look at campaign funding here at home.

Peter Shumlin is expected to spend about $1.5 million this year to Scott Milne's $250,000. Bernie Sanders raised $7.23 million in 2012 to John MacGovern's $136,000. Pat Leahy raised $4.46 million in 2010 versus Len Britton's $232,500.

Not a peep from the major media in the state on what the donors expected from their largess to the incumbents who, in addition to money, have nearly 100-percent name recognition and nearly daily television coverage, photo ops, and positive press coverage.

Yet, in off-season, the various media join the choruses about campaign-finance reform. How about editorializing about the lopsided spending in Vermont?

Better yet, how about talking real issues?

The legislature mandated: “The secretary of administration or designee shall recommend two plans for sustainable financing to the house committees on health care and on ways and means and the senate committees on health and welfare and on finance no later than January 15, 2013.”

Now, the governor says he will tell us how he is going to pay for his single-payer scheme in January, after the election. We, the taxpayers, have paid for the studies.

Why is the press not demanding they be released? Why is no one in the media demanding accountability?

I can only assume that it is either that the press is so supportive of single-payer that whether it can be paid for or not doesn't matter to them, or they are so enthralled with Shumlin that they don't want to call his bluff.

Also, the state budget has been increasing at more than 8 percent annually for several years - way beyond what the state economists say is sustainable - while average wages stagnate, if not decline.

And regulations put onto businesses more burdensome costs, which are passed on to consumers.

Maybe if we had a Phoenix, we would have an even playing field instead of one-party rule.

To me, a free press means more than not just keeping people from speaking. It also means that its protectors have an obligation to be demanders of an open government, not protectors of those in power.

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