Vermont Rally for Justice Is May 1

Vermont's governor, a Democrat, and the state's Democrat-controlled House, are poised to approximately double the cost of health insurance for Vermont's poor and working class people. The governor is rejecting proposals to raise taxes on millionaires to provide free health care for poor people. The Vermont Senate, also controlled by Democrats, is debating its version of the health care plan. A final agreement among the governor, House, and senate is expected in early May.

On May 1, there will be a rally on the statehouse lawn organized by people who want Governor Peter Shumlin and the legislature to raise taxes on the rich to provide free health care for everyone. The group that is organizing the rally has organized "Healthcare is a Human Right" rallies on the statehouse lawn on May 1 for the past several years. The rallies have each attracted more than 1,000 people. The group is the Vermont Workers Center. It has a web site at www.WorkersCenter.org. The Center is the Vermont chapter of Jobs With Justice www.jwj.org.

Vermont senate majority leader Philip Baruth told the Valley Post on April 11 that he opposes the governor’s plan. “We can’t ask for all the sacrifice to be made at the bottom end of the spectrum,” he said. Baruth urged people to contact their legislators. “A phone call is worth 100 e-mails,” he said.

Another organization that is lobbying Governor Shumlin and the legislature to provide more funding for health care for poor people has a web site at www.vpirg.org.

Shumlin did not respond to a request for comment for this article; neither did House speaker Shap Smith.

If Shumlin and the Vermont House get their way, the increase in the cost of health insurance to poor and working class Vermonters will take effect on January 1, 2014. Details about the cost increases are at www.CatamountHealth.org. (Click “key points about the exchange.”)

Shumlin has said repeatedly he doesn’t want to raise taxes on millionaires because doing so would cause them to leave Vermont. He has not offered any studies to support this claim. Several studies show that Shumlin’s claim is false. Links to these studies are at:

http://publicassets.org/blog/fleeting-tax-arguments

“We strongly disagree with Shumlin,” James Haslam told the Valley Post. Haslam is director of the Vermont Workers Center. “Healthcare is a human right.”

The legislature usually adjourns in May (in the past 10 years, its closing date has ranged from May 2 to June 13). It won’t be back in session until early January. People can find out who their state legislators are, and get their contact info, at www.leg.state.vt.us.

In 2010, more than 44,000 Americans died because the U.S. does not have universal health care, which Canada, Cuba, Europe, Japan, and every other rich nation has. That's according to congressman Alan Grayson, who retired in 2010. People in all those countries have a longer life expectancy than people in the USA.

This photo shows the Vermont Workers Center's May 1, 2010 march in Montpelier. To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "See full-size image." photo by Eesha Williams

Comments

Tax the Rich

This is an essential action May 1. The wealthy should pay their fair share and not blackmail all the rest of us. In the 1950s, a generally more prosperous time in the US than now, the tax rate on the wealthy was much higher and they paid a much greater % of the total taxes than now at all levels, federal, state and local, and that was under a Republican president, Eisenhower.

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