Monday, July 03, 2006

Affordability -- for whom?

There’s a new buzzword that some politicians are floating: affordability. But take note whose wallets they’re really talking about. New laws and proposals in Washington and Montpelier are actually making things tougher for most Vermonters.

Last week, I spoke with a couple who live down the street from me. They’re senior citizens who don’t have healthcare. Why not? They can’t afford it. Last Legislative Session, I fought hard for affordable healthcare, which was opposed by the Governor and most House Republicans. We finally passed some reforms, but we have lots of work ahead of us.

Another obvious money issue is taxes. President Bush continues to push for big tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, to be paid for by…guess who? The rest of us. We pay with increased debt and the short-changing of funds for roads, schools, healthcare, and keeping our society safe.

Likewise last March in Montpelier, most of the House Republicans voted for a proposal that would have resulted in higher taxes. Yes, you heard me right. It would have meant higher property taxes for middle-income Vermonters while giving bigger tax breaks to second-home owners who don’t even live in Vermont. Luckily that amendment failed because of a protest among Democrats and Progressives.

The discussion of healthcare and taxes as affordability issues leads me to this thought: when certain politicians speak about affordability, ask them, “Affordable for whom?”