Keelan: The importance of our Washington conduits

By Don Keelan

Vermont has a collection of candidates seeking to represent the state in Washington next January. Today, they are campaigning in each corner of the state, presenting their position on dozens of issues.

It is disappointing that the candidates are not addressing the most critical reason why Vermont sends its top three congressional candidates to Washington: to bring back federal money.

Don Keelan

Money flowing from Washington to Vermont is equivalent to what blood is to the body. If not restored, any measurable decrease is fatal.

Knowing a candidate’s position on the front page issues of the day is worthwhile. What matters is how a candidate proposes to bring back to Vermont the hundreds of millions of dollars Vermont needs to function.

Specifically, how will the candidate(s) cozy up to their 532 non-Vermont colleagues in the House and Senate? Without such support for Vermont’s needs, our State could face catastrophic fiscal conditions. I am not just referencing earmark funds, of which $200 plus million for Vermont was announced in early August.

Senator Patrick Leahy was a legend in accomplishing such feats. He will be remembered more for the dollars he brought back to Vermont than any specific piece of legislation he sponsored, co-sponsored, or committee chaired.

There is no hyperbole: throughout Vermont, there are buildings, attractions, and events that bear the Senator’s name — only exceeded by his former colleague in the Senate from West Virginia, the late Senator Robert Byrd.

It is strictly an American tradition: the taxpayers pay for the project, but the politician gets their name on the building. Oh well, not important!

For some, it might be news, but Vermont cannot function financially without vast sums of cash from Washington. Some projections put the annual amount at around eight billion dollars. It is not just to fund the state government but also a large number of funds — aside from Social Security and Medicaid payments — pass through State agencies to Vermont-based nonprofits.

For example, the Vermont Council on Aging, which has five regional centers, oversees Meals on Wheels. Before the five councils get their annual funding, the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living (DAIL) must determine the distribution to Vermont from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Although the focus of this column is not on bureaucracy, it is interesting (and disappointing) to see all the “hands” that handle the four dollars and change for a daily senior meal.

After 48 years in Washington, Senator Patrick Leahy’s retirement announcement was a cataclysmic strike for Vermont. The second shoe will drop when we hear Senator Sanders is ready to come home. Soon, 79 years of seniority on Capitol Hill will have evaporated. Then where are we?

Vermont has tragically allowed itself to become financially dependent on Washington. Even local police departments can’t purchase body cameras unless they procure funding from the U.S Department of Justice.

It’s not the U.S. Senate and House of Representative candidates’ positions on issues that matter, but how they bring the dollars so many State agencies and nonprofit organizations annually depend on back to Vermont. How will Vermont receive $100 million to clean up Lake Champlain? Or get millions to build new wastewater lines throughout Vermont’s towns and cities? That is what is essential.

When our representatives arrive in Washington, they will be up against an army of lobbyists–at last count, about 12,000; many of whom will be stalking the halls of Congress seeking funds for their constituents, the other 49 states.

The folks we send to Washington act as conduits, defined by Google as “a person or organization that acts as a channel for the transmission of something.” In Vermont’s case, the transmission of money.

Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.

Image courtesy of Public domain

9 thoughts on “Keelan: The importance of our Washington conduits

  1. TERM LIMITS……..are so needed in this country…….
    join in the fight now…….
    Im not totally happy with the way written at this moment… I believe elected officials as was intended by our forefathers …go do the work, go back home to your income stream before you were elected.
    this lifetime pay has to stop……or term limits is mute
    Non the less…….we have to jump the term limits hurdle now….and go from there……

  2. Preserve the DC Federal Pork because Pervmont can’t survive with out it! Pervmont also cannot survive without foreign interference that pushes the drug trade and human trafficing throughout the State. We were sold out long ago by the swamp rats and the rats under the Golden Dome. Perhaps the days ahead will show how God feels about what happened here and across the country. Pray without ceasing. The Republic with either stand against the enemy or fall into the fire of Hell.

  3. Yes, Pat did an excellent job on getting federal funds for the state, all he had to
    do was shake a few hands agree with his cohorts like Chuck and Nancy, and
    watch the money flow……………….he does know the game !!

    And all the federal money coming into the state will be “P-away” in a heartbeat on
    liberal pet projects !!

  4. “Vermont has tragically allowed itself to become financially dependent on Washington. ” Yes, it is tragic. A state once proud of its independent self-reliance is now dependent on faraway bureaucrats — and tourism (the first thing to tank in a downturn) for its very solvency. Please don’t forget the added burden of a tragically underfunded and overpromised state pension system. Progressives now strive to add universal lunches and daycare to the crushing economic burdens. It is not just industrial agriculture that is unsustainable: Vermont is about to lose its artificial economy, and must create new economic growth rather than beggar for more handouts from a maxxed-out federal bureaucracy.

    • This is a very good article to read- now following this one here.
      It’s about what happens when cities are no longer financially viable. (and what about when entire states wind up this way?)
      Yes.. it’s true that many have fallen to this state.. Meatless Monday in NYC had nothing to do with saving the planet. They couldn’t afford the meat during the entire week.

      When I read this, which mentions NYC, I thought of Burlington.. I mean how many New Yawkers that did that to NYC are now living in Vermont and voting for all of what destroyed where they came from?

      Homeowners understand that you need to maintain your home all along the way..
      Or else one day your roof is about to cave in and the cost of repairs far outweighs the value of the house. It makes no sense anymore to even renovate. And you learn the hard way that you’d lost your entire investment.
      You’ve got a tear down now.
      I bet many have no idea that this can happen to cities too.
      When cities are robbed and so utterly corrupt, when the graft going on is so great, when so much money is going out to all the things promised.. (and how many were even worth it?)
      Then maintaining the infrastructure and doing the upgrades.. this all suffers and guess what eventually happens.
      I can imagine that Burlington, like so many cities today had a long list of to-dos that were pretty basic vital stuff.. and they spent all that money on electric buses.
      These are the decisions that makes cities wind up broke and derelict..
      Let this be a warning.. because this IS Happening.
      “Why some cities may no longer be viable”
      (this link might perhaps put you in the comments because that is where I was.. scroll upward for the article if that happens. I didn’t want to lose my place in the comments )

  5. Thank you for this thoughtful review of the Vermont legislative situation. It may be VT is one of the neediest pigs in the trough, but ALL states do it as best they can so the above detractors are just peeing in the wind. But, the point you make is sooo true, i.e., the progs of VT have wanted soo many programs that they have no idea how to pay for save the FED $, it has put the state in a very precarious position with Leahy and Bernie gearing up the trough.

  6. You sound devastated! We can’t wait for both of these Marxist traitors to leave our state. Seniority be damned. What have they done for the state except to turn it into a little bastion of Communism? Maybe there will be a dramatic right turn in Vermont when Vermonters finally figure out what is going on, not only in Vermont but the country, as well.

  7. Whaaaa? What are you thinking? That the purpose of a Senator is to go to DC and use Seniority to raid the Fed piggybank to suck as much money as possible back to VT? What happened to Senators shaping National policies? Further? WHY does VT deserve to get far more money, given free, as compared to the taxes VT sends into DC?. I hope you saved a “can” from your recycle bin….so you can practice “kicking it down the road” :)….FYI? Govt’s finance are in terrible shape. Last thing we needed was a $359 BILLION bill just signed for climate change? or how about $500 BILLION to forgive students loans, who ALL took worthless degress – it is THEIR fault?? How about National debt over $31 TRILLION? Or Medicare running out of money in the early 2030’s. Or? What about Social Security trust fund running out of money in a handful of years? …Leahy or no Leahy….the free gov’;t money to VT has to slow. In a normal year VT get’s about $2.5 billion, free. With COVID VT got well over $3 billion, free? It is why we have $31 trillion debt now. WHO, and how can we pay that? Contrary to your thoughts, it is time for all Senators to take the NATIONAL policy interest to address serious financial problems we have, not that far out. And you just clamor for a Senator to get more free money for VT?…and you worry only of this., quote: “How will Vermont receive $100 million to clean up Lake Champlain? Or get millions to build new wastewater lines throughout Vermont’s towns and cities? That is what is essential.”….Sorry free stuff won’t be there as much over time. VT has to buckle up and spend wisely now. Fat chance of that 🙂

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