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Douglas on Economy: "Going Quite Well" 

Published July 17, 2008 at 1:23 p.m.

This morning, the Times Argus followed up on yesterday's Blurt post by Shay Totten on Bill O'Reilly's ambush of Gov. Douglas in Philadelphia.

Shay alluded to Douglas coming off in a less-than-flattering light at the end of the segment, and I presumed he meant O'Reilly's characterization of the governor as weak on sexual predators.

Douglas' relative strength on the issue will likely become clearer when Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Vermont's laws regarding sex offenders begin next month. But I submit that the governor continues to show signs of delusion about the state of the economy in the Green Mountain State.

Via the transcript the TA helpfully appended to this morning's story:

WATTERS: I mean, how much damage in terms of international and nationalreputation. And Vermont's really getting a bad name after all thesecases, case after case after case.

DOUGLAS: Well, things are going quite well for us economically.

Apparently, Douglas hasn't seen the most recent issue of New England Economic Indicators, a monthly publication of the New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston, wherein the  Fed notes that "Vermont was one of New England's poorest-performing economies in 2007."

 As a metric of overall economic health, the state’s economic activity index grew a meager 0.9 percent between December 2006 and December 2007.  This was the slowest growth rate among New England states, and the Green Mountain State’s own worst performance since 2002.

It would be hard to believe that, even if the governor just hasn't hadtime to read a non-partisan analysis of the state's economy under hisleadership, he isn't aware of the same troubling indicators noted by the Fed: the loss of jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries; a decline in Vermont exports; the precipitous drop in housing prices and sales.

The Brooke Bennett tragedy, while worthy of introspection by Vermont's policymakers, has already shown its power to distract. It would be a shame if, in the coming election season, the political pandering over Vermont's treatment of sex offenders was to undermine a substantive discussion on the economy, which, contrary to Douglas' fact-challenged effort to change the subject in Philadelphia, is not going "quite well" at all.

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Brian Wallstin

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