Jasper Craven on the Heritage Foundation

by John McClaughry

Last Monday Vermont Digger  released a “special report” on how the conservative Heritage Foundation is pushing its agenda of less government to the Trump administration. .

Why, yes, that’s what think tanks do, on all sides of the political spectrum. Heritage pioneered this with its 1980 Mandate for Leadership, that influenced the Reagan administration.

Reporter Jasper Craven writes breathlessly that the Heritage budget plan threatens “air quality, education, free lunch programs in schools, road maintenance and more. Rural farmers and businesses would lose access to grants and loans, and job training programs would dry up. Taken in total, the cuts would fall the hardest on the state’s most vulnerable. As for the leaders at the Heritage Foundation, the cuts would fulfill major pillars of the organization’s core mission: Reduce the national debt and the role of government.”

What escapes Craven is that his friends on the Left have no idea whatever about how to curb the rapidly rising national debt, at least beyond confiscating as much of the wealth of the unworthy rich as possible before they move away.

The ratio of Federal debt owed to the public – now approaching $20 Trillion – to Gross Domestic Product went from 63% at Obama’s inauguration to 105% today – well past the danger benchmark for governments heading toward insolvency.

To borrow a term from the terror-stricken Left, this is completely unsustainable, as our children and grandchildren are bound to discover, probably sooner than later.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

H. Brooke Paige March 3, 2017 at 7:14 am

Only A Matter of Time !

Jasper Craven is a neophyte political operative posing as a cub reporter. Everything he writes exudes his zeal for the left. While VTDigger receives a lot of praise for their independence and investigative reporting, all too often their work reflects the liberal left agenda of their editor, Anne Galloway and publisher, Diane Zeigler. With the exception of guest op/ed writers, nothing that VTDigger produces could ever be mistaken as conservative. Now none of this would be a “problem” if VTDigger, actually the Vermont Journalism Trust, was being operated as a for profit media organization, however that is not the case.

VTDIgger proports to operate as a 501(c) 3 non-profit and in return for its special IRS tax treatment it is expected to operate within the IRS guidelines:

“The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.” (Updated: 13-Sep-2016)


As one of many candidates for statewide office that has been ignored and occasionally maligned by VTDigger, I can personally attest to their bias in favor of their chosen candidates, parties and political agendas. Understand that a commercial media ventures, under the freedoms of the First Amendment, are at liberty to report on candidates and political parties as they see fit, however VTDigger by virtue of their decision to avail themselves of the special tax treatment as a 501 (c) 3 limits their rights to favor one candidate or party over another.

VTDigger’s biased reporting and editorial partisan flair is more in line with the less restrictive IRS rules governing a 527 Political Organization. It is only a matter of time until a disgruntled candidate(s) or political party which has been sufficiently mistreated by VTDigger decides to file a 13909 “referral” with the IRS challenging VTDigger’s tax exempt status.


William Hays March 4, 2017 at 2:10 am

I thought it was only me. I have noticed a definite skew to the left in VTDigger reportage. Having been blocked, without notification or explanation, from commenting, I have waited, with ‘bated breath, for an explanation, and perhaps a reinstatement date. No joy.I hang in, hoping for more info on the EB-5 debacle in the NEK, but that news is petering out. The most recent news is disturbing, regarding Phil Scott. Could he be a RINO? He doesn’t seem to be a friend of my President Trump. Also, the “Three Stooges” (Leahy, Sanders, and Welch) seem to be getting a lot more ink for their bullsh*t.. I hope this is only a temporary aberration at VTDigger.


Izzy Simons March 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm

If anyone cares on this, it was Reagan that tripled the nation debt in the 80s, and then doubled again by W Bush in the 2000s. Not exactly lefties.

Also, if you look at the US national debt as a percentage of GDP, it’s almost 76%. If you look at other countries like France at 97% of GDP, and Japan at 240% of GDP.
It is important to put our nation debt in perspective while adressing the needs of our people, and should not be an excuse not to.


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