Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: In a magic mood

Al Diamon

Let’s consider the unimaginable. Let’s pretend Republican Gov. Paul LePage is a rational human being with some semblance of political skill.

Also, fairies are real, Tim Tebow is a decent baseball player and the paper industry will be returning to East Millinocket next month with even more high-paying jobs.

Alas, none of that is true, particularly with regard to LePage, who regularly torpedoes his own agenda by acting like a petulant child. Ironically, these outbursts are far more effective at killing his proposals than are the dithering Democrats.

Take taxes for example. The governor has long advocated eliminating the state income tax and balancing the budget with spending cuts and an expanded sales tax. That’s not a ridiculous idea. Such a plan would shift a significant portion of the tax bite onto tourists. It would encourage retirees to remain in Maine. And while such a tax realignment would place a burden on the poor, there are plenty of ways that could be mitigated. With a little negotiating, there’s no reason at least some of LePage’s vision couldn’t be realized.

Except for LePage himself, who’s never been willing to settle for partial victory. He’d rather endure a total loss than be perceived as settling for less than he demanded. “If you want to play chicken,” he said in a radio interview just prior to the state-shutdown deadline, “let’s play chicken.”

He actually vetoed two budgets that contained income-tax cuts, because they weren’t as large as he wanted. If not for his hardline stance, it’s likely the tax bill in Maine would be smaller than it is.

Education reform? With a little give and take, an imaginary LePage could have adroitly persuaded a dozen or so House Democrats to give a statewide teacher contract a tentative try, thereby fulfilling a major campaign promise.

Mining regulation? A fantasy governor might have fully engaged in the two-year-long debate, subtly edging the rules in a direction more favorable to industry. LePage merely sulked, and the enviros took control.

Drug abuse? The best the guv has been able to do is successfully veto an occasional bill designed to combat the opioid epidemic. A magic chief executive would have perceived how easy it would be to increase law-enforcement spending if he also agreed to at least some expanded treatment options.

Welfare? Only a troll would use asylum seekers as punching bags. Only an ogre would vilify immigrants with dark skins. Only a bogeyman refuses to acknowledge that the problem with public assistance is not the vast majority of the people who receive it, but rather the system that provides it so ineptly. Sir Paul the Virtuous and Intelligent would rally bipartisan troops to slay that dragon and replace it with aid for the truly needy.

In all these cases, it’s important to remember that Lord LePage the Tempestuous and Intemperate isn’t necessarily wrong in his proposals for solving problems. School costs do need to be brought under control. Environmental regulations do need to allow job creators to function. Drug dealers do need to be arrested and imprisoned. And public assistance does need to focus on helping low-income people break the cycle of poverty.

It’s not what the governor stands for that’s wrong. It’s his refusal to stand down from unnecessary confrontation.

If LePage had any grasp of how the political process works, he’d have laid the groundwork for his platform by consulting with both friends and foes before crafting solutions. This would’ve allowed him to determine if there were areas where all parties agreed or if there were items on which some compromise might be possible. Then, rather than driving his sword into a stone and swearing to never give ground, he could offer up measures that had a reasonable chance of passage, although possibly in amended form.

He’d get some of what he wanted, instead of almost none. And it would be easier on his sword.
But LePage believes in absolute monarchy, a system of government that has worked out only slightly better for him then it did for Macbeth.

Or as Shakespeare put it, “Who can be wise, amaz’d, temperate and furious/Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man.”

That character is fictional. If only LePage were, too.

Bring me back to reality by emailing

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18 Responses »

  1. Al,

    Governor Lepage is terming get that part right? He was elected twice. The libs in Maine could not muster a candidate to do the deed. What has happened is Governor Lepage, slowed the expansion of welfare, cut property taxes, stopped the disastrous expansion of Medicare and pretty much did what he campaigned on. Maines welfare utopia has been exposed for what it is, a complete rip off of anyone paying taxes in Maine. Thankfully, many of us want to change our tax and waste mentality in disgusta. Not everyone wants Maine to degenerate into the circus act we see on display in Portland. Our new normal doesn't include transgender grade school kids, safe places for heroin addicts to use or hand outs to potential muslum terrorists claiming both sanctuary and a taxpayer hand out to boot. Have a good day.

  2. Peter - I usually resist entering the political fray in the Bulldog, but there is a meanness to your post that is breathtaking in its vitriol. As a Farmington native (I still love Farmington) , but a Portland resident for many years, I protest that Portland is a circus act. Your comments simply aren't true. "Potential Muslim terrorists?" Really? You know that how? "Transgender grade school kids?" What would you have us do with transgender people, or do you believe sexuality is a choice? You seem to have a lot to worry and be angry about. I'm so liberal that I try to respectfully consider and honor every person's position, but your rant makes me worry about what you might be capable of. I'm glad you're not my neighbor.

  3. Le Page, the pre-Trump.

  4. Everything peter said is spot on. You can't blame him for being angry after reading another whining rant from Al. At least there was no childish mention of beer in this one so they're getting better.

  5. Captain (underpants),

    Perhaps Peter and you have a brilliant solution for replacing our aging population and fixing other systemic problems in our economy. Fortunately, we are better positioned than Appalachia to withstand what's next as our economy continues to evolve, but there are some telling lessons to be learned from their struggles.

    If you don't like our circus, you'd be ok if we reapportioned tax dollars, keeping our fair share down here? After all, we worked for it- innovated it- and darn well don't need you complaining about how we choose to spend the portion we don't ship to Augusta to aid your lack of contribution.

    Love thy neighbor used to be something respectful people did; apparently your upbringing lacked that socialization.

    I would tip a glass with Al (or Laura) any day to that.

  6. Brian please elaborate why you feel 'underpants' is a relevant comment. I'm confused but I'm guessing it reveals the immaturity of a snowflake...

  7. Captain, it's difficult to address people who lack the conviction in their argument to use a pseudonym. My apologies. But that snowflake thing . . . well, if that's code for employed, cares about your neighbors and doesn't blame some boogeyman for my 'failures', I'll take it. I know a number of Muslim folks, and I can assure you they are harder working, smarter, more compassionate and much more resourceful than people who make reckless generalizations about them. If someone is eating your lunch, take it back. Or continue to get by on the crumbs left behind by more resourceful folks.

  8. Captain, while you had no problem dissing transgender folks or referring to Muslims as possible terrorists, I've not heard a cogent word from you. About that tax thing... ok for us to go our own ways, or would you prefer to remain dependent on others to pay your way? Doesn't sound so good when you realize the reality, if that's your idea of fairness and equity.

  9. One reason and thing I have always liked about Mainers and this part of Maine is that the people have been taking care of themselves since they settled here. One of the reasons they moved here was to get away from being told
    " what to do "
    Now that we are all educated we don't need any of those old ways, or old ways of thinking.
    Just keep raising taxes and eventually everything will be fixed.

  10. Looks like being over taxed for programs that aren't working, overtaxed by people who adjust their own salaries, benefits, retirement, and in general using public funds in an irresponsible and unaccountable way is causing dissention among the troops. Maybe a revolution is in sight!

  11. So, why can the referendum to tax those making more than $200K be cast aside although it was passed by the voters?

    "...LePage got what he wanted: the elimination of a $20 million lodging tax increase, and 3 percent tax increase on the wealthy. Many progressives saw the final negotiations as less of a compromise and more of an ultimatum that went against the will of the voters.

    "The voters wanted more progressive taxation to pay for public education," wrote Jon Hinck, a former House Rep. "Due to the determined obstruction of our Governor and his band of House Republicans, we got spending commitments with no revenue aside from what is raised from Maine's middle class under the unfortunate current tax scheme. The Governor's win at the game of chicken harms the people who put him in office."

    For now, the question that will likely remain in the minds of many frustrated Democrats and Senate Republicans is simply why? Why did the House GOP risk the livelihoods of working Mainers to protect the financial interest of the state’s most wealthy? Why did they push so hard to cut the education investment in half? Why did Rep. Tom Windsor (R-Norway) say that there’s nothing unusual about these budget negotiations?

    And most perplexing of all, why did they vote against a compromise which nearly every Senate Republican supported, and included every provision they originally wanted, without a clear explanation?

    “It’s the million-dollar question,” said Russell. “These folks got everything they wanted, but they still shut the government down and can’t articulate why they did it. It’s disgusting and unconscionable.”

    “If you want to build an economy that works for everyone, you have to have a system of government that represents everyone, and right now we clearly don’t.”

  12. Brian,

    How many alleged refugee immigrants have committed terrorist acts in the US ? Enough where you should take notice. That stat will answer your suggestion that terrorists and muslums are somehow disjointed. Two false assumptions in this collection of posts, one being that schools have become some sort of sacred cow Immune from fiscal responsibility and welfare nation is our collective cross to bear because we work for a living. Both wrong in so many ways. Maine taxpayers have had enough already. The circus act you see in some of these Maine cities is not our fate if we cut off the cash going to augusta. Just like the schools that want more and more while serving fewer and fewer. Also, the welfare machine is an increasing burden on Maines taxpayers, its expansion appears to be part of the liberal playbook. Is there any answer to Maines ills that don't include free something from the government?atr you surprised Mainers are finally waking up to the mess liberals have created and expect us to keep paying for. Until these two failing systems are reigned in, the prospects for Maines dwindling middle class appear somewhat dim. You can expect your friends and neighbors to be saying no to higher taxes for welfare and education.

  13. Peter......... When did he lower my property taxes? Since he took office my mill rate has almost quadrupled. And not expanding medicaid.. not taking back our federal tax money to provide health insurance to needy people? Stupid.

  14. Peter, the chance of dying in a terrorist attack is about equal to a shark attack. Timothy McVeigh was not Muslim. It's the cost of an open society, and vetting of folks from these areas is and should be strong.

    The welfare argument is not applicable to refugees. The unemployment rate amongst them is half of what it is for native Mainers. In fact, they frequently fulfill jobs we are too 'privileged' to take in agriculture, or too I'll prepared to take (developing these phones). However, they cannot work when they arrive. Refugees coming to the US is a federal issue, and not allowing them to work is an unfunded mandate, to be sure. But if you're suggesting $5M USD in a $7B budget is killing our state, it's analogous to the deposit on a nip bottle making the purchase cost prohibitive.

    So once again, what is your solution to position the state's economy for the next 20 years? I only hear your ideas in problems, both real and perceived, and fears.

  15. Ethan,

    Expanding medicad is a liberal ploy to get more of welfare nation on the dole. Governor LePage was smart to avoid this pitfall and keep Maine out of the obummer care train wreck. Having more folks welfare dependent is how the Dems in Maine get votes. Keeping the welfare rolls low is what makes folks look for work. The government is not supposed to carry you, that responsibility is your own not your neighbors. We have Somalis coming to Maine from other states in the US because our welfare benifits are above average. Do the math on that one and enjoy the day.


  16. I have said it more than once, but sometimes, my responses don't get published. LePage is a temper tantrum just waiting to happen. He has little self control. I am going to vote Democrat all the way from now on, after having him in office for 8 sickening years

  17. Go ahead and vote one party all the time.
    But don't expect to have your opinions to be taken seriously.
    What a waste...

  18. Peter:

    Did you ever read the ACA?? Do you know why Medicaid was expanded under the ACA? It was not a "liberal ploy" to get people dependent on the government. That's just dumb. Medicaid expansion was a necessary part of the ACA to get people covered whom could not afford any form of free market health insurance. Its to get them out of the market completely so they do not burden the health Insurance companies, to insure that customers premiums stay affordable. When the Gov did not expand Medicaid, the people who would qualify for Medicaid had to buy their insurance on the exchange, therefore taxing the exchange program and sending our premiums even higher. People need to take the time and read the laws, not regurgitate something they hear third hand. And you are wrong about the role of government, its to protect and serve us. Don't get ,me wrong, liberals piss me off too, but ignorance is killing this state.