Archive for November 2010
Published in TCT on October 7, 2010
By Peter A. Steele
Pundits and pollsters are still scratching their heads at the rise of regular, everyday people who are gaining steam as the mid-term elections rapidly approach.
These “experts” are still perplexed at this nationwide, grassroots movement by the people to reject traditional politicians and to propel ordinary, hard-working folks into the halls of U.S. government.
They need not be perplexed. They just need to attend some of the political rallies happening all across the country—the events they are too quick to ridicule as unsophisticated or ignorant. We attended one of these events, and we realized exactly where this movement is coming from.
Published in TCT on June 24, 2010
By Peter A. Steele
We still cringe when someone calls us “conservative.” That must get a laugh from many of our readers, but it’s true.
Your editor grew up in the most outlandishly liberal town on the Eastern Seaboard, Provincetown, a place in which the political spectrum stretches only from far-left extremism to moderate Democrat. Anything to the slightest right of that was considered evil and ugly and just plain wrong. When people spoke of anyone who was conservative, they practically spat the word and looked like someone just fed them rotten fish.
No one ever explained why being “conservative” was so wrong—it just was.
“Reinventing Maine Government” is a new report that details how overspending on Maine government is contributing to the state’s poor economy. All of the usual suspects are there: overspending on welfare, education and health care; a state government and legislature that is far too big; a weak county system; enormous debt and immense unfunded liabilities.
But this report lays out these problems in an easy-to-read, well-researched manner that hits you like a slap in the face. We all know intuitively that Maine government spends far more than it should. The most revealing conclusion in the report shows that if Maine government just brought its spending down to the national average for similar rural states, it would reduce the budget by a billion dollars a year. A billion dollars!
Considering the Maine state budget is just over $6 billion, overspending by a billion dollars is a huge amount. From 2002 to 2007, the Baldacci Administration and the Democratic-controlled legislature continued to add debt, add to the government payroll, add to the welfare rolls, add to unfunded liabilities, add staff to schools, add, add, add, cost after cost. It’s at the breaking point.
“Reinventing Maine Government” is a new report that details how overspending on Maine government is contributing to the state’s poor economy. The most revealing conclusion in the report shows that if Maine government just brought its spending down to the national average for similar rural states, it would reduce the budget by a billion dollars a year.
That won’t be easy to do. To accomplish that, Mainers need to let go of some myths that they still cling to. Here are the 10 myths detailed in the report. (See much more detail in the report at www.envisionmaine.org.)
One of the first things that Mainers need to do, if real change is going to happen in government, is to confront our tendency to operate in a kind of ‘fact-free’ zone.
Mainers cling to cherished myths and argue them as though they were inscribed on stone tablets brought down from high mountains. These myths come from different sources. Some arise from ideological or partisan positions, superstitions and sometimes from plain wishful thinking. Whatever the source, they have long served as powerful brakes against Maine moving forward.
Here are a few of the most common myths that stand in our way.
“Reinventing Maine Government,” a bipartisan report by Envision Maine that was released in September, details how overspending on Maine government is contributing to the state’s poor economy.
According to the report, these are the guiding principles that our elected officials should use while creating a 21st century government. (See much more detail in the report at www.envisionmaine.org.)
For Maine governments to become more efficient and modern, we’ll need a fundamentally new approach to how it’s organized and what it does.
1. Adjust Our Expectations of Government
To the Editor:
After hearing from many constituents about their dilemma in understanding recent property tax hikes, I contacted Auburn Hall, hoping for a clear explanation for these increases. I was told simply that corner lots have higher values than lots that are not on corners.
I had a difficult time squaring this with what we had been told repeatedly during the budget process: the city’s property valuation had remained the same as previous years. Then why this increase?
To the Editor:
Thank you for your editorial (“Paul LePage wins: the people weren’t fooled,” p. 3, November 4, 2010).
It was clear and forthright, making it easy to say where I agree and where I don’t. I agree that many people are angry, disappointed with government and frustrated. They are also fearful of the future.
A fearful electorate is dangerous to the common good. Fearful people tend to swing to extremes in hope of getting their needs met.
I do not believe in either big government or small government. I believe in good government.
To the Editor:
The State of Maine is poised to realize the benefits of a Republican governor, as well as majorities in the State Senate and House of Representatives. Time will tell if the Republicans will be successful in their governance. But it is very safe to say that most anything will be an improvement over the last 46 years of Democrat control.
When the sun illuminates the Capitol Dome in Augusta on swearing-in day in early December, we will see the fiscal carnage left behind by folks with such well-known names as Baldacci, Rotundo, Craven and Wagner. A pension fund that is in a nearly $5 billion hole. A budget that looks to be $1.2 billion under water going into the next budget cycle.
A horrific state debt of over $9 billion (plus interest!). One in four Mainers on welfare. Unpaid bills to Maine’s hospitals nearing a half-billion dollars.
As a lifelong Democrat who has deviated on only a couple of occasions to vote for Republicans or Independents, I was deeply angered at the trash that my party put out only a couple of weeks before the recent gubernatorial election.
When it became clear that Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler was surging in polls and surpassing Democratic candidate Libby Mitchell, the Maine Democratic Party went on the attack of spreading lies and deception to attempt to influence the vote. As a Maine Democrat, I am mad and thoroughly disgusted at the tactics that my party employed.
Never have I seen my Maine Democratic Party operate in this fashion. This certainly isn’t the party of Ed Muskie, Frank Coffin, George Mitchell, Joe Brennan, Mike Michaud and others from years past who would not have allowed what happened in this recent election.
By Peter A. Steele
Reflecting a national trend of anger and frustration at Democratic incumbents, Republicans swept the statewide elections Tuesday, installing a Republican governor in Augusta and providing him with Republican majorities in both the state Senate and House of Representatives.
Republicans now have 20 of the 35 seats in the Senate and at least 76 of 151 seats in the House, establishing a firm majority in both bodies. The election gives Republicans complete control of Augusta for the first time in decades.
But it appeared for a short time on Tuesday night that Mainers had chosen another independent as governor. Then Republican Paul LePage came from behind to edge out independent candidate Eliot Cutler in an extremely tight race to win the governor’s seat. Androscoggin County voters chose LePage by a much wider margin.