Friday, July 13, 2012

Chellie Pingree, Thank You for Representing Us

While controversy swirls around Governor LePage’s “Gestapo” comments and his subsequent digging a deeper hole for his poor reputation, some may think that his attacks on First Congressional District United States Representative Chellie Pingree might be his way of trying to divert attention from himself. It is doubtful that is the case. Instead, while the Governor has a great deal of attention, he has decided to strut his negative stuff in an egotistical bid for even more notice.

Paul LePage has littered his letters and press releases with the following invectives in the past few days:

“Pingree has made it crystal clear that she’s siding with the Obama Administration over the people of Maine.”

“She’s part of big bloated government…”

…you have become part of the jet-setting Washington culture…

“Your title says that you are a Representative from Maine, but apparently you prefer to represent the power of bureaucrats…”

“…you sing from the same old songbook…”

“I write to ensure you that her [Rep. Pingree] position does not represent the State of Maine…”

The Governor’s case against Chellie Pingree rests completely on the matter of representation. He believes that stripping Maine residents of health care access protections is his mandate; Representative Pingree believes Maine residents deserve those protections in today’s fragile economy.

It is a tragic travesty that Paul LePage with his 38% plurality, strong arm tactics in getting his way with a deeply divided State Legislature, and anger driven agenda believes that lecturing one of our United States Representatives in his bullying manner carries more weight in representing Maine people than Chellie Pingree’s 55% majority in her contest and the genuine concerns she has expressed. The Governor also said that “the government closest to the people is the one that governs best.” While he was obviously attempting to set up a typical right wing divisive state versus federal government argument, it is actually Representative Chellie Pingree who in this case embodies the “government” closest to the people and is acting in their best interests.

Paul LePage, by virtue of being the Governor with the loudest disrespectful and crass words does not represent all of the people of Maine and his approval numbers have certainly indicated that he does not even represent a majority. Chellie Pingree is working very hard at actual real representation to address real needs and concerns.

Thank you Chellie for representing Maine.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tax Boogeyman for President!

Mitt Romney and all those running down ballot in the Republican column are convincing themselves that the upholding of the Affordable Care Act has a poisonous silver lining: taxes.
Supreme Court Justice John Roberts decided that the penalties for not purchasing mandated health insurance coverage are a tax and therefore Constitutional. After Republicans thrashed Roberts verbally and even pushed their shrill rhetoric to include one of their favorite wind-up toys, high crimes and misdemeanors free impeachment, they got back to their cynical and selfish selves to reframe the battle for health care to be all about taxes. The bottom line for the GOP on health care is neither solutions that extend coverage for the US population nor an alternative vision of true affordability and access, especially for the poor.
Maine Republican Chair Charlie “bus-watcher” Webster was quick out of the gate with the newly improved GOP attack-du-jour:
“I thought Obama said he would never raise taxes on the middle class. Well, this is obviously another bait and switch tactic the Democrats used to push their tax, borrow, and spend agenda on the American people, when all along they said this was ‘not a tax’.”
Will voters fall for an anti-tax line again?
Frankly it remains to be seen since Citizens United basically allows unlimited money to pour into our politics. Even should there be widespread support for the Affordable Care Act, it’s just from mere people not the self-important elitist financial interests with the most cash. And cash spends pretty easy and with more pronounced results tearing down something as a tax versus making an articulated case for fulfilling a genuine need in our society that requires fair investment support.
However, at the very core of this debate, one thing is visibly lacking: a viable Republican alternative. Anyone giving reasoned review to the GOP mantra about competition knows that it just leads to the high deductable, low benefit equation that benefits insurance interests’ bottom lines and only results in competition for the largest chunk of poor and middle class’s wallets in their struggle to avoid the gambling chance of medical bankruptcy. And the other GOP standard fencepost, competition between the states, is really about being able to buy into the worse levels of regulation from states that care less about their citizens and are more in political pocket of big insurance.
The bitter truth is that health care is not really a Republican priority; it neither fits with their market worship of picking winners and losers nor their “got mine, you’re on your own” attitude of class warfare. The anti-tax party is exposed once again as the anti-people party. We have not seen anything creative dedicated to health care delivery since the 2006 “Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care” in Massachusetts under then Governor Mitt Romney. But, hey, why go there?