I was surprised and disappointed to see the Portland Press Herald publish a column by Rep. Lawrence Lockman of Amherst, “Maine Voices: Legislature’s Democrats failing to make good-faith effort at compromise” (Oct. 22). The column is filled with tea party misinformation, false personal attacks and misleading claims.
Again and again, we’ve seen tea party politicians like Lockman push the politics of brinksmanship over standing up for working families in Maine.
Lockman rails against Democrats and Republicans for passing a responsible budget. By working together, lawmakers avoided a state shutdown, restored cuts to our schools and towns and made sure critical funds were available to help seniors and people with disabilities pay for their medicine and care. The tea party might not like it, but those are wins for the people we represent.
Lockman also personally attacks Speaker of the House Mark Eves for leading the charge to expand health care for tens of thousands of working Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans. Speaker Eves and Democrats in the Legislature have championed health care for Mainers because no family should go bankrupt or lose their home in the face of mounting health care bills. We believe every family should be able to go to the family doctor when they are sick. Health care is a right, not a privilege.
The federal government has offered to pay 100 percent of the cost of expanding health care for low-income Mainers. Democrats and most of the citizens in our state want Maine to take that offer. Yet tea party Republicans like Lockman have made one excuse after another to deny and delay health care for working people in our state. They will even launch false personal attacks on their opponents to justify their arguments.
As elected officials in a citizen Legislature, we are expected to vigorously debate the issues, but launching false personal attacks crosses the line. Now more than ever, we need more civil debate, not less.