Independent Eliot Cutler and Republican Gov. Paul LePage both recently joined me for interviews as part of a Web video series we’re calling “The Robinson Report.” I extended a similar invitation to U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, the Democratic candidate. But, rather predictably, his staff told me he’s too busy.
In the spirit of open political discourse, I present to you, dear reader, the questions I would have asked Mr. Michaud:
• As you know, Maine’s elected officials have a long tradition of spearheading seminal legislation. Sen. Ed Muskie wrote the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Sen. Susan Collins rewrote the U.S. national security framework after 9/11.
But throughout your 12 years in Congress, you have yet to introduce a bill that later became law. Do you wish you’d done more with your time in Congress?
• On the eve of your vote in favor of the controversial Affordable Care Act, you issued a statement saying, essentially, this bill isn’t perfect, but it’s a good start.
You also said you were “already” working on legislation to fix some of the ACA’s problems. How is that work coming? Did you ever sponsor legislation to bring about those changes you promised?
• During more than 30 years representing the good people of northern Maine, including 12 years in Washington, D.C., you were pro-life. Now that you’re running for statewide office, you’ve switched positions.
You now support abortion and have been endorsed by pro-abortion interest groups. You’ve even said you support taxpayer-funded abortions. Your campaign has called this an evolution. In nature, animals evolve to survive. Is it fair to say that your own “evolution” on the issue of abortion is a matter of political survival?
• As a congressman, you held a conservative view of the Second Amendment and were on quite friendly terms with the National Rifle Association. Indeed, your congressional campaign websites often touted these facts. Yet your NRA endorsement and defense of gun rights don’t appear on your gubernatorial campaign website or literature.
Has your position on gun rights changed at all now that you’re running for governor? What changes would you like to see made in Maine’s current gun laws?
• In your 2002 economic development plan for the 2nd District, you wrote of the east-west highway: “There is probably no single thing that Congress could do that will provide more economic benefit to the Second District than the building of this road.”
Given that you have received endorsements from environmental groups opposed to the east-west highway, do you still believe that the road should be built? Do you believe it should be built with taxpayer support? If not, why has your opinion changed?
• In that same 2002 plan, you wrote: “At the federal level I will work to lower taxes on people in the Second District.” In Congress, you voted for dozens of tax increases, and the “Maine Made” plan you released does not say anything about lowering taxes for anyone. Have you changed your mind about the benefits of keeping taxes low?
• Again, going back to your 2002 plan, you wrote: “All the economists you could fit in the Second District could not convince me that ongoing large federal deficits are good for the economy.” Yet you went on to vote for a litany of spending bills which contributed to the debt and deficit, the largest of which was the $840 billion Recovery Act.
Has your opinion on public deficits changed? As governor, would you support high levels of deficit spending, as you have at the federal level?
• Fast-forwarding a little bit: In May, I asked you whether you accept any responsibility for the Veterans Affairs health care system corruption scandal. You avoided answering my question, saying it’s not a “political issue.”
Since then, both the Ellsworth American and the Portland Press Herald have published editorials saying that you are, indeed, one of the people responsible for the failed oversight and that it is, in fact, relevant to your campaign.
Do you believe that you fulfilled your obligation to provide oversight of the VA system? Do you accept any responsibility for the corruption scandal that unfolded while you were serving as the ranking member of the VA Committee?
• Mike Violette and Ken Altshuler host the most popular morning news radio show in Maine. Ken Altshuler says he’s been called a homophobe for saying that you were a coward for not coming out as gay until now.
You have subsequently refused to come on the WGAN Morning News despite many invitations. Do you believe that Ken Altshuler is a homophobe?
Steven E. Robinson is editor of TheMaineWire.Com and a policy analyst for the Maine Heritage Policy Center. He can be contacted at: