Friday, April 18, 2014
Well, here he goes again -- "he" being our endlessly embarrassing governor, Paul LePage, who, on a recent radio rant about the Affordable Care Act, likened the IRS to the Gestapo! This was in reference to the penalty that people who refuse to buy competitively priced health insurance will be expected to pay once the mandate is in force.
Has the man no clue at all? His vitriolic, over-the-top, wacky tirade is really no surprise; however, it yet again shows how amazingly out of touch Maine's chief executive is.
What he and at least some of his tight-fisted, radically conservative followers either do not comprehend or, worse, even care to admit, is how every advanced, well-off country on this planet (except the United States) has a form of universal health care that a) covers everyone; b) is affordable; and c) is seen as a fundamental human right, not just a privilege.
The ultra-conservatives love to paint a "sky-is-falling" scenario about taxes allegedly rising sky high when what they call "Obamacare" kicks in. Are they hopelessly ignorant?
Insurance premiums keep climbing to the point where some companies that provide health insurance to their workers -- or individuals who struggle to buy it on their own -- can no longer afford such coverage.
How many of the critics of "Obamacare" would be satisfied to go bankrupt from crushing medical bills or perhaps not even be able to buy adequate health care if their coverage were no longer there for them?
I pray (yep, I'm a believer) that affordable health care does indeed become a reality for everyone. God bless the U.S. Supreme Court for its recent decision.
I understand that Gov. LePage, who recently wasted taxpayers' money on an unsuccessful challenge to the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court, does not intend to implement the ACA in Maine.
Might I inquire if he has actually read the ACA? Or is this another case of him dumping something he hasn't seen on the opinion of others -- like the mural that celebrated Maine's working past?
The Supreme Court's health care law ruling and Gov. LePage's latest remarks have once again gotten many of us thinking about the new law.
The law was passed exclusively by Democrats to solve two problems: health care that strains the ability of many to pay and lack of insurance coverage for many.
The Democrats believed that this law would provide solutions. It is a big gamble.
First, to hold down expenses, enough people must buy insurance. It is unclear whether the penalty ($695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater) is enough to accomplish that.
Second, it is conceivable that the expenses involved in implementing the law -- e.g., the insurance exchanges, the Medicaid expansion, the insurance subsidies -- could make it unsustainable, particularly in light of our $15.7 trillion debt.
Other questions yet to be answered are: Will the increased regulation cause fewer people to remain or become doctors? Will the reduction in reimbursements from Medicare significantly erode the quality of care? Will businesses have trouble expanding, given the costs they will have to absorb?
This is an awfully big law to have been enacted by one party. But the Democrats, apparently, were very sure of themselves.
You could argue that we Republicans could have done more from 2003 through 2006, controlling Congress and the White House as we did. That would be fair. But the Democrats pretty much shut the Republicans out in 2009-2010 when the law was being put together and passed.
I hope Republicans again control Congress and the White House in 2013 and that the health care law is repealed. And then Republicans need to act decisively to implement reforms that create meaningful change without so much downside risk.
With apologies to Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe -- "The stain on Maine is plainly in the Blaine."
"Metro columnist" Bill Nemitz's latest hate-filled screed on July 11 attacking Gov. Paul LePage -- "Mortified by a geyser of trash talk" -- mortified me because he mentions my hometown, Johnstown, Pa., and David McCullough's book, "The Johnstown Flood," in his first paragraph.
I was born and raised in Johnstown, with a coal mine in my backyard and the glow of the open hearth furnace from the steel mill in town a permanent part of the night sky.
And I can say unequivocally that the coal miners and steel workers of my youth in the 1950s and '60s -- and those of 1889 Johnstown Flood vintage -- were tough, hardworking, God-fearing, gun-loving, common-sense, patriotic Americans with conservative values who expected a handout from no one, had no time for pointy-headed intellectuals and respected straight-talking, like-minded folks.
They were mostly Democrats, but Paul LePage would have been the kind of guy they'd have gladly had a beer with at any of the bars in town, which were as numerous as the churches.
Regarding Bill Nemitz, the guys I grew up with would have seen him as a smart-aleck twit, and I think he'd have frequently gotten beaten up at school. And he'd have deserved it.
About the only line in Nemitz's rant where I find agreement is when he says, "I'm no David McCullough." Truer words were never spoken, and David McCullough, a western Pennsylvania boy, must surely be relieved.
Conservative readers are still waiting for The Portland Press Herald to give a conservative "metro columnist" the same editorial freedom that Bill Nemitz enjoys to run opinion pieces as "news."
I can only hope that his inevitable next hate-filled attack on Gov. LePage will keep my hometown out of it.
South Portland (but always a Johnstown, Pa., boy)
After seeing the bumper sticker "Mainers Embarrassed By Their Governor," I thought about how I would even begin to explain it to visiting friends and family from away. It seemed like an overwhelming task, but alas, Bill Nemitz hits a home run again.
I will make copies of his column "Mortified by a geyser of trash talk" and just pass it out when questions are asked. Nemitz certainly has a way with words, not to mention his command of current gubernatorial history.
After reading Bill Nemitz's column that showed a letter from Gov. LePage to a legislator calling him a "liar and a cheat," I became angry and worried about LePage.
Gov. LePage displayed his high-handed manner even before he took office. At first, his outlandish behavior was comical, and it made me laugh.
But with Nemitz's column, I was brought up short: Did Maine's highest elected official really use such disrespectful, cruel language? I had hoped he would change. He hasn't.
Gov. LePage embodies characteristics we associate with tyranny. He ignores and denigrates the measures voted on by the people and the Legislature based on his personal whims. He bullies legislators and state workers to get his way. He ignores federal mandates and stoops to name-calling.
Dictators can and do come out of democracies when people don't push back. Dictators may start slowly and only gradually grab power, but as history shows, they all too often succeed.
Gov. LePage is no longer a laughable bumpkin. His anti-democratic tactics make him downright scary. It's time to say no to such behavior or to "Turn Le Page."
Being a senior citizen, I felt Gov. LePage's comment that Rep. Chellie Pingree wants to support people continuing to live on government handouts was quite insulting ("LePage blasts Pingree's Medicaid stance," July 12).
I have lived in Maine my whole life, raised my family, supported the educational system, paid taxes and spent my money locally to help local businesses survive.
Now that I'm in my 70s, it appears that Gov. LePage is saying that we seniors don't matter. We not only helped to build this state, we also helped to build the country.
I don't consider myself to be receiving handouts because I now get Medicare and MaineCare. I live on a fixed income (one that didn't increase for three years, and that increase didn't cover one year's cost-of-living increase, let alone three). I reside in elderly housing and have worked hard to live within my budget.
And by the way, exactly what happened to the $50,000 that the state found a month or so ago? Haven't heard anything about that, either.
Sharon J. Shane
Let us give Gov. LePage a break. It is my understanding that Maine law requires the state to balance its budget. If so, this will not be an easy task. It will mean cuts in spending.
MaineCare (Medicaid) will very likely be carefully reviewed, along with other costly programs. The governor will have to make difficult decisions that will not be popular but are decisions he must make.
Recently I have reached the age of 89, and, with assets depleted, I now need assistance. (I didn't plan this!)
However, I believe that if MaineCare is carefully studied and reviewed and areas of misuse and overcost are identified and eliminated, it has a chance of survival. I hope so!
I do not see why Gov. LePage should be disparaging the people who put in a day's work down at the IRS. These are working folks who do the hard work of collecting the money that is put to use for the common good: roads, schools, air traffic control, stop signs, bridges, hospitals and, of course, the common defense.
Personally, I wish the IRS would permit me to designate the projects that the money goes to, as I am not thrilled by the idea of helping pay for a $2 million cruise missile or a $1 billion Aegis destroyer to launch that cruise missile at a defenseless city somewhere in Iraq, as happened in 2003. But I am aware that no system is perfect, and I am not going to be given that option.
Nonetheless, I consider the collection of taxes to be a necessary and thankless task that many good people are doing with dignity. Let the governor go out for a day and ask people for some money to pave the street in front of his house, and I bet you we will see him sing a different tune.