Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson

LePage’s second try at governing is underway.

As observed in this term’s inaugural prayer, we, as a democracy, have been blessed with choosing our own leadership. Given that, Mainers chose to re-elect Paul LePage as their governor.

Freedom isn’t always to choose wisely. That said, providence supposedly works in mysterious ways.

LePage opened his inaugural address with sincere thanks to all those that defied the pundits, remarking that Mainers want “action” not words. They want good paying jobs and affordable energy and a lean government that can work together and deliver the goods.

They communicated these desires by re-electing a governor who hasn’t provided many good paying jobs, or affordable energy, and who has demonstrated it’s either his way or any of the rapidly deteriorating state highways of your choice.

He reported that, “We have the infrastructure for natural gas,” “now we have to get gas to fill the pipe.” Cart before the horse.

What we have plenty of is offshore wind energy awaiting harnessing, but, during his first term, LePage told its most capable harvester to take a hike. His way showed innovative energy development the door, citing, correctly, its burden to ratepayers. Nose despite face.

He rightly submitted that Mainers want lower taxes, as if anyone couldn’t call that coin toss. Despite his bringing about Maine’s “largest tax cut,” that isn’t enough for Maine’s “hard working.” Perhaps, because it went mostly to those most well off already.

To those not working, or hardly working, or working and hardly surviving, he promised that now there will be “no more handouts.” This from a guy who gets free rent. He even joked: “ Don’t sell the Blaine House.”

His way to improve the welfare of Mainers is to eliminate welfare, as already prioritized in his first term. He then took a bow for having cut welfare “in half,” a testament, somehow, to his having not forgotten his “roots.” Exactly what his logic in that statement might be he didn’t say. Maybe, that he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and compassionately wants everyone else to have no choice but to do the same, and if they can’t then that is still better, somehow.

Sounding so very 1970s, “Welfare to Work” is the operative game plan. “Let’s not argue about minimum wage,” just get people off the teat and into “productive work.” Of course, the most productive work is that costing the employer the least overhead, even if that work doesn’t provide a roof overhead for the employee.

LePage gets that, genuinely encouraging employment that speaks to a living wage, and to do that Maine needs to attract “multi-national employers” that can provide what the backbone of Maine’s economy, small business, continues to have difficulty solving. Still, let’s continue assisting their entrepreneur rewarding success, while waiting for real wage providers to arrive.

“Prosperity over poverty” was LePage’s inaugural mantra, with corporate accommodation stressed as the secret sauce to Maine’s economic turnaround. Plentiful cheap energy, “Now, not 20 years from now,” and improved transportation infrastructure need be availed to those that will come to a Maine that is “not the adversary in business, but a partner in business.”

“States with the fastest growth have the lowest taxes and lower-est energy costs,” “and that’s not a coincidence,” proclaimed LePage. Here is where Google facts make for interesting apples and oranges confusion.

The “fastest growing” top ten list and the states with the ten lowest taxes only actually share three states: Wyoming, South Dakota and Texas. The “cheapest energy” list shared two: Colorado and Nebraska.

Meanwhile, energy costs in Maine are actually lower than in Texas. Go figure.

LePage adamantly wants to eliminate the state income tax, making Maine the eighth state to do so, though only two of those states are of the 10 fastest-growing economies.

Reducing taxes. Check. Improving infrastructure of energy and transportation. Check. So, who is going to write the check to pay for enticing big business, so paychecks might rise?

LePage says increased sales taxes will provide the offset. No mention of collateral property tax increase, or that income taxes are progressive and sales taxes, though “flat,” are deceptively repressive, another tax break for the rich.

What good does eliminating income tax do for those on a fixed income scared stiff about keeping their home and the rising cost of every item purchased?

LePage mouthed that the 127th legislature must work together and that “My door is open,” but his inaugural demeanor, though often jovial, remained, principally, combative and anger managed as ever. LePage’s partisan support applauded wildly while his partisan opposition remained, mostly, hands inactive.

Combative anger is understandable from someone who’s endured constant ridicule by those that can’t abide his unapologetically rude tunnel vision for enriching Maine. Disappointing as those dynamics are, Paul LePage is whom Maine has re-chosen to manage, or mismanage, its next four years. As LePage’s inarguably still divisive second inaugural plainly provoked: “Well folks, we’re back.”


Gary Anderson lives in Bath.

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