Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a record 178 bills and had 122 of them, 70 percent, overturned, a new record. Smart or not smart?

Phil: The way I see it, that means we have 56 fewer laws on the books than we would have had. However that happens, I am all for less government. Smart.

Ethan: Not smart. Most of these vetoes were simply out of spite, and the Legislature was smart to overturn so many of them. The governor has sadly (or perhaps for the good) made himself somewhat irrelevant.

Phil: Irrelevant? Everyone hangs on every word the man says. More people since the days of Gov. James Longley are now tuned into how government works.

Ethan: More like they are tuned into how government shouldn’t work.

Republican Rep. Larry Dunphy joined Democratic Rep. Stanley Short as the two legislators who left their respective parties this session. Smart or not smart?


Ethan: Hard to say. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone their right to register as they choose. That said, people elected you as one thing and now you are deciding you are something else. I think you owe it to the people who elected you to stay in your party until the next election. So I’m going to say not smart.

Phil: Did you feel the same in 2004 when Republican Sen. Art Mayo joined your Democratic caucus (only a month after the election), turning a razor-thin one-seat majority into a comfortable three-seat cushion?

Ethan: Welcomed him with open arms!

Phil: Thought so. I agree, both then and now, with your not smart. You run and are elected claiming to govern in keeping with your party philosophy. Once you switch, supporters and constituents feel betrayed, as Mayo learned when he was defeated by a Republican two years later.

Ethan: I would add that I think it is usually better to try to change what you disagree with about a party from within. I think party members can have a much more immediate impact on the direction of a party than those on the outside.

Phil: Read your campaign literature again, ask yourself if you still believe what you campaigned on. If not, tell your constituents now and let them know that in the next election you are running in the other party. Or resign now and do the same.


Bangor is looking to follow Portland’s lead and raise its minimum wage to $9.75 over three years. Smart or not smart?

Phil: It wasn’t smart for Portland, so it is doubly not smart for Bangor. Yet the real question is whether they’ll even understand what they’re voting on. Want proof? Just look at what the Portland City Council just did.

Ethan: Smart, although I wish it went higher and moved faster. Since we know the state, at the earliest, won’t raise the minimum until LePage is done with his second term (or until Democrats win back Congress), this is the only way we are going to get the minimum up.

Phil: They are proving my point by creating different wages city by city. They will create adverse results for their city and people will vote with their checkbook by buying goods for less in neighboring towns.

Ethan: Or those businesses in neighboring towns will realize they can’t get good labor if they keep their wages below Bangor’s, thereby helping to close the economic gap. Much more likely, I think.

Republicans are looking to repeal the income tax through a referendum. Smart or not smart?


Ethan: Repealing the income tax will either gut services people need or force property taxes/sales taxes to go through the roof. Not sure the Republican Party wants to be known as the party that is trying to decimate school funding or double property taxes. Not smart.

Phil: Smart. The political class thinks government knows better how to spend taxpayer money than those who pay the taxes. A well-communicated campaign which explains the elimination of the income tax and subsequent increase in the sales tax will assure government won’t gut services and more economic activity will bring forth more taxpayers.

Ethan: Well, at least you are honestly admitting that government would have to be gutted if other taxes aren’t raised. The problem with your math is that you would have to almost triple our sales tax to make up the difference. Get ready for 15 percent added onto your tab. I don’t think that is politically feasible or desirable; therefore, property taxes would have to go up.

Phil: If property taxes rise, it’s because town councilors and school boards choose to spend beyond available resources. How refreshing would it be if they lived within the ability of taxpayers to pay?

Gun safety advocates are deciding whether to force a people’s veto referendum on the bill to allow concealed carry without a permit. Smart or not smart?

Ethan: Smart if they go forward with a referendum. Not smart if they let the law stay on the books. As I have called for for a decade, we must show the Legislature that they are out of step with Maine people on reasonable gun safety laws. Plus, if we want to ultimately pass universal background checks, forcing a people’s veto on this issue will build infrastructure for later battles.


Phil: I don’t have a position on the bigger picture you seek, but I do think it would be smart for advocates to go to referendum simply because this debate will not go away until we get a clear message from “we the people.” Polls showing strong support for the permit process are one thing. A public affirmation is something truly meaningful. I didn’t think repealing the permit process made sense, but let the people decide.

The Legislature failed to make the Labrador retriever the official dog of Maine. Smart or not smart?

Phil: I recall in my time in the Maine Senate we debated ad nausea the official state dirt. Smart that this died a quiet death.

Ethan: You are cruel. Imagine if you were a Labrador and you read in the paper that you might become the official dog of Maine and then your hopes were dashed!

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