Maine governor Paul LePage ran for office as a fiscal conservative, claiming that tax cuts for the wealthy would grow the Maine economy. When that failed, he turned to slowing payments for bonds, claiming that would jumpstart the economy. When that failed, he then pushed for even more tax cuts, claiming it would be a huge boost to the state’s economy despite his earlier tax cuts failing to deliver. And now Maine is facing its largest deficit in history, along with huge debts for the immediate future.
These steps were meant to turn Maine into a competitive and attractive state for business. Instead, Maine is now considered the worst state for business in the nation. This is a stunning turnaround for the state, which in the 1990’s under then governor, now senator-elect Angus King, was considered a very attractive state for business.
Paul LePage seems confused, and is running on 1980’s campaign slogans. When the scope of his failed policies were made clear, he called for an immediate slashing of funds to education systems. Nothing says pro-business like making sure they lack both well-paid customers and educated workers, right?
The incoming Democratic majority in the state legislature may not be able to correct the damage either, as they will lack a veto-proof majority. This means that Maine is facing a turbulent next few years, as critical programs face budget shortfalls and the state turns down the path of job elimination. Another few years of Paul LePage and there won’t effectively be an economy in Maine at their current pace.
In a move apparently meant to help with the state budget, he has, however, decided on turning over the entire state medical system to the federal government. Due to his refusal to set up the state-run programs required by federal law and voted into effect by Maine’s legislators in Washington, he has abdicated state control over their health system, federalizing it by default. Of course, LePage had earlier called the IRS “Obama’s Gestapo,” so this turnabout to hand the state medical system to the federal government is surprising. Of course, to solve the healthcare problem he may just require adding more BPA’s to the food; after all, the worst case scenario is that “some women may have little beards.”
Paul LePage is one of the last holdouts for the Norquist Pledge and is facing a huge problem for re-election in the next cycle. While that election is two years away, he is already facing an uphill battle, according to polls, and could, this time, lose to a cat. When you have to worry about Garfield throwing his hat into the ring, Mr. Governor, the problem is not the people, or legislature; the only person to blame is yourself, Paul LePage.
Nathaniel Downes is the son of a former state representative of New Hampshire, now living in Seattle Washington.
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