On the eve of a six-day sweep through the northern portion of the 2nd District, Republican congressional candidate Jason Levesque challenged Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s support of President Barack Obama’s massive health care plan.
Levesque renewed his call on the incumbent congressman to hold a town hall-style meeting with constituents to explain his vote in favor of Obama’s initiative, which passed the U.S. House and Senate earlier this year.
“He still has yet to come to the people of Maine and give them, if not a comprehensive, at least a cursory explanation of what the health care program will mean for the people of his district,” Levesque said. “It will be a massive government intervention, followed by over a trillion dollars in expenditures.
“The biggest question we all have regards all the unintended consequences of the plan,” he added.
Michaud doesn’t need to hold a meeting with voters to explain his position or hear from them, Michaud’s spokesman, Ed Gilman, said Tuesday.
“Input from Mainers is the most important source of information for the congressman. That’s why he goes home to Maine every weekend and keeps such a busy schedule meeting directly with constituents,” Gilman said in a statement.
“And on the issue of health care, he convened a series of forums to hear directly from small-business owners, consumers and health care providers in Maine to hear how they would be affected by health insurance reform,” he added.
Levesque said Michaud had time to meet with Dr. Mary Wakefield, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in “closed door” sessions with health care providers in Brewer and Lewiston earlier this week and should have found time by now to meet with voters.
“We rely on our elected officials not just to represent us in Washington, but to explain what’s going on,” Levesque said.
Gilman countered by saying that “over the past year, [Michaud] has had over 100 meetings with Mainers on health care. He has also hosted telephone town hall meetings, so that Mainers’ participation in the discussion wasn’t limited by geography,” Gilman said.
Levesque’s criticism is a fairly common GOP tactic in a number of congressional races, said Amy Fried, a University of Maine political science professor. She said it’s an attempt to link Democrats with voter dissatisfaction over the health care initiative in a year where “there is general movement against incumbents.”
“The national data suggests that there is more disapproval than approval toward the health care bill,” Fried said. “There is also a majority who want to give it a chance to work. It’s a generic Republican message in some ways.”
To Levesque, health care is an issue that comes up constantly on the campaign trail, he said.