On July 2, the Bangor Daily News printed a column by Ben Grant, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, offering criticism of Gov. Paul LePage and Republican legislators.
Although I don’t agree with his views, I understand that his philosophy of government has a long history here in Maine. The Democrats had (prior to the election of 2010) controlled the state Legislature for almost 40 years.
In 2010, the voters of Maine gave Republicans a chance and I say to Mr. Grant and others: Be patient. It’s unrealistic to expect Republicans to fix in six months the damage created by 40 years of what many of us believe were some of the most extreme policies in the nation.
During that time, Maine people elected Democratic politicians over and over again and our state changed for the worse. The experiment didn’t work. Our working people have had enough.
Maine became a welfare state. Our working people became among the highest taxed in the nation. Our young people left the state for job opportunities, and Maine became one of the most difficult places in the nation to operate a small business. We tried the liberal agenda and Maine people voted “No.”
Having served in Legislature as both a Democrat and a Republican, let me assure you there is a difference between the parties. When friends and customers ask me why I am so passionate about Republican politics, I explain that it’s not about Republican, Democrat or political parties, it’s simply about philosophy.
The Democrats abandoned the working man when they embraced the liberal welfare state. The simple fact is that when you create a situation where those with wealth leave the state to avoid taxes, the only folks left to pay for an ever-expanding welfare state are those in the middle class, the working people.
This is our current situation.
We Republicans believe in you and your ability to succeed and to be anything that you can imagine. We support our free enterprise system and advocate for limited government.
The Democrats (Mr. Grant admits) believe in government. Government programs to take care of you. Government regulates businesses to protect you. Government taxes to redistribute your wealth, so government spending can solve your problems.
Mr. Grant and his allies complain that Gov. LePage isn’t politically correct and the Republicans haven’t done enough.
He’s right. Gov. LePage isn’t a politician, but his policies are improving Maine and repairing the damage done by one-party government and out-of-control spending.
I argue again show patience; Republicans can’t be expected to reverse the high taxes, big government ideas and runaway spending all in one legislative session.
On the other hand, in response to Democrat complaints and having been around Maine politics for more than 30 years, I can’t tell you how proud I am of the accomplishments of the Republicans during this recently completed legislative session.
How refreshing to have our legislators arguing about lowering taxes, rather than raising them. Legislators working to lower the costs associated with our generous welfare programs rather than past legislative attempts to expand the welfare state. Discussions regarding regulatory reform, rather than the usual anti-business legislation.
The hospitals were paid. Republicans legislators cut income taxes, lowering taxes for everyday Maine people despite the fact that, on a party line vote, the Democrats opposed lowering the taxes of lower and middle income Mainers. (They need the tax revenue to continue welfare spending increases.) Health insurance was reformed allowing Maine citizens to purchase health insurance across state lines in coming years.
In six months, Maine Republicans changed the political landscape in Augusta.
We have given Maine’s small business people and our working class a voice in the State House, and I believe finally a meaningful chance to move Maine in a positive direction.
Together, with Gov. LePage, Republicans will continue their steady work toward solving the needs of Maine people and giving our citizens greater opportunities.
We continue to welcome support from those Democrats willing to oppose their party agenda and work with us to advocate for the needs of Maine’s working people, and Maine’s small business community.
Charles Webster is chairman of the Maine Republican Party.