The label “conservative” is often applied to ideas that are anything but. Take for instance the proposition that we can exclusively cut our way out of our federal debt problem, that we can somehow bring our national budget back into balance without raising any more revenue. This is a radical theory, not a conservative one, unsupported by the facts or the math of the matter.
On this issue, people like me who know we need a balanced approach to budget reform are the true conservatives. I also consider myself conservative in my views of how we spend our government dollars. (Although I’ve yet to meet anyone, liberal or conservative, who’s in favor of waste.) There are steps we can take to get the most bang for our public buck, such as by constructing and maintaining our roads in ways that reduce the need for constant repaving.
But in the end, we’ll need more income as well as less outgo to get our fiscal house in order. The most logical place to look for greater financial contributions to our national finances is among those with the most to give: our wealthiest households and most profitable multinational corporations.
Our middle class struggling through the slow recovery certainly has nothing extra to give.
Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins can prove they’re not only moderate, but actually conservative in the best sense, if they embrace a year-end budget deal that includes restoring slightly higher rates on taxpayers making more than $250,000 a year.
The two major parties, in convention, displayed dramatic differences in what they claim causes job creation or loss.
Republicans espouse the “trickle down” approach: Cut taxes on the wealthy few and business, and they will use the extra funds to hire people, start businesses, etc. Democrats espouse stimulus: Get money into the hands of the many nonwealthy, who will spend it and thus create the demand for goods and services that causes businesses to invest and hire.
Trickle-down has been tried by Republican administrations since 1980. It has failed every time. A chart of gross domestic product’s behavior at various levels of the top tax rate over the past 60 years shows this. If anything, GDP did best at high tax rates for the wealthy.
On the other hand, the stimulus approach worked — too small though it was. In late 2008, GDP plummeted by 9 percent, the worst in 50 years and 11 percent below what would have stabilized unemployment. It was still falling when President Barack Obama took office. The stimulus act was passed that February. The next quarter’s jobs numbers showed the largest improvement in 30 years.
Real small businesses, drivers of the economy, confirm in surveys that lack of demand for their output, not high taxes, is their problem.
Our two representatives, understanding this, support tax cuts for the nonwealthy, not the wealthy. One would hope our two senators will, too, in the coming lame duck session.
As a longtime admirer and supporter of independent Angus King, and — when he was governor — an occasional collaborator on his successful program to help Maine businesses increase their exports, I was delighted when he announced his candidacy to replace Olympia Snowe in the U.S. Senate.
And now his campaign is giving me the additional pleasure of being able to watch the out-of-state political action committees waste the money of their anonymous wealthy supporters through the comically ill-conceived ad campaigns they’re throwing at him. Imagine spending perfectly good money to claim that King is “anti-business,” when most of the businessmen in Maine will tell you that the claim is nonsense. And then there’s the spectacle of certain Republican PACs running ads supporting the Democratic candidate as a better way to chip away at King’s lead than buying ads for their own guy.
I imagine that a lot of would-be “Angus-assassins” out there will soon realize that their feet are getting full of self-inflicted bullet holes.
Listen to Mainers
The BDN recently ran a 700-word story about two people who came to our state from Massachusetts to try to persuade Mainers to vote against marriage equality in our November referendum. I would have rather seen a story about how Mainers themselves feel about the referendum. For instance, a pro-marriage phenomenon has been happening in Washington County over the summer, symbolized by the 100-plus residents who marched with the float “Vote ‘Aye’ for Love” in Eastport’s Pirate Festival parade recently.
The color, enthusiasm and size of that contingent garnered the festival prize for “Most Thrilling Entry” and was greeted with vigorous cheers, high fives and thumbs up from the huge crowds that packed the sidewalks. That’s a story.
If Mainers need advice about how to vote on Question 1 this November, perhaps they should be talking to other Mainers instead of listening to Mr. and Mrs. Frank of Brighton, Mass. There are plenty of people here in Washington County who have some heartfelt thoughts on the issue of gaining equal marriage rights for ourselves, our friends and our families.
We just received our copy of NAMI Advocate and the monthly letter from the executive director, Michael J. Fitzpatrick, who just returned from the National Alliance on Mental Illness National Convention, which was disturbing. Not because of him but by the facts put forth. Let me quote just a few.
The continued loss of community services, because of lack of funding, leaves many people with mental illness at a loss. As an example, most school dropouts do so because of a lack of services. The only available resource is often incarceration in jails and prison. The only treatment for an outburst is often to be put in solitary confinement. Punishment for being mentally ill — it just doesn’t make sense.
The magazine continues with services available to returning veterans and active duty troops and spouses. Just a few quotes: One-third of military spouses suffer from at least one mental illness; one active duty person commits suicide every 36 hours and one veteran every 80 minutes.
Shameful, because with adequate funding a lot of these would be prevented. Please join those of us who advocate for change.