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Saturday, March 9, 2013: Health care, early education and drug testing for welfare

Health care politics

Gov. Paul LePage has too often played politics with people’s health care. He joined the suit to have Obamacare declared unconstitutional, then made it clear that Maine would not expand Medicaid even though 100 percent of the cost would be covered by the federal government for three years and 90 percent would be provided after that time.

Indeed, not only has he refused to expand MaineCare, he has already cut so many from the rolls that it has wound up costing Maine taxpayers and our economy more money.

By not expanding Medicaid coverage, LePage is turning away millions of dollars in funding. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, expanding Medicaid would save the state between $65 million and $118 million over six years.

Other conservative governors who originally shared LePage’s position in opposition to Obamacare and expanded Medicaid have now been changing their minds.

In fact, the governors of New Jersey and Florida have said that they know the people of their state need health care and they cannot in good conscience refuse the federal funding that will provide the health insurance for their citizens.

We call upon LePage to stop playing politics, review the facts and do what is best for Mainers.

Colleen P. Crowley


Education and national security

I would like to add another perspective to a recent article about Maine business leaders who support high-quality early education. In addition to improving our state’s economy and future workforce, quality early education also helps our national security.

A growing national security issue is the startling fact that a large percentage of America’s young people, ages 17-24, are ineligible for military service. That is because they lack adequate education, are physically unfit or already have a criminal record.

While alarming, these barriers can and must be addressed. One of the best ways to do so is through high-quality early education programs.

Numerous long-term studies show that children who participate in high-quality early learning programs have improved academic performance and are more likely to graduate from high school. These programs also help youth develop social skills such as teamwork, motivation and curiosity, which they need to succeed in all careers, not just the military.

I appreciate that Gov. Paul LePage’s current state budget proposal does not cut additional resources from Head Start or public pre-kindergarten. As Maine’s economy improves, I hope additional resources for these worthy programs can be found in future budgets. It is the right thing to do for Maine’s youngest, for the economy and for our nation’s security.

Ralph Leonard

Brigadier general, U.S. Air Force (retired)

Old Town

Random testing?

I am in complete agreement with the BDN’s March 3 editorial opposition to LD 678, proposed by Rep. Paulette Beaudoin, D-Biddeford, wherein welfare recipients would be required to submit to random drug testing.

Such a law would, in effect, make being poor a crime. It would clearly be unconstitutional and would add further humiliation to the lives of those already struggling with tough times financially.

I suggest that we start random drug testing for legislators, in order to be sure they aren’t high on something when they propose illegal, unnecessary and time-wasting legislation.

Lou Richards

Trescott Township

McCarthy right pick for EPA

President Barack Obama recently nominated Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency. McCarthy has the rare ability to put partisan politics aside and work with both Republicans and Democrats. I believe she’s an excellent choice.

McCarthy has a long list of accomplishments at the EPA, including the first-ever proposed carbon pollution standard for new power plants, the first carbon limits for vehicles and standards that limit soot, mercury and other air pollution.

In the past she has worked with all stakeholders to develop effective safeguards to protect public health and reduce dangerous pollution.

The Senate easily approved McCarthy during her previous confirmation as head of the clean air division of EPA. There’s no reason it should not move forward quickly again.

McCarthy is a dedicated professional who has worked for five Republican governors, including Jodi Rell of Connecticut and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, before joining the Obama administration.

McCarthy is a clean-air, climate and public-health champion. In McCarthy, the president has made another outstanding choice to lead the EPA. I urge Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins to vote to confirm McCarthy for EPA chief.

Eloise Kleban


USS America

Our “Ship of State,” the USS America, is in danger of sinking. This massive luxury liner has a history of sailing through wars and storms with impunity, but this time looks different.

The cost of maintaining the ship far exceeds what passengers are willing to pay. In fact, many passengers pay nothing. The captain plays golf, and the first mate urges everyone to “buy a shotgun, buy a shotgun.”

Meanwhile, every year, our national debt floods more of the ship.

In 2008, when the flood of debt finally reached the engine room, and our economy faltered, the new captain gave the order to start bailing. But despite all the bailouts, the flooding got worse.

Then, last year, a super committee was appointed to find a fix to the debt problem. All the committee produced was a super-partisan failure.

Then the so called “sequester” was upon us. The captain and members of his crew said a very modest, 2-percent cut in spending was a bad idea.

The fact is it would only slow the flood of debt from $1 trillion a year to $900 billion a year. Not nearly enough.

The great ship’s engine is held together by duct tape and baling wire. The flooding gets worse. The captain and his crew sail on, rearranging deck chairs and wasting time talking about gun control and climate change.

Everyone aboard the USS America needs to pay more and expect less. United we stand, divided we swim.

Randall Poulton


Peggy Daigle support

Peggy Daigle’s leadership qualities have been recognized by her peers. Hopefully she will bring this experience in eco-tourism to Millinocket as town manager.

While in Old Town, she helped package deals between local hotels, Cyr Bus and Old Town Canoe. This type of economic forward thinking will help such groups as the trails committees as they try to revitalize the local flare.

This same woman has demonstrated a leadership quality that seems to blend well with the industrial revitalization ideas. Daigle’s work around Old Town has had an impact on that town’s progress.

It is this longtime critic’s belief that the town council has gotten this decision correct. I believe they have picked the best person for this position.

Let us hope she can help broaden our horizons through working with all sectors that are trying to make Millinocket an ongoing community.

Charlie Cirame


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