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Friday, May 31, 2013: Small businesses, IRS and veterans

Help small businesses

The governor and legislators who champion improving the business climate in Maine should accept the federal funds available for expanding Medicaid. I believe this will, in fact, avert stiff penalties on many Maine businesses.

Republican lawmakers need to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of LD1546. They should ask themselves whether backing the governor this time is good for Maine people.

We all, including our governor, need to accept that the Affordable Care Act is currently the law of the land. Many of us in the business community are already calculating how we will shoulder our share of the “shared responsibility,” especially if we want to put thousands of unemployed Mainers back to work.

Under the new law, an employer with 50 or more workers wanting to offer insurance coverage to employees but unable to afford a compliant product, will have to pay a non-deductible penalty for each employee going to the exchange and receiving a federal subsidy. However, if those same employees are covered under the Medicaid expansion, these employers will be exempt from any penalty.

Simply put, without passage of the Medicaid Expansion bill, many Maine businesses will be shouldering more than their share of the “shared responsibility.”

It is very unfortunate for the Medicaid expansion issue to get caught up in partisan politics and ideological disputes. Accepting federal funds will have an enormous financial benefit for many Mainers in need, as well as businesses struggling to hire thousands more workers.

Joel Gratwick, CEO, Bonny Staffing Center



Less violence

It is a very sad day when the governor of our state suggests that a solution to a problem is to “get our guns out,” as stated in a story that ran May 30 in the BDN. We must insist that our governor show some self-control in his statements. Isn’t the point to reduce violence here?

Joan MacCracken



Tempest in a teapot

This week’s tempest in a teapot concerning the methodology used by the IRS to determine tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status, has been met with what I believe is shock from every political party and media outlet. While I certainly agree that laws and policies should be enforced in a party-blind manner, the true outrage is that so many blatantly political groups have been awarded this status.

Congress created tax exemption for social welfare nonprofits many years ago. They were supposed to “operate exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.” This definition was altered to use the term “primarily,” according to an article by ProPublica. Since Congress has failed to define “primarily,” groups have argued that “primarily” can mean up to 49 percent of spending, the article said. I believe “social welfare” has been interpreted to mean “education,” no matter how political and partisan that education might be.

501(c)(4) donors do not have to reveal their identity, according to a legal blog run by the firm, Venable LLP. There is historical logic to this exception. In the 1950’s case NAACP vs. Alabama, Alabama attempted to force the NAACP to disclose its donor list. The Supreme Court sided with the NAACP saying that its donors, if revealed, could be at risk for reprisals. I don’t think that corporations exist in a similarly risky environment. Unfortunately, for the U.S. political system, the desire for corporations to keep the political system opaque has overwhelmed the citizens’ right of transparency.

The IRS has a mandate to stop clearly political organizations from claiming to be “social welfare” groups. Ask our senators to support Act S. 791, and require that blatantly political groups be stripped of 501(c)(4) recognition.

Laurie Nicholson



Freedom not free

The featured photograph in the May 28 edition of the BDN that shows Korean War veteran Bernard Eaton with a proud picture of his brother Kyle captured the 18-year history of the Maine veterans and their walking sticks, along with hundreds of Vietnam and global war against terror veterans who followed the length of lower Main Street was a story of war and peace seldom seen.

We remaining World War II veterans who still lead this veterans group are few in number, and have had our days. But this was a story that needed and needs to be told. It included veterans from all wars and was witnessed by the thousands of spectators who filled Bangor streets along the parade route in thanks to veterans who have served our country for the past 75 years.

Thanks to both the BDN and its staff for keeping the memories alive and reminding the public that freedom is not free.

Galen Cole, WWII veteran, Cole Land Transportation Museum founder


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