I read in Monday’s paper that Augusta has awarded a Massachusetts contractor a $5.3 million contract to tear down the old Waldo-Hancock bridge ( State receives low bid of $5.35 million for demolition of Waldo-Hancock Bridge, to start in October, Aug. 13). Their bid was just a couple hundred thousand dollars below a bid by a Maine contractor, a difference the project manager described as a squeaker. So instead of $5.5 million going to a Maine business, along with all the good paying jobs that will be generated, we’re shipping the taxpayers’ money down to the Bay State, where unemployment is more than a percent lower than ours.
We keep hearing that our present state government is dedicated to creating jobs and a business-friendly climate. This is a strange way to go about it.
Tax and spending fix
Olympia Snowe could crown her distinguished Senate career that ends next January, and at the same time help revive the dying art of bipartisan compromise, by taking a leadership role in the big federal tax and spending debate that will follow the fall elections. More specifically, she would serve Maine and her legacy well if she insisted on a balanced approach to deficit reduction, one that included more revenue from our nation’s wealthiest citizens and corporations.
Some trillion dollars of budget decisions have to be made before the clock strikes midnight on December 31, or else automatic tax hikes and indiscriminate spending cuts will occur that could well plunge the U.S. into a second Great Recession. Both parties are dug into their ideological positions; there must be a “grand bargain” struck. I can’t think of anyone better able to craft it than Sen. Snowe, unless it be her colleague, Sen.Collins, who could also burnish her bipartisan credentials by reaching across the aisle and convincing both sides to bend.
Central to solving our budget crisis is ensuring there is enough revenue to pay down debt and preserve important public investments like Social Security and Medicare. One good way to start is to allow the Bush-era tax breaks for families making over a quarter million dollars a year expire, raising tens of billions of dollars. (Middle-class tax cuts would remain.)
Sens. Snowe and Collins have proved sensible bipartisanship can work. This great budget debate is the time to prove it again.
Political myths are hard to shake, no matter your ideology, but basing your political choices on mythology rather than facts makes for bad policy.
Take the myth that we can cut our way out of the federal budget deficit. The fact is the majority of the federal budget is automatic spending on vital programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and defense. The amount left to cut in discretionary spending on domestic programs isn’t enough to close our budget gap, even if we eliminated every program, bureau and office.
The president and Congress have already agreed on a trillion dollars in spending cuts over the next decade.
Then there is the myth that the rich are “job creators”— if you give enough tax breaks to the rich, it will create prosperity for everyone. The fact is taxes on the rich are at their lowest levels in 75 years yet our economy continues to be weak.
What we know is that if we allow the Bush-era tax cuts, especially on the wealthiest two percent of taxpayers, to rise slightly back to Clinton-era levels, it will raise hundreds of billions of dollars, which we can use to pay down debt and perhaps make a few key public investments. As a retired schoolteacher of 40 years, I’m familiar with unfunded mandates emanating from Washington. With sufficient revenue this burden could be lifted from the states.
I hope Sens. Snowe and Collins will avoid mythology and support a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes increased revenues along with necessary cuts.
Two choices in 2012
I just had to respond to the letter “Establish justice” (BDN, Aug. 14, 2012). Apparently it is wrong for Mitt Romney to be opposed to Roe v. Wade and to favor holding illegal immigrants accountable for breaking the law. However, it is OK for President Obama to order his justice department to not enforce federal drug laws on the use of marijuana or the Defense of Marriage Act and to have his attorney general found in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents on Operation Fast and Furious, in which the justice department provided firearms to Mexican gangs that were used in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agents.
“Promote general welfare” President Obama has done little if anything in this regard. Unemployment is over 8 percent and has been for 42 months — the longest streak on record. His bailout of the auto industry has cost the taxpayers over $25 billion and counting. He cut Medicare by over $700 billion to pay for his health care reform. He has done nothing on energy independence except block drilling and veto pipelines. He has run the country into bankruptcy by increasing the national debt from $8 trillion to $15 trillion in less than four years.
The country can’t afford four more years of class warfare, ever-increasing deficits, ever-increasing taxes and absolutely no leadership from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
I will be voting for Romney.
I am writing in regard to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spending vast sums of money on negative attack ads against Angus King. First, it is important that everyone be aware the Chamber is not affiliated with the U.S. government, but is instead the largest lobbying organization in the nation, and it actively supports outsourcing jobs to other countries.
The Chamber’s decision to pump out-of-state dollars in a massive attempt to influence Maine voters is indicative of a large problem with our current political environment. Moreover, Charlie Summers has embraced that external cash-flow and those negative tactics. Maine voters would do well to take note of this, and remember what choices Mr. Summers continues to make.
The unfair attacks on Angus King distort his record, and indeed Angus has the support of the Maine Chamber of Commerce. His record as governor shows his ability to recognize which investments are worthwhile to pursue for the betterment of the people, the state, and the nation. His decision to run an entirely positive campaign is commendable, and Maine voters should remember that too.