Sanders offers authentic voice
I have been paying a lot of attention lately to critiques by economists and policy analysts, liberal and conservative alike, of Bernie Sanders’ economic agenda. My underlying criticism of many of them is that they seem far too tied to risk-averse pragmatism that will only lead to a business-as-usual future.
As an example, in a recent interview, an economist criticized Sanders’ plan to adopt universal health care coverage by stating that “the government would make public something like 8 to 9 percent of the economy that’s currently private. That would be hugely disruptive to those on the private side.” This to me is the kind of fearful logic that will keep us in an eddy of the status quo. If we had a tumor that was 8 to 9 percent the size of the organ, would we leave it intact for fear of the consequences?
A friend, knowing my support for Bernie Sanders, asked me recently, “Do Bernie’s numbers work out?” If economists of all stripes can’t agree, how should I know? What I do know is that the influence of special interests is corrupting our democracy and unfettered capitalism is (as Sanders so often says) serving very few, while leaving so many in the shadows. And through it all, we are looking at an increasingly bleak future on a warming planet.
It is high time that an authentic voice has risen in presidential politics to say “Enough is enough!” I, for one, am willing to take a chance on Bernie.
Medicaid expansion right thing to do
The Maine Council of Churches, representing nine denominations and 550 congregations across the state, would like to add its voice to those of the Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Sheriffs Association, the Maine Chiefs of Police Association and nearly 60 percent of recently polled Mainers in support of Sen. Tom Saviello’s proposal to expand Medicaid coverage to more of Maine’s vulnerable and low-income citizens.
The council, rooted in Hebrew and Christian scripture, takes the biblical mandate seriously to love our neighbors and care for those in need. We believe it is our collective responsibility to share the means to health through access to health coverage, helping to ensure that all people can live healthy, whole, safe lives, free from the fear that their next illness will mean not only personal tragedy but also bankruptcy, homelessness or even death.
Thirty-two states have already elected to expand Medicaid coverage. We hope and pray that Maine will become the next to do so.
Rev. Jane Field
Maine Council of Churches
Release the housing funds
Despite passage months ago, the housing bond funds earmarked for older Mainers in need of affordable housing have yet to be released. The Maine State Housing Authority awaits word from Gov. Paul LePage. Meanwhile, older, vulnerable Mainers, many of whom have been kept in limbo for years, continue to wait for a home they can afford.
Maine’s senior housing shortage is at a crisis point. Nearly 9,000 older Mainers are waiting for affordable housing options in their communities. Some are being told it will be at least five years before they will have a home. Without action, the shortfall of affordable housing will grow to more than 15,000 by 2022.
Surveys consistently show that Mainers want to remain in their own homes and communities as they grow older. The housing bond will begin to enable more Mainers to do just that by building new, affordable homes for older Mainers and dedicating funds to home repair and weatherization of existing homes, some of the oldest in the country.
Last year, a broad coalition of more than 150 organizations, including aging and housing advocates, developers and construction workers, came together to pass bipartisan legislation and then took the issue to the voters. The people of Maine strongly supported the measure, with close to 70 percent voting in support of the housing bond.
High housing costs force millions of low-income older adults to sacrifice spending on other necessities including food, undermining their health and well-being. In fact, 37 percent of those aged 80 and over pay more than 30 percent of income for housing.
The governor must take action on behalf of the people of Maine. From Fort Kent to Kennebunk, people are looking for housing they can afford so they can remain in their own communities as they age. AARP Maine calls upon LePage to release the housing bond funds immediately.