Phil Harriman (left) and Ethan Strimling (right). Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

Phil: I’m not trying to start a family feud, but I have to assume you are none too happy with Rep. Jared Golden these days.

Ethan: “Not too happy” would be an understatement. This week he voted against the American Rescue Plan, a generational piece of anti-poverty legislation for Mainers, after last week having voted against the George Floyd Act, which takes vital steps to protect Maine people from injustice and violence. “Extreme disappointment” over how out of touch he has become would be a more accurate description.

Phil: Oooh, I did set you off. The way I see it, Maine has a long tradition of putting Mainers ahead of the party and that is what Golden has done. Remember, northern Maine is decidedly more conservative than Portland, having voted in favor of Donald Trump by eight points and Susan Collins by even more (who also voted against the Rescue Plan and, I expect, will oppose the currently drafted George Floyd Act).

Ethan: That’s funny, because the last I looked, northern Maine’s economy was getting hit pretty hard by the pandemic. I am pretty sure folks in Bangor could use the stimulus checks, families in Aroostook County could use extended unemployment, single mothers in Lewiston could use the child care tax credits, and workers Down East could use $15 an hour. Golden has now officially voted against all of it.

Phil: You could have gotten all you listed above with a package half the size. Golden, who I obviously have not supported in either of his elections, understands that fiscal responsibility also helps working families, especially over the long run.

Ethan: I guess the problem for me is that if his vote was political, as you describe, it was dumb. Conservatives will never forgive him for voting to impeach Trump, no matter how many times he head-fakes to the right on other bills. But he is not dumb politically, so I expect he actually believes that voting against these bills was good policy. And that concerns me even more.

Phil: People in northern Maine also want both parties working together and they don’t like saddling our children with trillions more in debt. That is both good policy and good politics.

Ethan: I am not sure why they voted for Trump if they crave bipartisanship and fiscal discipline more than paying the rent and putting food on the table.

Phil: Those are not mutually exclusive. The last three stimulus packages were overwhelmingly bipartisan. This is the first that was not. Golden has been consistent in saying he wants Congress to do better. That is something I believe his constituents appreciate.

Ethan: Everyone wants Congress to do better. But process is not a reason to vote against $7,200 in unemployment for those laid off in his district, over $3,000 for parents who need child care, and $1,400 in cash for hundreds of thousands of families who could spend the money in local businesses and get caught up on past due rents so landlords can meet their mortgages.

Phil: I suspect it was all the waste in the bill that he didn’t like. Families not in need getting checks, California government getting billions when their revenues are up 10 percent, workers receiving more in unemployment than they get for working. Same with the George Floyd Act. As Golden makes clear, it is bad policy to give every Tom, Dick and Harry the ability to sue a cop after that cop is forced to make a split-second decision to save someone’s life.

Ethan: If the cop is saving someone’s life, no court will make them pay. That said, the bill also bans racial profiling, requires body cameras, and stops chokeholds. All of these are good policies for Maine people.

Phil: Well, look, your team won on both votes, so Golden’s stance didn’t matter. Perhaps he is just making clear to Speaker Nancy Pelosi that she will have to work harder to get his vote when it does matter. That will be good for Maine in the end.

Ethan: Somehow, I think his constituents care more about their livelihoods than if he is jockeying for power down the road.

Phil Harriman, a former town councilor and state senator from Yarmouth, is the founding partner of Lebel & Harriman, a financial services firm. Ethan Strimling, a former mayor and state senator from Portland, is the president of Swing Hard. Turn Left, which promotes progressive policy at the local, state and national levels.