Work can be the cure!

I know this sounds like informing you that letting go of this pencil will be followed by it falling to the floor. But it illustrates a widespread mentality we conservatives are up against. This was one of the elements in my speech at the GOP Convention, April 23. 

A recent offering from the Heritage Foundation's "The Daily Signal" by Rachel Sheffield really frames the matter. Just one more reason we should all be grateful for the efforts of our fine Governor, Paul LePage. "Within the first three months after Maine’s work policy went into effect, its caseload of able-bodied adults receiving food stamps plunged by 80 percent, falling from 13,332 recipients in December 2014 to 2,678 in March 2015."


"Abraham Lincoln once said, “No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive.”

Over the past several years, the number of Americans on food stamps has soared. In particular, since 2009, the number of “able-bodied-adults” without dependents receiving food stamps more than doubled nationally. Part of this increase is due to a federal rule that allowed states to waive food stamps’ modest work requirement. However, states such as Kansas and Maine chose to reinstate work requirements. Comparing and contrasting the two approaches provides powerful new evidence about the effectiveness of work.

According to a report from the Foundation for Government Accountability, before Kansas instituted a work requirement, 93 percent of food stamp recipients were in poverty, with 84 percent in severe poverty. Few of the food stamp recipients claimed any income. Only 21 percent were working at all, and two-fifths of those working were working fewer than 20 hours per week.

Once work requirements were established, thousands of food stamp recipients moved into the workforce, promoting income gains and a decrease in poverty. Forty percent of the individuals who left the food stamp ranks found employment within three months, and about 60 percent found employment within a year. They saw an average income increase of 127 percent. Half of those who left the rolls and are working have earnings above the poverty level. Even many of those who stayed on food stamps saw their income increase significantly."

Posted on 26 Apr 2016, 01:02 - Category: Welfare

What Happened in Colorado

I’m still pondering the controversy arising from the recent delegate selection process in Colorado. Cruz paid attention, worked within the rules and succeeded in getting his delegates selected. Trump didn’t. Should be ‘nuff said, right? But there’s more.

I can understand the complaint of the Trumpsters that citizens didn’t "get to vote" in Colorado, though it’s not entirely true. The delegates emerged from a complex process which proceeded over several stages, internal to the Colorado GOP. The decision was made in August and the rules were published in October and nothing was hidden. Unfortunately the rules were designed to favor party insiders, the “establishment” and to exclude outsiders. But the party got skunked by the hard-working Cruz campaign. Whatever the strategic choice, Trump elected not to play ball. Any complaint seems more like sour grapes. However, he is right that ordinary, workaday citizens were not key to the outcome.

Here in Maine our delegate selection process has evolved to what I think is a useful but imperfect system. It’s a hybrid: you can come, register if you need to, vote primary-style and go home. Or, you can stay and caucus for your candidate and get more involved. Other states use pure caucus only, “closed” primary, “open” primary, or party "delegate caucus", as in Colorado. In caucus and primary states, there is all manner of schemes to then assign delegates. In Maine, if you win 51% of the popular vote, you get all the delegates. Each state determines it own delegate distribution system and often you need a degree in higher mathematics to figure it out.

That’s the way it is right now.  However, there are a couple of problems here. 

First, while it is the prerogative of state units of a party to self-determine their ground rules, it simply doesn’t feel right to an ordinary citizen if they don’t feel like their vote counted. Second, while state autonomy is essential to the vibrancy of our country, all these different systems may lead citizens in one state to feel that the procedures in another state are screwing things up.

Our system of political parties is not mentioned in our Constitution and their modus operandi is not mandated. Our parties are effectively private clubs, self regulated, with national and state units, parallel to the federal system. These clubs do not take kindly to outside threats. They self protect. They set up internal rules to skew results in a direction they prefer. Look how the Democrat party is rigged; Bernie would be just 200 delegates behind Hillary if she did not hold sway over 469 superdelegates.

While it is not without flaws, I am somewhat content with our system here in Maine. Regular people get to vote, in a quasi primary-style, and the politically active can dig in and move the ball forward. I think our nation could benefit if the parties were more consistent across the states in their approach to selecting delegates so that they all directly reflect the will of the people.

Posted on 12 Apr 2016, 17:22 - Category: State We're In

VA Mess Continues

Despite all the proclamations coming out of the Whitehouse that they are fixing the reprehensible  problems at the Veterans Administration, there is no evidence of progress.

Pete Hegseth, former CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, recently returned to the Baltimore VA hospital a year and a half after he spoke to vets who were frustrated with the treatment they received.

He found that despite assurances by the VA that improvements have been made to staffing and services, most vets haven't seen a difference. They continue to experience problems with long wait times, a lack of accountability, and insensitive bureaucracy. VA employees still have job security galore, protected by unions. Most recently, two VA officials are accused of fraud to the tune of more than $400,000; they have been demoted, but not fired!

A few vet comments:

"Everything's slower. Stuff speeded up for like a month or two. Now, it's back to being worse than it was a year ago.”

"From this past September til now, I've been down here 14 times. And I keep getting the same...everytime I come down, nothing gets done.”

I am furious about this! This scandal has basically dropped off the radar, due to a complicit press. I treat these vets every day in my private practice and I know the heartaches first hand. This hideous, unfair and outrageous mess is showing us where Obamacare will take the rest of our healthcare system. 

Posted on 05 Apr 2016, 17:30 - Category: Healthcare

I love solar - BUT!

I love solar, you love solar, we all love solar - BUT. What do we love, actually?

Well, we love the idea of free! We love the idea of magic! We love the idea of sort of getting away with something. Solar is the promise of “free”, clean, endless energy without much effort. Right?

Solar generated electricity has come a long way since 1839, when Alexandre Edmond Becquerel observed the photovoltaic effect via an electrode in a conductive solution exposed to light. Now, down a long road of trial and error, experiment with success and failure, the promise of solar is still unfolding. We’re not there by a long shot, both in the science of discovery and the challenges of implementation. I love this stuff, but let’s get real.

It pains me when government blunders heavy-handedly into places it does not belong, like Solyndra and the Ivanpah project. Government is fine at some stuff, but putting a pile of your hard-earned money into not-ready-for-primetime, politically correct projects like these makes a mess every time. What don’t they get? If something has promise that might be turned into profits, there is an unlimited amount of capital ready to jump in and take the risk. Why should YOU take the risk, especially when managed by bumbling bureaucrats?

Government should be limited to encouraging these technologies and perhaps incentivising them without adding to our already too complex tax system. Government should NOT put your tax dollars at risk when it is inherently incompetent to manage the outcome. 

If the free market isn’t jumping in. Hmmm… doesn’t that say something?

Posted on 04 Apr 2016, 18:26 - Category: Energy

It's not "luck" for the Irish

From my friend, Rep. Rod Frelinghuysen, New Jersey 11th District. 

Even as we took time this week to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I know many New Jersey families and businessmen and women worry about their economic future.   They are concerned about their children’s inability to find jobs and start their careers, preserving their personal investments, dealing with stagnant wages and the stability of their own jobs.  Of course, the antidote is a strong and growing economy.  

My colleagues on the House Ways and Means Committee make an interesting point: just like the United States, Ireland experienced a serious financial crisis in 2008 that rippled through every sector of its economy.

Since then, slow growth and stagnant wages have been the hallmarks of America’s weak "recovery."  But at the same time, Ireland, is bouncing back strong. The country's economy continues to grow at the fastest rate in Europe: 9.2 percent in the final three months of 2015. During that same time period, the U.S. economy grew by an unimpressive 1.9 percent.

It just so happens that Ireland is home to the lowest corporate tax rate among OECD countries (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).  The U.S has the highest corporate tax rate among those same countries.

So perhaps there’s more to growth in Ireland than simply “the Luck of the Irish.” Our broken tax code continues to force American job creators to move abroad, and it is weakening our economy.

America needs a new, modernized tax code that is built for growth– the growth of families’ paychecks, the growth of local businesses, and the growth of our economy.  In short, Americans need a tax system that is simpler, fairer and flatter.

Posted on 17 Mar 2016, 16:16 - Category: Jobs & Economy

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