Sometimes it’s just nice to get an “atta boy” when you’ve been working hard at something, isn’t it? Moments of affirmation have a way of easing the toil required for accomplishments to materialize. I’m sure it was a special moment for Governor LePage when Eliot Cutler issued a press release this past week just to show his approval of all the hard work the Governor has put in to reforming the welfare system.
Ah, the proverbial olive branch. Heartwarming, ‘tis true, but a little surprising, you say, to give up positive endorsements of your opponent’s policies while trying to oust him from the Blaine House? Yes, it does seem like a fruitless endeavor, or does it?
You see, Eliot Cutler, in the heat and desperation of battle, is reverting to one of the basic mantras of the Democrat Party, which is, “Make a mess of things, Blame the Republicans, Wait for the Republicans to clean it up, Then take the credit for it”. This should not be confused with the better-known Democrat mantra, “Lie like a thick shag rug.” So this week, in revealing his plan on reforming welfare, Cutler announced, in so many words, that everything Governor LePage has done, he will do, and everything Governor LePage wanted to do, he will do, and if you elect him as Governor he will take the credit for everything that Governor LePage has done to reform welfare, because, well, they’re just plain good ideas. And we wouldn’t want a Republican to get credit for that, would we?
He’s such a good little Democrat and stealthy, too! No, Eliot is no independent. He is the stealth Democrat to be sure.
Ohh, some of you are fuming! You are so cynical, you Maine Conservative Voice….guy. Well, let’s take a closer look at Eliot Cutler’s “Plan”. Oh, you wonder what Mike Michaud’s plan is? Well…he…doesn’t have….one. He’s been too distracted asking the CBO for ways to slash veterans health benefits and too confused wondering whether it’s Nancy Pelosi or John Martin who’s supposed to tell him what to say on this issue.
So here is some of the LePage/Cutler welfare reform plan, or the “What He Said” Plan.
Prohibit Purchases of Alcohol, Tobacco, Lottery Tickets, and Posting Bail. Yes, Governor LePage introduced this first (LD 1822), but Democrats opposed it. Governor LePage also prohibited the use of EBT cards at liquor stores, gambling facilities, and adult venues. He’s such a grumpy killjoy!
Promote a Tiered Reduction in Welfare. If this sounds familiar, you are right. Paul LePage campaigned on this his first time around. Eliot heard so much of it on the campaign trail; it must have grown on him. This was one major point of the Governor’s campaign and was also introduced as bills by two Republicans, Ken Fredette and Mel Newendyke. The Democrats killed both bills.
TurboCharge TANF Assessments. The Lepage Administration has already been issuing assessments to TANF, moving recipients into the workforce, much to the chagrin of Democrats.
Make Education Pay. LePage made Maine the 44th State to put a 5-year cap on TANF. This cut the TANF rolls in half and a portion of the savings was used to increase funding for the Departments of Labor and Education.
Link Public Assistance to Family Responsibility. In 2011, Republican lawmakers and the Governor imposed strict sanctions for rule violations. This included loss of adult benefits for a first offense, and full family sanction for a second. Recently, the Governor has required that able-bodied recipients volunteer, work, or go to school as a condition for benefits, as well as drug testing.
Improve Accountability at DHHS. The Governor has already cut unnecessary staff positions and hired eight new welfare fraud investigators. He has implemented a new policy that insures private insurance is used before Medicaid, consolidated offices within the Department, and made welfare fraud a Class D crime. Maine now conforms to the Federal law in suspension of payments to MaineCare providers who commit fraud, and the list goes on.
Recent polling shows that an overwhelming number of Maine residents are demanding welfare reform, which is probably the reason for Eliot Cutler’s “Plan”. While he must be commended for copying and pasting many of the Governor’s ideas, he is a little late to the party. Perhaps, we’d better let the man who is already fixing the problem continue his work, not a Johnny Come Lately.