LePage's opponents get worked up over '47 percent' remark

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday came under fire from political opponents after a liberal activist and blogger published an audio clip in which the governor told a friendly crowd that “47 percent of able-bodied people in Maine don’t work.”

AP file photo

Gov. Paul LePage

The number isn’t backed up by any official labor statistics. LePage’s communications staff didn’t directly respond to questions about where the figure came from, but said the governor’s comment reflected his concern about the number of Mainers on welfare compared to those holding jobs.

The audio was recorded clandestinely during an event in Falmouth held by a conservative women’s group. The recording has been given to liberal activist and BDN blogger Mike Tipping, who has posted several clips in recent weeks from the reportedly 90-minute recording.

In the most recent post, the governor can be heard telling the group that “about 47 percent of able-bodied people in the state of Maine don’t work.”

The crowd responds with disapproving groans, to which LePage repeats himself: “About 47 percent. It’s really bad.”

According to the Maine Department of Labor, a bit more than 65 percent of Maine civilians over the age of 16 — about 709,000 — are working or actively seeking work. That leaves about 35 percent who aren’t doing either. However, that number includes not only “able-bodied” Mainers, but others who aren’t usually expected to seek work, such as the long-term disabled, seniors, retirees and full-time students.

That figure is called the “labor force participation rate.” It’s calculated by dividing the number of workers and job-seekers, the 709,000 figure above, by the total number of Mainers above the age of 16, which the Maine Department of Labor places at about 1,085,000. The national labor force participation rate is slightly lower, at about 63 percent.

The comment quickly received national attention, and was examined by outlets ranging from The Washington Post to MSNBC.

LePage’s spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, said in a written response that the governor “understands that not everyone who is dependent on taxpayer dollars is ‘able-bodied,’ but he does believe that everyone, regardless of their ability or physical condition, can contribute to society in a meaningful way.

“Liberal activists are determined to increase the number of residents who take tax dollars by expanding the size of government and the benefits government workers get and increasing the welfare rolls,” she said.

Bennett also pointed to a 2012 report by the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center that outlined a decade of expanding welfare rolls in the state.

LePage’s 2014 gubernatorial opponents — Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and independent businessman Eliot Cutler — quickly blasted the governor in an attempt to create a campaign issue by accusing him of spreading misinformation.

Wrote Michaud: “Those aren’t the Maine workers I know. I worked for 29 years at Great Northern Paper Co. and I know that Maine workers are some of the hardest working in the world. They take pride in their work and they deserve a governor who will take pride in them. It’s time we have a governor who will lift Maine up and be a champion of this state, not put it down with misinformation and attacks.”

Cutler called the remarks “patently false and insulting to the people of a state known for their work ethic and ingenuity.” He also took to Twitter, where he alluded to another “47 percent” remark that drew sharp criticism in a hotly contested campaign.

Last year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told the crowd at a $50,000 per-plate fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans are “dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

Romney’s comments proved detrimental to his presidential bid as critics cast him as out-of-touch with regular Americans. Romney later said he had been “completely wrong.”

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MARK GRAVEL's picture

Shoot, 47% sounds correct

Shoot, 47% sounds correct once we add in all those able bodied people under 16 and older than 10.


Telling it like it is

For a guy who likes to say he talks plain he sure is making it hard to guess which kind of plain talk he is doing lately. Is it the kind where he is just "joking" ? Or maybe it is the kind where he is just mathematically impaired and takes a stab at the numbers. Or maybe it is the kind where he is just mechanically tossing out Heritage talking points no matter how stupid they may be. Or maybe it is the kind of plain talk you do when you want to snow the ladies and impress them with your big talk. In any case his talks in the future should come with a disclaimer. It may be plain talking but it probably is not too closely acquainted with the truth.

WOW! !!!! MSNBC picked up

WOW! !!!! MSNBC picked up the story!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Faux Noise isn't Fair and Balanced...funny how they like to keep LePage the dog and pony show and other morons like him in the barn locked up in the stench and out of site of the sensitive Tbaggers ....

 's picture

hahahahaha Tank yoo berry

hahahahaha Tank yoo berry much. It was nice too here frum you. I hope I am not typing to fass for ya. I wonder if this guy was....in disguise. I ll call Paul tomorrow....tell him to watch out.....there is a democratic operative.....under his bed. With a tape recorder.

 's picture

Sneaking in a clandestine

Sneaking in a clandestine tape recorder? Hahahahahahahaha. Ohh, we all miss the days of owing the hospitals, you remember? And taxing haircuts? Sending our head of the turnpike authority on lavish vaca's for years and years. And it goes on and on.....Where will they have tape recorder s next? Michaud's wonderful career at the papermill. Where he and his family and friends had to walk to work up hill, everyday, both ways. It ll get thicker and thicker.

RONALD RIML's picture

First you cry and whine about 'unsubstantiated rumors'

Then when the 'Guver-nator' gets recorded over-running his mouth, you complain someone had the tape handy.

Day-um - jist can't shit straight to please the LePage Peasantry..... Perhaps if Paulie Buffoon would clean up his act - you wouldn't have to ever be on the defensive for him.

Steve  Dosh's picture

LePage's opponents get worked up over '47 percent' remark

Mainers , Tuesday 16:40 PST ?
Hahhah ! Whelp , if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen , Paul . Oh ! We forgot . You never go in the kitchen . A woman's place is in the kitchen !
Susan Collins in Maine's Blaire House kitchen
Head Chef http://www.ciachef.edu/ ?
Leave Paul • Now
hth , Steve

FRANK EARLEY's picture

When will it ever end??????????

When I saw the two words which indicate impending disaster, I braced myself. When I see the words "LePage", and "comment", in the same headline, it's never good news for the people of Maine. It has been a couple of weeks since the good Governor has put his foot in his mouth, so I guess we were overdue.
This particular statement has struck a nerve with me personally. I've been having a friendly back and forth with the likes of Mr. Gravel, concerning work eligibility. In all actuality, my issue has been with people putting everyone with legitimate reasons to be receiving assistance, in the same group as those cheating the system. I'm getting tired of people assuming that if a person is receiving any assistance at all they are automatically assumed to be abusing the system. They also don't seem to realize that there are many different types of assistance out there.
It's one thing to have a discussion among friends about the issue, but to have the Governor of your State to come out with such a thoughtless statement is absolutely unforgivable. A statement like that just adds fuel to the stereotypical view that if your not working, your cheating. People tend to feel that if your receiving financial assistance, they have the right to dictate what you can and can't have in life. Because they just assume their paying for your livelihood. When Paul LePage makes irresponsible statements like that he's just adding fuel to the fire. He needs to learn when to keep his mouth shut.............

Jeff Wilkins's picture

The problem...

The problem is Frank that people who do work for a living and do not receive assistance are getting tired. Tired of the government reaching into our pockets and helping themselves. We're tired of being told that we need to work hard to support others. Our budgets are extremely tight and we work really hard for what we have.

Yes, there are people who do need help and *can't* work. These people require assistance. That's not everyone though. A large portion of those on assistance are there because they don't have any marketable skills. They slacked off during high school, partied during college, and now they don't understand why they can't get a 'good' job. There are single parents, who because of poor planning and lack of effort have children they can't afford. They are people who never bothered to learn any useful skills and can only get jobs at McDonald's or Dunkin' Donuts and wonder why they can't support themselves.

Yes, there are people who are truly in need. Someone who had a good job and lost it and now struggles to pay bills. Someone who retired and due to rising taxes can't afford to pay their medical bills. Good people who need a little help, mostly temporary. However, from what people like myself can see, they are indeed the minority. The majority of people on assistance are on assistance because of their own choices in life. Again, I'm basing this on the people I've met personally. I'd love to see actual statistics on our welfare programs broken out by age, length of assistance, education, state of birth, etc. I don't believe that information is made public though, so we're left to point fingers at each other.

JOHN PAINTER's picture

Jeff, not exactly what you

Jeff, not exactly what you were looking for but is a place to start https://gateway.maine.gov/dhhs-apps/dashboard/Default.aspx

Jeff Wilkins's picture


Thanks John, that's a useful link. However, as you pointed out it doesn't do any kind of intelligent breakout. I'd love to see an analytical breakdown of who exactly is receiving funds, where their state of birth is, and how long they remain on assistance.

Bob White's picture

Frank I was watching the

Frank I was watching the pre-race show Sunday and they had the coolest story on there maybe you should look it up if you didn't watch it. There was a guy who works with Hendricks Motor Sports which if you don't know is one of or the best team in Nascar. This gentleman is a engineer and he has no arms yep that's right no arms at all. He was born that way and his parents wanted him to grow up as normal as possible. He drives they showed him washing his car even working underneath one of his project vehicles. It was really cool. Also saw they had a news story on how Tambrand in Auburn were hiring people that had learning disabilities which I thought that was great. I know Frank what your thinking the gentlemen that was born without arms is no way worst off then you just because he can work doesn't mean you can. The difference between you and him is he wants to work you don't (excesses). There are plenty of your type out there and there are plenty of the gentleman that was born without arms out there as well. What do you think his parents and himself told his doctor?

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Bob, you just don't get it.........

I technically still am employed, I would love to work. Do you actually believe that I enjoy sitting home all the time. Do you actually think for one second I gave up a very large salary, just to receive what I'm getting now. Let me explain this so even you can understand.
Have you ever had something like the Flu, or some other nasty bug that makes you feel really crappy for a few days, you may stay home from work, but in a couple of days your feeling much better and you go back to work? Well what I have isn't a disability like missing arms, or a prosthetic leg. I have an illness, just like the flu. Only this illness makes me feel crappy all the time, it never goes away. It never will go away. I have to take massive amounts of medications just to make it bearable. Sure I can do a lot of things, just like the guy with no arms. He taught himself a way around his little obstacle. I can do things for short periods of time. That doesn't mean when I'm doing them, I'm not in excruciating pain. You see that's my disability, excruciating pain. I have taught myself to endure the pain, and that allows me to do things.
I don't know if you have ever broken a leg or an arm. I have, several times, and I'm aware of the pain involved with a broken bone. I have nerve pain, like when you have a toothache. I would love a couple of days with the pain level of a broken leg. It would be like a vacation to me. Now imagine going into work, with the level of pain I experience, along with the massive medications I have to take as a result of this pain, and then sit down to work. I don't think so. My company feels the same way. I am officially out on long term disability, as far as the company goes. They are very helpful in helping me, and I even get the annual Christmas present. That and My SSDI, and I'm getting by just fine. Unfortunately, my days of getting up and going to work are over. So quit telling me to go out and get a job, please.................................

Bob White's picture

Gee Frank

"Sure I can do a lot of things, just like the guy with no arms. He taught himself a way around his little obstacle" Wow You think having no arms as a "Little Obstacle". You must think all our Vets that have lost limbs in the war are just carrying on for nothing and the people that lost limbs in the Boston bombing must be ridicules because they are face with a "little obstacle" because of losing there body parts. I like how you twist having no arms as its just a little obstacle this coming from a guy who chooses to stay home who chooses to complain and who chooses not to do anything to make his life any better. Even you admit you can do a lot of things but you still choose the road "please pity me". I don't like people that all they do is play the victim and Frank when I see you post on here as a victim I will call you out on it.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Bob, enough is enough..............

I've tried being nice, I've answered all your questions, but I am now going to tell you just like it is. You need psychological help. You definitely have a screw loose somewhere. You my friend are far more disabled than I am, and for that I feel sorry for you. Don't come back and tell me how wrong I am, because I'm not, you are. The fact that you don't seem to realize that, is reason enough to label you nuts. Please stop embarrassing yourself any further. I don't know what your problem is, and I don't really care. You shouldn't go around telling disabled people they are lying, very impolite. Have a nice day, and quit responding.............

Steve  Dosh's picture

Frank ? Ayuh • Open foot

Frank ? Ayuh • Open foot insert mouth [ sic.] /s Steve

 's picture

It Sounds About Right Here

OK let the gimme crew here prove that statement wrong! Thats about 53% of people that are working and paying taxes to support 47% deadbeats.

The truth is a hard thing at times

Burden of proof is on the

Burden of proof is on the Governor. He made the statement, he needs to back it up. Labor statistics, not the liberals, say he's wrong. Can you prove otherwise?

Bob White's picture

Is the nubmer

Is the number "47%" a real number? If it is then we should all be upset and if its not then who cares its just words.


Ace Investigative Reporting

If you cannot recognize poor journalism by now you should believe everything that lands in print.
This falls under the category of unsubstantiated gossip. Get ready folks the 2014 lie machine is being geared up . How much crap can we feed the uninformed.
Where is the integrity in the profession today? This underemployed blogger from the BDN won,t even release the whole tape. The Editor missed his calling, he would do well in the tabloids.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Channel 6 news tonight

The gossip was heard loud and clear. Sorry Brooks.


Prove it !

Post a link to the Full tape so we can listen and all draw our own conclusions. Gossip vs Fact.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Pauly proved with his own lips...listen for yourself...


Better clean your ears, it might burn your mind....

FRANK EARLEY's picture

The whole recording isn't released yet.............

It's just being released a little at a time. Dragging out the suspense I would imagine................


At this point I would give

At this point I would give him benefit of the doubt as to whether he did say 47% or simply "the large number". We have to bear in mind that the Democrats and other opposing groups are well organized and quite vocal in their opposition to the Governor. Paul Lepage is not very polished, but at least everyone knows where he stands. Personally I feel his opponents are too vocal and illustrate the worst side of American politics.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

This latest fiasco...........

This latest Gubernatorial fiasco actually started a couple of days ago. There's more to come. Anyone hear about the 42 million he has hidden from the Legislature? His answer to that was he was just kidding. Ya, that was on the same recording.
This guy has obviously lost his mind. no one could be that stupid.................

Bob White's picture

The only People

The only people that are upset are the people that it pertains to. I will say I am worked up over the people that can work but don't.

AL PELLETIER's picture

And it never ends.

If only he would remember to bring his duct tape and USE IT!


hook line and sinker

I guess we know lying is still affective. Yes it's spelled the way I intended.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


deniability ...Brooks Pauly has been a liar since he was a teengager and bully....FACT....I know the family that raised him very very well....

Bob White's picture

You cry that he was a bully

You cry that he was a bully all the time and you brag you knew the family ...Big deal. Your a bully in here with your name calling.


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