Saluting Paul LePage's late honeymoon

Usually, a new governor enjoys what, in political circles, is called a honeymoon.

Like a real honeymoon, it is usually short-lived — a brief period of political bliss in which the new governor has the goodwill of the people and the press. This is especially so when a governor wins by a large margin and appears to enjoy widespread, popular support at the onset of his term.

Suffice it to say Maine's newest governor, Paul LePage, never enjoyed that brief and shimmering reprieve from widespread public and media criticism. It's fair to say he got off to a rocky start.

And early on, LePage, elected by a slim margin in a three-way race, did little to help his own cause. Be it his less-than-diplomatic gaffes or outright insults hurled with bombastic language and tone, LePage got off to a controversial start with the media and his political critics.

To LePage's great credit, he has hung in there and his image in the public has spun around dramatically, according to a recent Critical Insights Poll released Wednesday. Through the clamor of his various public-relations missteps, LePage has stayed laser-focused on important issues: the economy and jobs.

A tireless advocate for reducing the regulatory burden on businesses small and large, and for making government more efficient and more focused on customer service, LePage has earned his newfound popularity.

He's done it not by being apologetic or by kowtowing, but by calling it as he sees it. In his unvarnished way, he has relayed his ideas in simple and sometimes blunt form to the people he governs.

It's been effective.

As a successful businessman, LePage came to office with a “my-way-or-the-highway” approach. He has tempered that tone and approach in what's been a steep learning curve.

While it always sounds good to say government should be run like a business, the simple fact is it cannot be.

LePage, despite a Republican majority in the Legislature, has found even those in his own party throwing up obstacles to his agenda. Unlike a business CEO, a governor can't simply order a legislature to do his bidding.

LePage seems to have finally recognized that and seems to understand that governing is a complicated and sometimes frustrating process.

Meanwhile, the public seems to recognize that he's grown into the job.

Last spring, only 31 percent of Mainers in a Critical Insights Poll approved of the way LePage was doing his job. In the most recent poll, 47 percent gave the governor a thumbs-up.

This jump in the polls shows that LePage's message and less strident delivery are working.

But we also suspect LePage — who pans both polls and newspaper editorials — is more interested in doing his job and reaching his goals than winning a popularity contest.

On Thursday, LePage was on the job again, working on his economic agenda in Quebec, where he was meeting with government officials to see how the Canadian province and Maine might work together to lower energy costs for business and promote cross-border economic development.

As he travels, he must take satisfaction in knowing more Mainers now stand behind his efforts.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

Hi Bob

!. I am pretty sure you can not outlive your earned benefit in Social Security ,(source Social Security Admin )
2. you may want to ask Sen. Snowe or Collins to get you the amount of money Social Security has "invested" in US Bonds and at what interest rate over the years.
3. I have been actively working to receive my fair share of the 20+ years of Social Security I have paid in for 10 years -- All four of Maines Congress people have helped , both parties agree it is "unfair" but both parties will do nothing but lip service. Many People do not believe that the Scoial Security Offset is real but it it is very real
4. MePers has also raised the retirement age from 60 to 62 and last year for new hires to 65.
5. According to MePers news Fall 2011 the legislature changes in the plan reduced the cost for 2012-2013 by $508 million dollars -- yes that is money right out of the income of State, teacher, legislative and Judicial members of the Maine retirement system .
6. I really do want Social Security to pay it earned benefits and we all should hold every politician in office responsible - I will be fighting to save Social Security and will not vote for anyone who will be taking away your earned benefits.

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

heres your answers Mr. Stone

I am 60 years old( retired because of health issues-- I paid into both Social Security and , the Maine Reirement systems because I worked several jobs besides teaching to make ends meet like many others .-- I started paying Social Security at age 14 and Maine State retiremnt at age 23 when I earned my degree which I worked to pay for. I paid 34 years to Maine retirement and 20+ off and on to Sccial Security.. I Paid over 7% of each of my checks to Maine retirement so a lot of the money you are calling MAINES in MINE and other retires --we paid it in just like you paid in to Social Security. Social Security has money in the form of Billions in US BOND -- so you will lose your money only if the USA defaults on it BONDs. I am sure you will work to make sure this does not happen.
If your are in Socail security you have an earned benefits agreement with the USA -- you paidabout 6% per check and have earned a benefit based on the agreement- you should be holding your US SEn. and Reps to the agreement. I will not be able to collect my earned Social Security like you -- because I paid into the Maine system the Federal govt' will take 2/3 of my earned benefits from the money I paid in for years to Social Security . So I am so lucky I have the Federal govt taking away my social security (Social Security OFFset Law) and the State of Maine taking MY COLA -- I really hope you fair better with your Social Security .
Maine does not reserve money for the private sector because you did not pay into the maine retirement system

Bob Stone's picture

I am 60 years old( retired

I am 60 years old( retired because of health issues-- I paid into both Social Security and , the Maine Reirement systems because I worked several jobs besides teaching to make ends meet like many others .
***Hope you have a long and happy retirement. With that defined benefit plan, you won't have to worry about outliving your retirement. Good for you.

-- I started paying Social Security at age 14 and Maine State retiremnt at age 23 when I earned my degree which I worked to pay for. I paid 34 years to Maine retirement and 20+ off and on to Sccial Security.. I Paid over 7% of each of my checks to Maine retirement so a lot of the money you are calling MAINES in MINE and other retires --we paid it in just like you paid in to Social Security.

***There is no equivalence between MAINEPers and Social Security. Your contributions were quite wisely and properly invested, and earned interest (9.5% average return over the past 30 years). There was no such investment of your (and mine) social security contributions.

***Note: Interested readers can click over to www.maineopengov.org and see your retirement date, your wages in the year you retired, your contribution into MAINEPers and the projected payments that you will receive during your projected retirement. It is quite instructive.

Social Security has money in the form of Billions in US BOND -- so you will lose your money only if the USA defaults on it BONDs.

***Not true: The pols in Washington can change the rules of the SS game at any time, and have. They can raise retirement age (now 67); they can means test; they can default. Many ways to move the goalposts, and more and more likely with the passing months.

I am sure you will work to make sure this does not happen.

***I have one vote. I will try.

If your are in Socail security you have an earned benefits agreement with the USA -- you paidabout 6% per check and have earned a benefit based on the agreement- you should be holding your US SEn. and Reps to the agreement.

***Ha ha. Good attempt at humor. Michaud is down there, spending like a drunken fork lift driver. ANd Snowe and Collins have been busily spending my contributions for years.

I will not be able to collect my earned Social Security like you -- because I paid into the Maine system the Federal govt' will take 2/3 of my earned benefits from the money I paid in for years to Social Security . So I am so lucky I have the Federal govt taking away my social security (Social Security OFFset Law) and the State of Maine taking MY COLA --

***Why is that fair? You should be getting a return on your invested social security contributions like the rest of the contributors. Call your congress person! The recent adjustments to COLA are deminimus in comparsion to the screw job you are getting.

By the way, MAINEPers had to dip into principal recently to cover payments OUT that exceeded payments IN. I think to the tune of $181 million. That might give you an idea as to why some corrective action was necessary by the legislature. (see 'taking MY COLA)

I really hope you fair better with your Social Security .

***Another good laugh. No chance, Ms. Ward.

Maine does not reserve money for the private sector because you did not pay into the maine retirement system.

***Nor do I expect that any money would be reserved by Maine. I did expect that my contribution would be reserved, and they were not. I wonder how many working Mainers have any idea that what they have put has been spent?

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

What ?

The COLA for the Maine State Reitremnt system is determines by the Maine Legis.since it is a state program and we also have had no COLA for now three years and may have two more year to go without. If you are talking Social Security that is a Federal gov't program controlled in D.C. and the Fed. Legis. Social Security will recieve a COLA of 3.6% COLA increase starting in Jan 2012.

So I have paid the State of Maine a lot in missing COLAs (This is a State tax)

AL PELLETIER's picture

raises

I'll be interested in knowing if Lepage's daughter gets a bigger then 3.6% raise this year. Between the act of keeping a $42,000 a year Maine government job in the family and hiding a publicly owned mural he created his own honeymoon misery. And Scott, he was not a CEO, he was a GM. Big difference. Although his first few months garnished unpopular attention I wish him well and hope his last few months will be productive for the people of Maine.

Mark Elliott's picture

all 134 of them!

all 134 of them!

Mark Elliott's picture

actually, LOL I meant 86 of

actually, LOL I meant 86 of them!

Bob Woodbury's picture

Now with his proposal...

...to limit local control and take away education money, honeymoon's over. Foot firmly entrenched in mouth once again.

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

Highest tax ever

Gov. Lepage and the republicans passed the highest ever Tax on Maines public retired people ever seen. The dictionary defines a tax as government taking income from the people and using it for government uses. Maine Public Retired people in the required Maine retirement system lost there COLA (income) currently set to go up for those in the Federal Social Security retirement system by 3.6%. Maines retired have been outragesously TAXED by well over $200 million dollors this year to go to other government programs. I wonder how many other Mainers would like to be taxed an extra $1000 this year. While retired people on a fixed income get MORE taxes the very wealthy get LESS taxes. In what world would this tax burden be called FAIR?
Has standing behind Gov. LePage cost you over a $1000?

Bob Stone's picture

You Doth Protest Too Much, Crystal

A few questions:

1. At what age did you retire? Most of my associates in the private sector are working well into their 60's and projections are for private sector employees to work longer and longer.

2. What is your pension amount, gross, per month? I have worked and contributed to FICA since I was 13 years of age. All of my contributions have been spent by the Democrats and Republicans in Washington. Any future Social Security income are totally dependent on future congresses agreeing to appropriate then current dollars for SS benefits for my wife and I. I believe you have a "defined benefit" that will have to be paid, come hell or high water, by Maine's taxpayers. The last I checked, the state had reserved $9.6 BILLION in the MAINEPers fund as of September 30th. Please note that there is NOTHING reserved for private sector workers.

I doubt that you will answer my questions, but you are in a much better position financially than most of us laboring in the private sector. I have no problem with educators pensions. Just don't whine before you look at the sad plight of the people who are still working to pay their bills.

RONALD RIML's picture

No Comparison

Bob - FICA (Social Security) is not a Pension Program, and was never designed as one; it was designed as an income floor to keep people out of poverty during retirement, and as a form of disability insurance.

For you to compare it to anyone else's pension program is disingenuous at best. You are expected to find a career path with it's own pension program - private or public. That you didn't is not the fault of anyone but yourself.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

Why should they get a COLA?

The Obam-minions tell us there has been no inflation and so the cost-of-living has stayed steady. That's the excuse for no COLA in Social Security for the previous two years. They're right, of course, unless you like to eat.

I know exactly what your standing behind Obama has cost me. I pay income taxes. What has it cost you?

RONALD RIML's picture

Much more complicated than 'eating'

The rules and formula for computing the Social-Security COLA existed long before Barack Obama became President, and involve much more than merely the cost of food.

But if you're Mike LeBlanc it's so much easier to just simplify the entire calculation and blame it all on one person.

Like burning offerings when one wishes more rain.....

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