J. Churchill: Short-sighted legislation

In his State of the State address, Gov. Paul LePage said that last year the Maine Legislature passed the largest tax cut in Maine’s history. How short-sighted was that when, now, state officials are ready to dismantle health care and other services that help the state's most vulnerable citizens — the elderly, the disabled and children?

If the proposal passes, granny might not be able to have occupational or physical therapy services that would help her stay out of a nursing home. Children referred to Child Protective Services could be at the risk of staying in desperate situations. For what? So taxes could be cut for the state’s most fortunate?

I imagine that most people who benefit from that tax cut would prefer to ensure that Maine continues as a state that cares about its children, elders and disabled.

Joan Churchill, Buckfield

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 's picture

May that was the plan

Passing the largest tax cut in state history created an artificial budget deficit that LePage could "fix" my making poor people pay for the tax cuts. Taxes should be increased by $225 million.

 's picture

State of the state

If the state can't change the rules of DHHS and going to Wash. won't do any good then who made the rules in the first place? Are they written in cement like all of Congress gets a cost of living raise regardless of the economy unlike the rest of us. Most of the elderly that are being helped at least one time in their lives have worked and contributed to the system but kids having kids regularly for the state to support has got to be "worked on" to say the least. No sense in closing the barn door after the horse has left. Some of them have no regard to the welfare of the child they are gonna have as they KNOW that they just have to go "sign up" We don't have enough classrooms but we have to have nurseries. You can be compelled to go to school or whatever in order to get your check but alot of it is just lip service. They are going to get the check and not for their future of paying their own way. This is NOT a blanket statement and to those that aren't guilty of it then you should be as offended as anyone else and not to mention the innocent children.


Ok gentlemen, here is one for

Ok gentlemen, here is one for all of you. A letter was received this week and my understanding is that Maine most likely will NOT receive the waiver it is going to need. So with that in mind, what happens if the legislature makes these proposed cuts and then we do NOT get the waiver? Will we owe the federal government more money? Will we lose more federal money? Will we have an even bigger problem then we do now?

Second, Lepage wants to go to Washington to talk with the DHHS secretary so that we can get the waiver.....how does he think he can change her mind since other states have tried and been denied. He can't bully her, he can't threaten her, he can't tell her to kiss his butt so just how is he going to change her mind?

Who is paying for his trip to Washington....Maine is broke he says?

This current budget problem cannot be solved in this manner if it could possibly cost the state more money.

 's picture

Lepage paid for the trip himself

Read the following link, you'll notice at the end it does say Lepage paid for the trip to New Orleans himself.
http://politicalpulse.sunjournal.com/post/15777516305/lepage-gets-chummy..., but no, yeah, you keep typing lies with no sources. I mean if you type it, it must be true.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

LaPage cut the top income tax

LaPage cut the top income tax rate from 8.5% to 7.95%. The top income tax rate kicks in for individuals making about $20,000.

So how does this tax cut only benefit the most fortunate?

Let me answer that question for you. Implicit in your diatribe is the individuals that make more should carry a progressively greater tax burden, or I should more appropriately say carry a disproportional amount of someone else’s spending.

Maine’s income tax is a flat tax for everyone earning above $20k. Isn’t 7.95% of 80K already more than 7.95% of 40K – isn’t that fair enough?

 's picture

estate tax

Raising the estate tax exemption from a paltry million to five million benefits the 400 or 500 poor heirs who did not earn a single penny of their inheritance. Where are your priorities, man? And when you average it all out it looks like everybody gets a tax cut.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The priority should be to

The priority should be to eliminate the estate tax. The State should not be in the business of taking your money just because you die. Property rights should prevail.

 's picture


"Property rights should prevail". Over what? If Property Rights prevail, then you are creating a economic aristoracy reducing social mobility, and preventing the development of a meritocracy. All contrary to individualism and social responsibility.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Given that there is an

Given that there is an existing estate tax and there exist a concentration of wealth with the top 1% as you read this post, you should reexamine your argument since the estate tax does not prevent wealth concentration.

The money I earn and legally pay taxes on, is my property.

 's picture

Thanks fr confirming my argument

If the estate tax does not prevent multi-generational concentration of wealth and it doesn't as Mr. Romney's tax returns prove, I don't understand why you think my view needs to be reexamined. Property Rights are derived from other rights. They are conditional because the other rights are conditional (as all right really are). Property rights ultimately are incentives to stimulate progressive change in a society (standard of living, economic growth) as long as those rights are consistent with their purpose fine; but they are not independent of the society that defines them nor government.
John Locke said it best (paraphrase) If something is in surplus (readily available to all people such that if every one acquired it more would remain in a ntural state), then it became some one's property by his converting it through his labor to be of use. Locke example was acorns. If everyone collected them more would remain. They became an individuals property because the individual expended labor (his energy, life, etc) to convert them from acorns lying on the ground to roasted acorns on a skillet. But! But! notice the in surplus. If something is not in surplus society must come up with a scheme to ration them (property rights must become conditional). If some people have more opportunity than others, society must come up with conditional property rights. If the conversion from a natural state to a useful state limits those who can benefit, society must condition property rights. Governmental advancement has come from the understanding that "use" rights are derived from the situation and not to power and violence.
Multi-generational accumulation of wealth defeats a fundamental principle of republican government - all men have a role in government. Beyond some quantitative range wealth is the enemy of republican government. A faction in Madison's meaning.
The closer a society gets to "If I earn it its mine" the better it is up to but not including the point where what I earn prevents others from exerciing their rightsd within our society. Our laws have been changed over the last 30 years such that the property rights of a few threaten the principles of republican government.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Like most arguments for

Like most arguments for social justice, like your illustration, is based on a utopia that does not exist in the real world.

First, you assume a resource is infinite (i.e. acorns), which it is not. That being said, there will be individual competition for the resource as it becomes less available. People will tend to hoard – exhibit greed.

Secondly, say I notice the amount of acorns that individual’s desire are in diminishing supply; I expend the time, energy and sacrifice my acorns to plant and grow 50 oak trees; I harvest the acorns and sell them ; I become very wealthy.

The above is an illustration of equal opportunity, not equal outcome as you are purporting. Anyone could have planted their acorns like I did, but I’m the only one who did, so I benefit from my actions.
I know you mean well, but your argument is based on a contrived idealistic environment, which in no way models the real-world. In the real world, resources are finite, humans exhibit greed and envy, and status quo will not persist – that is, some people will be producers to supply the wants of the consumers in a society.

As proof, consider this mental exercise. Assume that all the wealth in the US is collected and distributed equally amongst the population; thereby providing equal opportunity as you espouse. Do you think the status quo will be maintained? No, in a very short time the wealth will be concentrated in pretty much the same hands as it was prior to equalization.

Why does this happen when everyone started with equal opportunity? It is because equal opportunity does not guarantee equal outcome. As humans, we are all have differently levels of intelligence, ambition, tolerance for risk, … , on and on.

In the real world, you can never, ever equalize outcome; therefore, your utopia is doomed to fail.

In that sense, perhaps you should reexamine your argument.

 's picture

I didn't assume the resource

I didn't assume the resource is infinite; if any one did it was Locke. But he presented two cases one where it was and one where it wasn't as I wrote.
I do not assume or support equal outcomes; I only mentioned equal opportunities so maybe you need to re-read my comment.
Apparently, you didn't read my comment. My argument is not based on a "contrived idealistic environment - Locke's was. I show where real world situations condition the right of private property. If all wealth is distributed equally is not providing equal opportunity. Nor do I suggest in any way that the status quo will be maintained on the contrary because of how the laws have been changed I argue that the concentration of wealth will increase until the distribution of power is so distorted that republican government becomes impossible.
I don't think and I didn't suggest that equal distribution of wealth could be equalized in fact I wrote about the range of wealth.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Funny you say that. I planted

Funny you say that. I planted two oak trees in my yard in 2000. Two years later it started producing acorns. A decade later, they produced so many acorns I lament planting those trees in the first place because I have to clean them up each year.

Go figure.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

So, if I mandate in my will

So, if I mandate in my will that 100% of my assets be liquidated and burnt, I should not have to pay estate tax since heirs did not inherit it – correct?

If the above statement is not correct, then it is the estate that is taxed, not the heirs.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Well Dan, what facts you gave

Well Dan, what facts you gave me should I use?

1. “they are TAXING your heirs,..” , or
2. “…public, it is entitled to get some back.”
3. None of the above.

Firstly, given that a molecule of minutia forced you to change your premise says loads.

Secondly, assume that I create a business, say in Thailand, and I amass my fortune. Since I did not use any public largess, I should not owe estate tax – correct? Again, a molecule of minutia clouds our premise.

I’ll give you that the estate should pay taxes on any gains that have not already been taxed, but the estate tax is far more aggressive.

So would you again like to justify the estate tax? Perhaps it is as simple as another method for a government, made of men who are subject to greed, to extract wealth from its citizens. No logical reason needed.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Dan, I understand your

I understand your frustration in trying to justify a practice using moral argumentation that comes loose around the edges with a modicum of criticism.

My inebriated uncle has the best argument for justifying the estate tax that I've heard to date. “The government has to get its money somewhere and dead people cannot vote.” Perhaps that is what you should argue instead of trying to morally justify the practice.

But then, some people need to create the villain to morally justify taking what they have not earned.

I hope you enjoy the outdoors.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

A sample size of 60 or fewer

A sample size of 60 or fewer individuals on this forum in a state of 1.3+ million doesn’t make a state consensus. Electing LaPage with 61% majority says otherwise.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Plain and simple – if you

Plain and simple – if you don’t vote, you don’t count!
You can attempt to twist the results all you want.


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