R. Macdonald: A different side of the story


In response to Rachel Lowe’s guest column Dec. 30, “Set policy based on fact, not rhetoric” is to say, look who is calling the kettle black.

Lowe accuses me of making up statistics; every statistic I use comes directly from Lewiston General Assistance.

She cherry picks as liberals do. She speaks about the welfare policies of the New England states, stating that Maine has the lowest welfare payments in New England. She excludes many states, such as Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama, where Maine’s monthly welfare payments are the equivalent of hitting the jackpot at the Oxford Casino.

She paints a picture of a family of three struggling to get by on a $485 monthly TANF payment. She writes, “that’s about $16 a day to support a family.” Is she being deceptive by failing to add subsidized housing, up to $526 in food stamps and free MaineCare? If pregnant or the parent of small children, the WIC program provides additional nourishment and sundries. Free school breakfasts and lunches are available. If the recipient is currently working or going to school through the ASPIRE program, child care and any transportation incurred is paid for.

Suddenly the Dickens’ image of a mother huddled with her children on a cold night selling matchsticks evaporates.

The key to the column was in the small print at the end which identifies Ms. Lowe as the past president of an advocacy group, Maine Equal Justice Partners, a nonprofit, civil legal aid and advocacy organization. They advocate for many who I refer to as the lazy non-productive poor (the working poor, key word “working,” are not included in the aforementioned group). Before a legislative committee, Lowe’s facts (or lack thereof) usually go unchallenged, resulting in bad legislation and further fiscal burden on the taxpaying public.

Further, to counter any future class warfare response, corporate welfare and welfare for the unproductive comes from the same trough, which is continually being filled by the labors of middle class taxpayers.

I am not a go-along-to-get-along cowardly public official. To solve problems, you must define and attack the problem and not worry that the solution might be “hurtful.”

So, I thank Ms. Lowe for letting me know I am on the right track.

Mayor Robert Macdonald,

City of Lewiston