Maine’s Republican Governor Paul LePage pledged on Friday to veto every Democratic-sponsored bill that crosses his desk until his Democratic opposition agrees to support his constitutional amendment to eliminate the state’s income tax. Sounding like a small child angry that his parents wouldn’t buy him a new toy, LePage indignantly told reporters that “If Democrats are going to disenfranchise the Maine people, then the Governor of Maine is going to make sure that every bill that comes down from the House and the Senate with a Democrat sponsor will be required to have a two-thirds vote, because I’m going to veto every one, and I did a bunch this morning.”
Of course it is LePage’s proposed tax plan, not opposition to it, that will disenfranchise Mainers, but words have become so devoid of meaning in a political system driven by lies and propaganda that no one seemed to notice. Income tax cuts have repeatedly been shown to overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy, but in a nation where tax exemptions for yacht and private jet sales are seen as sound policy, ignorant and regressive policies like these can hardly come as a surprise anymore. Moreover, as the legacy of the Bush tax cuts has shown, income tax cuts lead to tremendous budget deficits, and this would be especially true in a state like Maine that gets half of it’s revenue from income tax. As is to be expected from a Republican party that consistently proposes and enacts bills without the slightest understanding of their effects, Gov. LePage has made no mention of how he plans to make up for the enormous loss of revenue his plan would entail. This would inevitably lead to massive cuts in services, and everyday Mainers would be deprived of quality education, medical treatment, infrastructure, and safety while the oligarchs get to pocket more of their obscene incomes rather than supporting the state. To any sane observer, this is clearly the real disenfranchisement at stake.
LePage, who has a has a history of making angry, blustering comments and storming out of hearings when he doesn’t get his way, had his anger ignited after the Democratic-majority Taxation Committee shot down his far-fetched proposal on May 13. Now, in the spoiled child manner that has become so common among Republican lawmakers, he is punishing Democratic representatives for doing their job of looking out for the Maine people. LePage already uses his veto powers freely, having vetoed 26 of 205 bills he has seen so far this term, and this obstructionism is only likely to get worse following his recent threats. The real victims of this politicking, however, will be the citizens of Maine, who will see important bills vetoed and ignored all for the vain ego of one man and his stubborn attachment to a demonstrably false idea. Indeed, while LePage talked of his motive being to “let the Maine people have a say” on the income tax cuts, the majority of the population is opposed to the idea.
Republicans seem to increasingly believe that government exists simply as a mechanism to institute all the policies they want, when they want them, and are blindly self-righteous enough to see any opposition as indefensible. Obstructionist politics, rather than any meaningful dialogue or compromise to actually serve the people and get things done, has become the norm. As Democratic House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe said about LePage, “The governor made a threat today as part of his becoming unhinged, unglued, and just being completely angry. Thats not how you operate in a divided government. That’s not how you get things done.” The statement could easily apply to the entire Republican Party, who are falling back on the ignorant, self righteous anger of six-year-olds as it becomes clear that their agenda is unworkable, unsupported, and unsustainable.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.