Archive for September 29th, 2012

Weekly Address of President Obama: It’s Time for Congress to Help Responsible Homeowners

Posted on September 29, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Hello, everybody. Four years ago this month, a crisis that started out on Wall Street almost brought down our entire economy. The nation’s biggest banks were days away from failing. The stock market – and millions of American retirement accounts – were in free-fall. Credit froze. Lending stopped. And businesses large and small didn’t even know if they’d be able to make payroll. It was a moment the likes of which few Americans had ever seen.

Today, we know the biggest cause of that crisis was reckless behavior in the housing market.

Millions of Americans who did the right and responsible thing – who shopped for a home, secured a mortgage they could afford, and made their payments on time – were badly hurt by the irresponsible actions of others. By lenders who sold loans to families who couldn’t afford them – and buyers who knew they couldn’t afford them. By speculators who were looking to make a quick buck. And by banks that packaged and sold those risky mortgages for phony profits.

When the party stopped, and the housing bubble burst, it pushed our entire economy into a historic recession – and left middle-class families holding the bag.

Four years later, the housing market is healing. Home sales and construction are up. Prices are beginning to rise. And more than a million families who began this year owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, are now back above water.

We’re moving in the right direction. But we’re not there yet. There are still millions of Americans who are struggling with their mortgages, even at a time of historically low rates.

Now, I know there are some who think that the only option for homeowners is to just stand by and hope that the market has hit bottom. I don’t agree with that.

That’s why my Administration teamed up with state attorneys general to investigate the terrible way many homeowners were treated, and secured a settlement from the nation’s biggest banks – banks that were bailed out with taxpayer dollars – to help families stay in their homes.

And that’s why we announced new steps to help responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages. Already, hundreds of thousands of Americans who were stuck in high-interest loans have been able to take advantage of lower rates and save thousands of dollars every year.

That’s not only good for those families; it’s also good for our economy. When folks are spending less on mortgage payments, they’re spending more at local businesses. And when those businesses have more customers, they start hiring more workers.

But we can do even more if Congress is willing to do their part.

Back in February I sent Congress a plan to give every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgages by refinancing at lower rates. It’s a plan that has the support of independent, nonpartisan economists and leaders across the housing industry. But Republicans in Congress worked to keep it from even getting to a vote. And here we are – seven months later – still waiting on Congress to act.

This makes no sense. Last week, mortgage rates were at historic lows. But instead of helping more and more hardworking families take advantage of those rates, Congress was away on break. Instead of worrying about you, they’d already gone home to worry about their campaigns.

The truth is, it’s going to take a while for our housing market to fully recover. But it’s going to take a lot more time – and cause a lot more hurt – if Congress keeps standing in the way. If you agree with me, I hope you’ll make your voices heard. Call your Representative. Send them an email. Show up at their town hall and tell them that when Congress comes back to Washington, they better come back ready to work. All of you are doing everything you can to meet your responsibilities. It’s time Congress did the same. Thanks and have a great weekend.

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Weekly Democratic Radio Address by Sen. Phil Bartlett (Cumberland): We’ve Been Sold a False Bill of Goods

Posted on September 29, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Audio link here.


Here in Maine we are pretty straight forward people. We will tell you what we think; and we expect the same in return. We’re honest. Hard working. We believe in a fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work. And even though we’re often too proud to ask for help, we have a keen eye for spotting a neighbor in need—and we’ll be right there to lend a helping hand.

Good Morning. I’m State Senator Phil Bartlett of Gorham. I was born and raised a Mainer. And even though I went away to college, I came back to Maine because I can’t imagine living any where else. I love the Maine-way. Our no non-sense approach to life is unmatched any where else.

We’re practical. We want things to work. If it’s broken, we fix it.

We’re humble and honest. We admit our mistakes.

These qualities exist in our neighborhoods and on Main Streets; in our schools and on our playgrounds and even—at our town hall meetings. But lately they’ve been missing in Augusta.

Sadly the political culture in Maine over the last two years has shifted dramatically. As more time goes by and more examples pile up, we’re learning that we can’t necessarily trust what we’re hearing from Governor Paul LePage and Republican leaders. Aside from the gaffes and slips of tongue, there have been too many examples where the facts don’t back up their claims.

Here’s what I mean:

Governor LePage and his Republican allies promise jobs. Yet under their leadership, we now rank 45th in the nation in job creation. We’ve lost more than 1,500 jobs and currently there are 53,000 Mainers out of work.

Let’s be clear. There have been opportunities to get people back to work but Governor LePage and the Republican majority have looked the other way. By refusing to issue bonds—already approved by Maine voters, the Governor and Treasurer are holding jobs hostage. These are real opportunities that will provide good paying jobs to Maine people today.

Governor LePage and his Republican allies promise to grow an economy where “all citizens prosper.” Yet on LePage’s watch: our New England neighbors have passed us by. While their economies are growing, ours is the only state whose economy actually shrank. Every other state in the country is seeing their income grow—Maine ranks dead last.

Governor LePage says he wants to give Mainers more affordable health care and will “fight special interests.” Yet, Republicans spearheaded an insurance overhaul that is nothing more than a race to the bottom in health care. Mainers are now paying more for less. This plan has increased premiums for more than 50% of Maine people—hurting middle aged Mainers the most. And 90% of our small businesses are paying more too—especially those with businesses in rural parts of the state and with older workers.

What’s worse, this harmful law imposes a new $22 million dollar tax that is paid by all Maine insurance holders. And while we all pay more, insurance companies have seen an increase in their profits of $1.8 million dollars. This is special interest politics at its worst.

Who are Republicans really fighting for?

Governor LePage and the Republican majority promise tax incentives for the job creators. But, let’s look at the math:

If you’re a successful small business that nets $100,000 dollars in profit after paying all your expenses, you get $550 more dollars in your pocket. Republicans are telling you that is enough money to get you to create more jobs and invest in your business. Make no mistake, an extra $550 is a nice check, but it’s not going to allow a business to hire anybody and it will not lead to significant new investment in that business. Recently a small business owner told me he’d benefit a lot more by the state, building the roads and bridges we need, invest in workforce training programs, and funding public education to help manage our property taxes.

It seems the policies of Governor LePage and the Republican majority have made it harder to live and work in this state. They’ve sold us a false bill of goods. They’ve promised one thing but have delivered something else.

It’s time those in charge in Augusta, Governor LePage and his allies, are held accountable for what they are really doing.

Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Phil Bartlett of Gorham. Have a great weekend!

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: What Is Best For Our Students?

Posted on September 29, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Audio link here.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

My administration has one primary principle that governs education policy, and it is a simple one: What is best for the student? That is the number one question that we ask ourselves when we develop education policy.

Education is the foundation to success. I know, for me, education was the catalyst that got me off the streets.

But the fact is education in Maine has become a partisan issue when it ought not to be.

I had the opportunity earlier this year to take part in the Governor’s Education Symposium hosted by the Hunt Institute and the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Former governors Jim Hunt and Jeb Bush brought together Republican and Democrat governors to talk about best practices and ways to improve our education system.

The two governors brought to the conference U.S. Education Secretary, Arne Duncan. He was a guest speaker, and believe-it-or-not, he and I agree on a lot when it comes to education.

Currently, Maine is in the process of requesting more flexibility under the No Child Left Behind Act. We’re working with Secretary Duncan to ensure we have a way to measure schools that is more realistic and more meaningful, and that we will have new, more effective tools to make our schools better.

Every state needs change agents and they have to be willing to fight for the student. In Maine, we have superintendents fighting for appropriations, principals fighting for pretty schools, and union leadership fighting for more dues. Who’s fighting for the student? The teacher. Our elected officials, you and me, need to fight for the quality teachers and a plan that shifts away from the status quo.

Our administration is focusing on reform efforts in a handful of core areas, based on work that was done in high performing states.

This brings us to Maine’s ABC Plan. ABC stands for accountability, best practices and choice.

The “C” in our plan is about Choice and I would like to share with you why this part of the plan is paramount. Another word for choice is option. If we are striving for more successful outcomes for our students we must offer multiple options. The one-size fits all approach does not work.

When we talk about options what do we mean? Well, public education works for some students, but not all of them. So, how can we reach the students who are slipping through the cracks? We do it by offering customized education through options. By way of charter schools, private, and homeschooling career and technical education, and digital learning, both online and virtual opportunities.

For the past 20 months our administration has highlighted the benefits of career and technical education. In fact, Secretary Duncan has applauded Maine’s efforts to expand access to career and technical education.

I will continue to stand up for vocational education because we know the skills that are taught at career and technical centers are what our job creators are requiring from their workers. Good-paying jobs are on the line.

Digital learning is another option our administration is focusing on. However, there is a difference between online learning and virtual learning.

Online learning doesn’t require a teacher while virtual learning does. The key to successful virtual learning is the teacher that interacts with students. If there is an effective teacher that can engage with his or her students through technology, hundreds of children can be educated successfully. With that said, it’s very important to have assistant teachers in the classroom to support the students, but a quality teacher is the critical component to making virtual education work.

Online learning is another option to provide learning opportunities to students in a way that works best for them because they can go at their own pace, set their own schedules and choose from a greater variety of courses.

Right now, we’re working on a digital learning plan that we hope will mean wider access to high quality digital learning options for all Maine students.

There are many options for students, Maine just needs to offer these options to all students not the select few who can afford it.

For me, education was a way out. It was a way out of poverty and a start to a new life. But, believe me; I had plenty of mentors along the way.

Today’s students need role models that will guide them. They need great teachers and great school leaders.

There’s nothing partisan about education when we ask ourselves what is best for our students?

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