Archive for October 6th, 2012

Weekly Address of President Obama: Congress Should Keep America Moving Forward

Posted on October 6, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Hi, everybody. Four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, we’re seeing signs that, as a nation, we’re moving forward again.

After losing about 800,000 jobs a month when I took office, our businesses have now added 5.2 million new jobs over the past two and a half years. And on Friday, we learned that the unemployment rate is now at its lowest level since I took office. More Americans are entering the workforce. More Americans are getting jobs.

But too many of our friends and neighbors are still looking for work or struggling to pay the bills – many of them since long before this crisis hit.

We owe it to them to keep moving forward. We’ve come too far to turn back now. And we’ve made too much progress to return to the policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

For example – two years ago, we put in place tougher, commonsense rules of the road for Wall Street to make sure that the kind of crisis we’ve been fighting back from never happens again.

These rules mean that big banks are no longer going to be able to make risky bets with your deposits. And if a big bank does make a bad decision, they pay for it – not taxpayers.

And we also put in place the strongest consumer protections in our history to crack down on the worst practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders.

But for some reason, some Republicans in Congress are still waging an all-out battle to delay, defund and dismantle these commonsense new rules.

Why? Do they think undoing rules that protect families from the worst practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders will make the middle class stronger? Do they think getting rid of rules to prevent another crisis on Wall Street will make Main Street any safer?

Republicans in Congress need to stop trying to refight the battles of the past few years, and finally start doing something to actually help the middle class get ahead.

And here are three things they can do right now.

First, Congress needs to step up and guarantee that 98% of Americans and 97% of small business owners won’t see their taxes go up next year. This is something that everyone says they agree on. It should have gotten done months ago. But Republicans in Congress are standing in the way. They’re holding tax cuts for 98% of Americans hostage until we pass tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Ask them how that helps the middle class.

Second, Congress needs to step up and provide every responsible homeowner a chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at lower rates. I gave them a plan to do that – back in February. It’s a plan that has the support of independent, nonpartisan economists and leaders across the housing industry. But Republicans won’t even let that plan come to a vote. Ask them how that helps homeowners.

Third, Congress needs to step up and pass my plan to create a veterans jobs corps to help our returning heroes find work as cops, firefighters and park rangers in communities across the country. A few weeks ago, Republicans in the Senate voted that plan down. Ask them why someone who fights for this country abroad should have to fight for a job when they come home.

Ask them to get back to work and get these things done. If we’re going to keep this economy moving forward, there’s no time for political games. Even in a political season. Everyone needs to do their part. If you agree with me, let your Representative know where you stand. Tell them that if they want your vote, then they need to stand with you and not in the way of our recovery.

Thanks and have a great weekend.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Rep. Bob Duchesne (Hudson): Who owns our democracy? Pay to Play Politics Hurts Maine

Posted on October 6, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Audio link here.

Good morning, I’m State Rep. Bob Duchesne of Hudson.

It’s election time, so this morning I have a pressing question for you: Who owns our democracy?

Most of us go into the voting booth to hire our elected leaders with the expectation that they will be working for us – to create jobs, lower our health care costs, improve our schools and support fair taxation policies that don’t hurt middle class families.

We don’t hire them to grow the profit margins of campaign donors, like insurance companies or out of state corporations.

But that’s exactly what’s happened here in Maine during the past two years. Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, an independent, nonpartisan watchdog organization, highlights how the insurance industry bought and paid for a new law that allowed them to increase rates on 90 percent of small businesses across the state and nearly all middle aged Mainers.

More than 1 million dollars was spent on campaign contributions to candidates and political action committees by those in health insurance and health care.

And, Republicans received 84 percent of the contributions from Maine’s largest health insurance company.

So what exactly did the insurance companies get for their money?

Anthem alone will receive $11 million in taxpayer dollars generated by a new tax on all insurance ratepayers to pay part of the law. $11 million is a pretty good return on Anthem’s investment.

Let’s hope somebody kept the receipt. This law backed by Big Insurance already needs major repair. It’s made it harder for small businesses and middle aged Mainers to pay for medicine and health care. The Republican health insurance law stripped key consumer safeguards. It allows Anthem and other insurance companies to charge higher premiums to businesses and individuals based on factors such as geography and age.

If you are a middle aged Mainer, you can now be charged 500 percent more for your health insurance than a younger Mainer.

And, insurance companies can now hike rates up to 10 percent without a public review. Even if you are one of the few who didn’t get hit in the first wave of hikes, how long can that last when insurance companies can now raise rates at will? Who owns our democracy?

It wasn’t just the health insurance laws that were for sale. We saw Republican lawmakers pass laws that siphoned taxpayer dollars from public schools to virtual and charter schools. A Portland Press Herald news investigation shows that those new laws were influenced by out of state corporate campaign donors that would stand to profit from running such schools in Maine.

This kind of pay to play politics will hurt our families, our small businesses and our schools.

In Maine we like to think we are immune to the kind of pay to play politics we see in Washington and other states.

Now we see: we’re not. This is the wrong direction for Maine. We need leaders who will put people – not special interests first.

Thank you for listening, and thank you for caring. Our democracy is not for sale.

I’m State Representative Bob Duchesne of Hudson.

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Maine Needs to Reduce Foreign Oil Dependency, Look at Clean Energy Sources

Posted on October 6, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Audio link here.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

This week heating oil increased by about 10 cents compared to this time last month. At nearly 3 dollars and seventy cents per gallon, many Mainers will experience another tough winter season trying to make ends meet.

As your Governor, I do not want to see anyone left out in the cold. The price of energy is on the rise and it is time elected officials be willing to address the issue both in Augusta and Washington, D.C. Politics should not play a role in heating your home, but it does.

Reducing Maine’s dependency on foreign oil is part of the solution. Every year we use 1.6 billion gallons of petroleum fuels which include oil, propane, diesel, gasoline and kerosene.

While energy efficiency is an important means of reducing energy costs, the greater utilization of more cost effective non-foreign oil sources will be essential to achieve our goal.

Through modest energy reforms, our Administration recognizes clean energy producers like biomass, thermal, and hydro as viable renewable sources. We can ensure all clean energy sources are treated fairly in the market so that costs go down, businesses can flourish, and Mainers have more money in their pockets.

The challenge is, however, that for years, the status quo has been that special interests here in Maine and Capitol Hill dictate which energy sources Mainers pay for and which ones are discriminated against – with no regard to the ratepayer.

Unfortunately, Maine’s renewable energy mandate will raise electricity prices by $145 million and cost Mainers nearly 1000 jobs. It is because Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, often referred to as RPS, requires that some of the state’s electricity be generated by expensive “renewable” sources, like wind power and solar. The problem I have with this methodology is other green energy sources like hydropower are left out of the mix. Hydropower is clean and readily available in Maine. More importantly, it is inexpensive and can save Mainers a lot of money.

A recent report from the Maine Heritage Policy Center and Beacon Hill Institute affirms that Maine’s RPS will raise electricity prices by 8 percent in the next five years. This mandate is an economic barrier that we simply cannot afford; it is hurting Maine families and businesses.

Homeowners will pay $85 more per year on their electricity bill and business will pay more than $600 annually, according to the study. Industrial users will suffer the most taking on more than $14 thousand per year because of the mandate. We are losing business opportunities because of our high energy costs.

So how did this come to fruition? Maine’s first RPS law was established in 1999 under the King Administration. It’s unfortunate that some politicians after leaving office benefitted financially from those policies. Working the system to pad your pockets does not represent Maine values.

President Obama has supported this government welfare by spending $90 billion on programs and policies to green energy projects and failed companies. As Governor Mitt Romney pointed out during this week’s debate, this is billions of dollars that the president should have spent on other reliable energy sources or to support our teachers.

At the height of the presidential election campaign and with critical congressional and state legislative seats up for grab, Mainers must demand honesty and learn more about the people vying for votes.

The media is not looking out for your best interest, so it is up to each individual to do their homework on the issues. Do not be afraid to ask candidate’s tough questions when they knock at your door. And when they assume office, we must hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.

Too many failed policies have affected where we are today, and we cannot afford to continue on this path with so much on the line.

Thank you.

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