Archive for October 27th, 2012

Weekly Address: Protecting the American People with New Wall Street Reforms

Posted on October 27, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

(From 10/27/12)

Hi, everybody. It’s now been four years since a crisis that began on Wall Street spread to Main Street, hammering middle-class families and ultimately costing our economy 9 million jobs.

Since then, we’ve fought our way back. Our businesses have added more than 5 million new jobs. The unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level since I took office. Home values are rising again. And our assembly lines are humming once more.

And to make sure America never goes through a crisis like that again, we passed tough new Wall Street reform to end taxpayer-funded bailouts for good.

Wall Street reform also created the first-ever independent consumer watchdog, whose sole job is to look out for you.

That means making sure you’ve got all the information you need to make important financial decisions like buying a home or paying for college. And it means going after anyone who tries to take advantage of you, or rip you off.

Starting this month, that includes the folks who come up with your credit score.

If you haven’t checked out your credit score recently, you should. It can have a major impact on your life. It can determine whether or not you qualify for a loan or what kind of interest you have to pay. It can even affect your chances at renting an apartment or getting a job.

But here’s the thing: the companies that put your credit score together can make mistakes. They may think you had a loan or a credit card that was never yours. They may think you were late making payments when you were on time. And when they mess up, you’re the one who suffers.

Until this week, if you had a complaint, you took it to the company. Sometimes they listened. Sometimes they didn’t. But that was pretty much it. They were your only real hope.

Not anymore. If you have a complaint about your credit score that hasn’t been properly addressed, you can go to consumerfinance.gov/complaint and let the consumer watchdog know.

Not only will they bring your complaint directly to the company in question, they’ll give you a tracking number, so you can check back and see exactly what’s being done on your behalf.

And fixing your credit score isn’t the only thing they can help with.

If you’re opening a bank account, trying to get a student loan, or applying for a credit card and something doesn’t seem right, you can let them know and they’ll check it out.

If you’re looking to buy a home, and you want to know if you’re getting a fair deal on your mortgage, you can give them a call and they’ll get you an answer.

Their only mission is to fight for you. And when needed, they’ll take action.

For example, alongside other regulators, they recently ordered three big credit card companies to return more than $400 million to folks who were deceived or misled into buying things they didn’t want or didn’t understand.

That’s what Wall Street reform is all about – looking out for working families and making sure that everyone is playing by the same rules.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been enough to stop Republicans in Congress from fighting these reforms. Backed by an army of financial industry lobbyists, they’ve been waging an all-out battle to delay, defund and dismantle these new rules.

I refuse to let that happen.

I believe that the free market is one of the greatest forces for progress in human history, and that the true engine of job creation in this country is the private sector, not the government.

But I also believe that the free market has never been about taking whatever you want, however you can get it. Alongside our innovative spirit, America only prospers when we meet certain obligations to one another, and when we all play by the same set of rules.

We’ve come too far – and sacrificed too much – to go back to an era of top-down, on-your-own economics. And as long as I’m President, we’re going to keep moving this country forward so that everyone – whether you start a business or punch a clock – can have confidence that if you work hard, you can get ahead.

Thanks and have a great weekend.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Sen. Chris Johnson (Lincoln): GOP tax policies push costs onto towns, ask taxpayers to foot the bill

Posted on October 27, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Audio link here.

Good Morning. This is State Senator Chris Johnson of Somerville.

When I was growing up my family watched the Wizard of OZ every year. Do you remember the scene in which the curtain is pulled aside revealing the real identity of the wizard, a man with no real wizardry, saying “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”? Well I have to tell you the curtain has been pulled aside again, this time on the economic policies and priorities of the current administration, and the GOP-led legislature.

The truth is that many Maine people are worse off, not better, and paying more for less. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Earlier this month the independent, nonpartisan organization, Maine Center for Economic Policy, released a report analyzing the tax policies and priorities of the last legislature.

Here’s what they found:

Two hundred and seventy thousand Mainers earning $42,000 or less are paying more in taxes.

The wealthiest one percent, earning more than $323,000 a year, are paying a lot less.

And our towns are forced to slash critical town services—letting our local roads crumble, closing or cutting hours at our libraries, or laying off teachers and first responders.

The problem with this slash and burn approach is that, at the end of the day, we are hurting our community. We can all agree to making government more efficient and frugal, but at some point, regardless of how much cutting you do, there is a baseline cost for keeping the lights on and the doors open.

There is a cause and effect to the Republican priority of giving tax breaks to the wealthy; pushing costs onto our towns and asking the local taxpayer to foot the bill.

They’ve created false choices—one where towns are being forced to deplete reserves, cut services, or raise property taxes. It is unfair and not sustainable.

Frankly, the conclusions of this report are not surprising. It confirms what many of us have been feeling across the state, that property taxes are increasing. Towns and taxpayers are feeling the financial squeeze like never before. We are being asked to do more with less—often with so much less, that essential services like police, fire, and rescue are on life support.

I have seen this first hand with the hard choices many of the towns in my district are faced with. Take Damariscotta. Because of the cost shift, they have proposed eliminating the police department in order to save the town money it lost in state revenue sharing. Many residents and local businesses are concerned about what this may mean for their public safety—and rightly so, especially when they have clearly stated their willingness to pay more in property taxes to keep the local police department on duty. Without the cuts from the state, Damariscotta could keep its police department and not pass along a property tax increase.

Other towns have been forced to make similar choices. Just ask Waterville Mayor Karen Heck who had to shed 14 employees as a result of less state revenue coming to her city.

It all comes down to decisions made at the state level. Governor LePage and many legislative Republicans came into office with the promise of cutting taxes, creating more jobs, and getting our economy back on track. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened. While tax cuts have been made–for some–they’ve led to property tax increases for nearly everyone. When cost shifts are ignored by policymakers in Augusta, they are turning their backs on a hard reality faced daily by Maine people. It turns into a State vs. Town game of whack-a-mole.

Since they took over, we have lost more than 2,300 jobs and we still rank at the bottom of the list for personal income growth. Their solutions for fixing Maine’s economy are in fact leaving behind middle class families, and those trying hard to stay in the middle class.

We need economic policies that encourage and prioritize investments for the very things we know will work, like investing in education, R&D, our roads, bridges and high-speed Internet. We need to encourage job growth by making sure our workforce is trained and ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow. And we also need a realistic tax program considering state and local taxes, that is fair and makes sense.

It is time to pay attention to what’s behind the curtain. It’s time to be realistic, and rely on what our own hearts, brains, and bravery tell us, not trickle-down magic.

This is State Senator Chris Johnson of Somerville. Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: “American Patriot”

Posted on October 27, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Audio link here.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

Those who know me know I enjoy reading history – presidential biographies are my favorites. Recently, I spent a few evenings with Bill O’Reilly’s book “Killing Lincoln.” I have read many books on President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination; however, O’Reilly captures this American tragedy, as no other author has. It really is a thrilling read and I recommend the book.

I think there is a lot to be learned from history and I like to think the mistakes and mishaps of the past will not be repeated. But I am not sure this is the case.

For 236 years our constitution has tried to uphold our Founding Fathers intent – to protect Americans rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What I am sure our Founding Fathers did not have in mind is the type of dishonest campaign that those who wish to lead our country and state – both incumbents and challengers – are undertaking.

It’s been called by some, “the mean season.” Don’t get me wrong, our past doesn’t demonstrate that we all have been nice during election season. During the 1864 race, General George McClellan mocked President Lincoln as a “baboon.” The president was also called “two-faced” to which he replied, “If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?” Humor aside that was in the middle of the Civil War.

Now, we are in the midst of a different kind of war. Words are the arsenal and they have a potentially devastating consequence to a campaign.

A recent attack ad against State Senate president Kevin Raye who is running against U.S. Representative Mike Michaud falsely claims that Raye spent $20-thousand dollars on a new kitchen at the State House. Even the Portland Press Herald came out in its so-called “truth test” report saying this was a “whopper” of a lie.

There is a difference between calling people names and lying.

The fact is this; we cannot rely on the media to tell us how to vote. While negative ads appear effective I think candidates and PACs are at fault for, at best being deceptive, at worst outright lying, which is not good for Maine or the country.

We have two basic political philosophies – liberal and conservative – but regardless of our views, we must learn to debate the issues with civility and integrity. As Americans, we all want our nation to be strong. And strength is found within its people.

Right now, I’m reading “The American Patriot’s Almanac.” The book shares notable moments and people in our history.

In 1917, Martin Treptow enlisted in the Army to fight in World War I. In his diary he wrote, “The crisis we are facing today…requires our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God’s help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. And, after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.”

Treptow was killed on the battlefield.

Pat Tillman was a pro football player. In 2000, he set a team record for number of tackles. But after 9/11 he traded his $3 million dollar salary to serve his country. Unfortunately, he was killed in Afghanistan in 2004. As one of Tillman’s coaches said, “The spirit of Pat Tillman is the heart of this country.”

These brave men remind us during this campaign season that we are one nation, and one people. Honesty, integrity and civility are their due for the ultimate sacrifice they and so many other Americans have made. We must never forget, before we are Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans.

Thank you for listening.

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