Archive for October, 2014
President Barack Obama came to the Portland Expo to campaign with Democratic nominee for governor U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud on Oct. 30 to kick-off the Maine Democratic Party’s get out the vote efforts just days before Election Day.
He was joined by Senator George J. Mitchell.
Other speakers included Rep. Chellie Pingree, US Senate candidate Shenna Bellows, Maine Democratic Party chair Ben Grant and Portland Mayor Michael Brennan.
Here are videos of the entire rally in order of speakers.
Link here to photo album.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Rally of over 1400 supporters held 10/24/14 at Scarborough High School. Order of speakers:
1. State Senator Jim Boyle of Gorham
2. US Senate candidate Shenna Bellows
3. ME-02 2CD candidate State Senator Emily Cain
4. Congressman Chellie Pingree, 1CD
5. Former Obama admin/ SBA head Karen Mills of Brunswick
6. Gubernatorial candidate Congressman Mike Michaud
7. Former First Lady/ Secretary of State/ Potential 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton
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(ICYMI) LePage: Social Security, Medicare “Welfare, Pure And Simple”- “Oh Hey Wait, I didn’t say THAT!”
(Originally posted 6/26/14.)
UPDATE: Seems others also thought LePage’s approach to the mess of his own making rather odd (PPH’s Bill Nemitz: “LePage blames messenger for his own message on Social Security”). And rather inevitably, the governor’s gaffe went national (Salon: Gov. Paul LePage on Social Security: “It is welfare, pure and simple”).So much for the Governor’s newly announced campaign staff additions, including spokesman/ former House Minority Whip Rep. Alex Willette, coming out of the blocks and hitting the ground running- Days 1 and 2 appear to be P.R. fiascos!
An interesting past few days with much back and forth discussion between Maine Governor Paul LePage, Democratic gubernatorial rival Rep. Mike Michaud and now Portland Press Herald- let’s review the “who said what and when”.
First, Paul LePage’s office sent out a press release early yesterday morning, designed to discuss the latest BEA reports of Maine’s personal income growth as dead last when compared to the rest of the New England states and 39th when stacked against those of the entire country, which in part read:
- The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) claims the other five New England states saw higher personal income growth than Maine, but that growth was driven by an increase in welfare benefits, especially in the form of Medicaid expansion. The BEA conceals welfare benefits by calling them “Personal Current Transfer Receipts.”
These “Transfer Receipts” include: Social Security benefits; Medicare payments; Medicaid; and state unemployment insurance benefits.
In addition to counting welfare benefits as personal income, the BEA includes another category called “all other personal current transfer receipts.” These are the health insurance premium subsidies paid as tax credits to enrollees of the Obamacare exchanges.
“It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple,” said Governor LePage.
“Liberals from the White House all the way down to Democratic leadership in Augusta believe that redistribution of wealth—taking money from hard-working taxpayers and giving it to a growing number of welfare recipients—is personal income. It’s not. It’s just more welfare expansion. Democrats can obfuscate the numbers any way they want. The fact is that we have created thousands of jobs, more Mainers are working, and their income is going up.”
Democratic rival Mike Michaud quickly responded:
- “LePage’s comments are an insult to Maine seniors who have worked long and hard to earn their Social Security and Medicare benefits,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic nominee for governor. “These two programs have helped to provide a secure retirement to thousands upon thousands of hardworking men and women who have earned them one paycheck at a time. They deserve much better than to have their monthly Social Security checks called ‘welfare handouts.’ The governor should be embarrassed that he ever suggested such a thing.”
The campaign started an online petition (Tell LePage: Social Security & Medicare are NOT welfare handouts!) where thousands signed up in less than 24 hours.
Then the Portland Press Herald had the audacity to report what the governor said– verbatum:
- Gov. Paul LePage has long cast a wide net for programs that he says fit the definition of welfare. On Wednesday, in a media release written as an alternative take on new personal-income data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, he lumped Social Security and Medicare into that definition.
The federal data released Tuesday put Maine’s personal-income growth at 0.5 percent in the first three months of 2014, which ranked 39th nationally, last in New England and well below the national rate of 0.8 percent.
LePage, however, said in the media release that Maine’s net personal earnings increased by 0.8 percent, in line with other New England states and slightly higher than the national rate of net personal earnings, 0.7 percent.
The governor arrived at his number by excluding what the federal bureau calls “personal current transfer receipts” and dividends, interest and rental income.
In other words, LePage changed the rules- his team inexplicably fudged the numbers to reflect a conclusion that falsely makes the administration look better than reality. What his office with their pretzel mathematics failed to do was crunch the other 49 states’ numbers similarly for a more standardized, accurate comparison with the national figures and conclusions. And the reason they can NOT do that is quite simple.
The other New England states have expanded Medicaid, seen much better economic growth than Maine- the sole holdout in New England- and because of his own refusal to allow for coverage of 70,000 additional Mainers and creation of tens of thousands of jobs across the state, Paul LePage thinks that the numbers as provided by BEA are unfair.
It would be as if 50 horses were lined up at Scarborough Downs, but one arbitrarily was given a 30 second head start rest of the field. That’s what LePage’s “new math” accomplished- and he very rightfully got called out for it by Michaud.
But back to Portland Press Herald’s involvement, with a reminder that just last year the governor in a fighter jet simulator photo op in Berwick “joked” about wanting to blow up the PPH and BDN buildings. This morning, LePage issued another press release, taking PPH to task… for reporting exactly what the governor said in his earlier release:
- Governor Paul R. LePage issued the following statement today with regard to erroneous interpretations from the Portland Press Herald of his Medicaid expansion-related comments:
“I don’t think Social Security or Medicare is welfare. Only the most liberal interpretation of my statements about Medicaid expansion would twist my words to include Social Security and Medicare. Welfare expansion is not a reliable, nor is it a sustainable income source for personal growth income earnings.
While my opponents are fighting for welfare expansion, my Administration is committed to preserve funding and resources for Maine’s elderly. Some seniors may be forced out of their homes because of financial troubles within Maine’s nursing homes and it is why I have pushed so hard to adequately fund those facilities.”
Side note: The administration may claim to have been trying to help those elderly Mainers in struggling nursing homes, but the reality is a far different matter.
Michaud and his staff once again responded:
- Gov. Paul LePage earned the ire of seniors and the people who support them this week when he inappropriately referred to Social Security and Medicare as “welfare” in a press release intended to obscure his poor performance in improving Maine’s economy.
- Veterans benefits (including pensions and life insurance)
- Compensation for victims of September 11
- Compensation for survivors of public safety officers
- Compensation for victims of crime
- Unemployment insurance
- Railroad retirements
- Black lung benefits
- Military insurance benefits
- Fellowships for outstanding science students
- Assistance to cadets a maritime academies
- Pell Grants
- Job Corps
- Payment of anti-terrorism judgments
In just 24 hours, thousands of people have signed an online petition telling LePage that Social Security and Medicare are earned, one paycheck at a time through a lifetime of work.
But now, as the governor tries to back away from his latest embarrassment, questions remain about exactly what LePage thinks “welfare” is.
In the past he has called municipal revenue sharing welfare. In addition, in his press release he referred to all “Personal Current Transfer Receipts” as welfare, which would include — in addition to Social Security and Medicare – many other programs, such as:
LePage, in his own words: “It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple.”
“The governor’s disdain for Maine families is clear in his attitudes, in his policies and in his words. According to his press release, not only are Social Security and Medicare now welfare but veterans’ benefits and compensation for 9/11 victims are too. Where does he draw the line?” said Lizzy Reinholt, a spokesperson for U.S. Congressman Mike Michaud’s gubernatorial campaign. “The governor would like to hide his own dismal performance by pointing his finger at other people, blaming them for Maine’s sluggish economy. His actions and his words are holding Maine back.”
“Social Security is not welfare. Medicare is not welfare. Veterans benefits are not welfare,” Reinholt said. “Like many of the programs that the governor holds in disdain, they are part of the fabric that helps to hold our communities together.”
- Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement Thursday that he doesn’t think Social Security or Medicare are welfare and he criticized the Portland Press Herald for making an “erroneous interpretation” of a prior press release from his office.
“Only the most liberal interpretation of my statements about Medicaid expansion would twist my words to include Social Security and Medicare,” he said in Thursday’s statement. “Welfare expansion is not a reliable, nor is it a sustainable income source for personal growth income earnings.”
The statement differs significantly from a press release LePage’s office issued Wednesday in response to a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report that found Maine’s personal income growth was below the national average and last in New England.
To be updated as needed…Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
ICYMI/UPDATED: Is LePage’s “Outrage” A Politicized Continuation of Ongoing General Assistance/ Immigrant Battle?
Late today Maine Governor Paul LePage issued the following press release, regarding “swirling rumors” of “a large number of Unaccompanied Alien Children”. As such, the July write up is being revised and brought up to the top, as within are links that should assuage the Administration’s concerns.
The “rumors” are addressed in a Lewiston Sun Journal story published earlier Wednesday (“Poland selectmen hear of plan to house immigrant children at former Elan School”). That story was later updated (“Government officials deny plan to house immigrant children in Poland”).
- Theresa Allocca of Poland has told the town that she is working with federal officials and with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ office to bring the children to Poland, where they will be housed and educated at a private school funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
At Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting in Poland, Town Manager Bradley Plante read a statement announcing that federal officials plan to house 120 immigrant children at the former school, and that the project was being coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
After seeing the Sun Journal report, Kevin Kelley, communications director for Collins, said, “We’re not working with (Allocca) to make this happen,” nor is FEMA.
“There is no orphanage and the federal government is not sending illegal immigrant children to it,” Kelley said.
And, spokespeople for the Maine Emergency Management Agency and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services also denied that such a proposal is under consideration by their agencies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also denied any plan to place immigrant children in Poland.
It should be noted that, at NO time in the past 3 1/2 years, has Paul LePage nor Mary Mayhew ever spoken a word regarding the immunization statuses of Maine children, let alone in regards to non-immunized children posing a greater health risk to our state’s citizens.
- Statement of Governor LePage on Unaccompanied Alien Children
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage released today the following statement with regard to Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) who may be placed in Poland, Maine:
- “Rumors have been swirling about whether a large number of Unaccompanied Alien Children may be placed at the former Elan School campus in Poland, Maine. Despite efforts by our administration, these rumors have not been substantiated by the federal government. As recently as last week, Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, sent an inquiry to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seeking information on whether such plans are in the works. So far, we have not received a response or further information from the federal government. The Administration remains opposed to the placement of these children within Maine.”
“While we are very concerned for the health and safety of the children, we hope the federal government provides funding and an appropriate home for them if this plan is real and comes to fruition. However, since we have no idea who would pay these costs or if there is any health risk to Maine people, we cannot support them coming to Maine. The state has received no formalized plans or information about this alleged plan. As a result, the administration has no assurance from the federal government of the health status of the children or whether they have had proper immunizations, nor have we had any assurance that the federal government would pay for their health care, education, general welfare or safety.”
(Originally posted 23 July 2014)
UPDATE #2: PPH reporting that the eight children, staying with local families came to Maine between January and June of this year. DHHS spokesman John Martins: “No one but Office of Refugee Resettlement at the federal level knows who these children are, where there are, or how placement was arranged.”
UPDATE: Some statistical information on the children coming across the border via Mother Jones:
- Little kids, including a troubling number of children age five or younger, make up the fastest-growing group of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the US border in fiscal year 2014. So far this year, nearly 7,500 kids under 13 have been caught without a legal guardian—and 785 of them were younger than six.
It’s still mostly teens who travel solo to the United States from countries like El Salvador and Honduras, as the Pew Research Center revealed today in a new analysis of US Customs and Border Protection data. But compared to 2013, Border Patrol apprehensions of kids 12 or younger already have increased 117 percent, while those of teens have jumped only 12 percent. Apprehensions of the youngest group of kids, those under six, have nearly tripled.
One would think it was an election year… oh right.
Yesterday during a conference call with the White House, Maine Governor Paul LePage was informed that eight undocumented children, as part of the federal government’s Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program, had recently been placed in the state without his knowledge:
- “I only learned that children have been placed in Maine after I asked the question. No one from the federal government had informed me or the Governor’s Office that Unaccompanied Alien Children were coming to Maine. The White House officials did not provide any further information, and questions by other governors about how to handle Unaccompanied Alien Children went unanswered.”
“Our nation was founded by immigrants who came to this country in search of a better life. Our nation and our state still welcomes legal immigrants who want to work hard and help Maine prosper. However, we cannot afford to spend our limited resources on those who come here illegally.”
“Maine people are generous. Many of us who can afford to give a little do so through our churches or charities to help the less fortunate. Our state government is here to help those who need a temporary hand up or our most vulnerable residents, such as the elderly and disabled who cannot care for themselves. But it is wrong for the federal government to force a higher burden on the people of Maine to pay for those who come to our country illegally, especially when the government secretly places illegal aliens in our state without our knowledge.”
Bangor Daily News provides more information for context:
- The process that likely put the children in Maine predates LePage’s tenure in office as well as President Barack Obama’s: Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has taken custody and care of “unaccompanied alien children.” The department makes efforts to release the child to a relative in the United States while he or she is processed by immigration officials — a process that can take up to two years.
So Paul LePage is either very wrong or so deliberately misleading on this point to score cheap points with his base that it would be comical, if it weren’t so blatant as to his intent. Because make no mistake about it, he is engaging in both remarkable hypocrisy on a variety of levels and politicizing these children by combining them with his ongoing attacks on General Assistance (GA), which is already forcing Maine communities to either take his side or that of Attorney General Janet Mills.
Weigh the evidence.
1. The federal government isn’t “forc(ing) a higher burden on the people of Maine to pay” at all- $868 million was appropriated for the programs for FY14. And the “churches and charities” that LePage referenced in his press release yesterday are among those working with HHS to provide foster care for these children.
- “Illegal aliens who choose to live in Maine are not our most vulnerable citizens. We need to take care of Mainers first.
During my first few days in office in 2011, I issued an Executive Order to repeal Maine’s status as a sanctuary state. In 2004 Democratic leadership banned state officials from asking people about their legal status when they requested benefits. My order rescinded that policy.
Also in 2011, the State eliminated state welfare benefits for illegal immigrants.
Last week, we took the next step. We told Maine towns and cities they will no longer get state funding to give to illegal aliens.
Federal law prohibits states from providing General Assistance to illegal immigrants. This law was enacted in 1996, when President Clinton and the Republican Congress approved sweeping welfare reforms.”
But we have had a few Presidents since 1996 and one of them, George W. Bush, not only signed a critically important bill into law (2000) but also the reauthorization of same (2008), as mentioned in the BDN. More via Think Progress:
- Under a 2002 human trafficking law signed by former President George Bush and reauthorized again in 2008 with additional protections, Mexican unaccompanied children apprehended crossing the border are automatically returned without formal deportation proceedings because the two countries share a border. But unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala cannot be sent back without going through the deportation process, since that law ensured that America wouldn’t send kids back to a dangerous situation. (Honduras, for example, has experiences increased gang violence in 40 percent of its territory, while violence against females is surging in Guatemala.)
Authorities must instead process these children and determine whether they have credible proof that they cannot return to their countries of origin. Central American children are given basic care like medical screenings in processing centers before being placed with relatives or foster care until they can appear in front of immigration judges.
3. Here’s where the politicizing of not just the plight of these eight children, but the wider discussion of general assistance for all undocumented people in Maine gets personal from Paul LePage, on a multi-generational level.
- The oldest son of eighteen children in an impoverished, dysfunctional family, Governor LePage left home at the age of eleven to escape domestic violence and lived on the streets of Lewiston for two years, making a meager living shining shoes. At age thirteen, two families jointly “adopted” Governor LePage. Eddy and Pauline Collins kept him busy washing dishes at the Theriault’s Cafe. Bruce and Joan Myrick kept him busy hauling boxes. Bruce was a Pepsi-Cola truck driver. Later the Governor worked at the Antoine Rubber Company and at a meat packing company.
While attending Husson, he supported himself as a short order cook and bartender, while making time to be the editor of the college newspaper. Getting into Husson presented a challenge in itself. Governor LePage was brought up speaking French. With the help of U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe’s first husband, Peter, he was able to take an admissions exam in French to demonstrate his strong comprehension abilities and earn admittance.
- “His father, a 24-year-old mill worker, was the son of immigrants from Saint Jean de Dieu, a small Quebec farming village 70 miles north of Madawaska, who then lived in a modest three-bedroom cape on a small grassy lot at 759 Lisbon Street. A Quebec genealogist recently revealed Gerard to have been one of the fifth-great-grandsons of Rene LePage de Saint Claire, first lord of Rimouski, Quebec, but his branch of the family had inherited neither wealth nor privilege. Gerard’s father, a printer, had emigrated to Lewiston in 1919, married a local girl, and raised nine children. Gov. LePage has said his father had only a third grade education.”
Joseph LePage was in Lewiston and listed a resident of that city, per his 1917 World War registration card. He was not, as the card shows, an American citizen but rather listed as “Alien”. His service record via Ancestry.com reads:
- Name: Joseph Lepage
Serial Number: 388757
Birth Place: St. Jean, Quebec, Canada
Birth Date: 09 Jul 1887
Comment: Ind: Lewiston, Androscoggin Co., LB No. 1, May 31/18. Pvt; Pvt 1st cl Apr. 12/19. Org: Btry B 7 Bn to July 13/18; Btry 16 FA to disch. Eng: Meuse Argonne. Overseas: Sept. 1/18 to July 29/19. Hon disch on demob: Aug. 6, 1919.
After he concluded his overseas service in the military, Joseph petitioned for naturalization with some of his fellow soldiers as witnesses and on August 5, 1919, was finally granted status as an American citizen.
So Paul LePage’s own grandfather was able to come into America, work here, enlist to be a soldier, serve in that capacity even though he was not legally an American, and only became a citizen after the conclusion of his service and with the assistance of his fellow soldiers.Got it.
But here’s where Paul LePage’s false outrage over unaccompanied children entering Maine gets really ugly, because not only was his life possibly saved due to the kindness of others, but he and his own family themselves helped and supported arguably an “Unaccompanied Alien Child” years ago- an act of generosity that should be a model for others to look up to and emulate.
In January 2011, Governor LePage refused to attend multiple traditional Martin Luther King Day events, telling reporters to tell NAACP to “kiss his butt”(VIDEO):
- LePage: “They (NAACP) are a special interest. End of story. And I’m not going to be held hostage by special interests. And if they want, they can look at my family picture. My son happens to be black, so they can do whatever they’d like about it.”
Reporter: “And what is your response to them saying that this is more just this one instance but rather a pattern?”
LePage: “Tell `em to kiss my butt. (giggles) Ahh, I got Dan all upset. You know, this is not about – you know, if they want me to play the race card, come to dinner and my son will talk to them.“
But there’s the thing- he wasn’t, and isn’t, the LePages’ son, but rather what Governor LePage would call an “Unaccompanied Alien Child”.
Was then Governor Angus King informed of the boy’s arrival in Waterville?
Unlike Paul LePage and the eight children, there was no immediate danger whatsoever present (“Jamaican joined LePage household as a teen”)
- Devon Raymond Jr. came to live with Gov. Paul LePage’s family in August 2002 with nothing but a suitcase, some golfing gear, ill-fitting shoes and a Bible, according to the governor’s office. The LePages met Raymond in Jamaica through his father, who caddied for Paul LePage during an island vacation, according to Demeritt. Raymond is not a U.S. citizen, nor has he yet been formally adopted by the LePages.
Raymond moved to Waterville and graduated in 2003 from Waterville High School, where he played on the school’s golf team. He attended Husson University — LePage’s alma mater — for a year and a half, playing golf and studying sports management.
In his biography on the social networking site Twitter, Raymond describes himself as “chasing the dreams of being a PGA pro.” “My dreams are my motivation,” he wrote. In 2005, he wrote on a Jamaican social networking site that he had moved to the United States to “finish high school and get a college education” and also pursue a golf career.
LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt even went on-air and was questioned by WGAN’s Ken Altshuler over the governor’s claim that he has an adopted black son:
- “Why add layers of lies and deceit to a very simple story?” Altshuler asked of the governor’s comments.
“First of all, I reject your characterization that Devon is not the son of Paul LePage,” Demeritt said.
“He’s not his adopted son!” said Altshuler, who is a lawyer.
“He’s absolutely his son,” Demeritt said. “Paul LePage and Ann LePage have made Devon a part of their family.” While the adoption paperwork has never been filed, Demeritt said LePage is like a father to Devon Raymond Jr.
So we ask: Who is Paul LePage to question not just long established federal immigration law and specific procedures actively being implemented, but the immediate safety concerns for these eight children in need?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
(UPDATE W/ VIDEO, AUDIO LINKS) Maine Gubernatorial “Eggs & Issues” Debate (Storify/ Selected Tweets)
As this morning’s gubernatorial debate was not live-streamed, collecting the tweets was deemed the best alternative. Link here:
Tweets from the first debate between incumbent Gov. Paul LePage (R), Congressman Mike Michaud (D) and Eliot Cutler (I). Hosted by Portland Chamber at Commerce.
Portland Press Herald posted on Facebook soon afterwards their intentions to share video of the debate later on today. Here is a link to their clip.
Audio of debate, via MPBN.
Maine Democratic Party shared this clip:
REMARKS BY FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AT MICHAUD FOR GOVERNOR RALLY
MRS. OBAMA: Hey, Maine! Oh my goodness, thank you guys! Thanks so much. Wow, you guys are really fired up and I love it!
I am so thrilled to be back in Maine — I just wish I could stay longer. But let me start by thanking our friend, the next governor of Maine, Mike Michaud.
I don’t know about you, but — I don’t know why you’re here but I’m here for Mike. I’m here for Mike. And just listening to him backstage, he is a decent man. He is an honest man. He is a hard-working man. And I am very proud to be here in support of him. Mike understands what families here in Maine are going through — he knows. And as you all know, the entire time he was serving in your state legislature, he was working on the mill floor at the Great Northern Paper Company. He worked there for more than 29 years.
So when it comes to creating jobs and making sure folks get a decent paycheck for their work, Mike understands what’s at stake in people’s lives. And Mike doesn’t get caught up in partisanship or politics. He was unanimously elected president of the Maine Senate by 17 Democrats, 17 Republicans and one independent. And he worked hard to bring those folks together to do great things for this state like raise the minimum wage, and cut taxes for small businesses, and so much more.
And Mike brought that same spirit to Congress — working across the aisle to improve benefits for our veterans, and promote clean energy, and make sure our military uniforms are 100 percent made here in the U.S., including right here in Maine.
So whether it’s strengthening the economy, or expanding access to health care, or ensuring that women get equal pay for equal work, Mike will wake up, as he said, every day ready to fight for hard-working families. And so, once again, I’m so proud to be here on his behalf and I think you all for being here to support him as well.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!
MRS. OBAMA: I love you, too.
I also want to recognize Senator Emily Cain. Yes, Emily. And Emily’s mom. Emily has led the charge in your state legislature for economic development and better schools and more affordable health care, and I know that she will be an outstanding Congresswoman for the people of the 2nd district, so be sure to vote for Emily along with Mike on November the 4th. Yay, Emily!
And I also want to give a big hello to Cecile Richards who has been such a strong, passionate advocate for women and families across this country — and I’m thrilled — it was a pleasure, I know for all of you, to hear from her today.
And thanks also — I’ve got a lot of people to thank here in Maine. You guys have made my visit so special, I want to thank the president of this university, Susan Hunter, for her outstanding leadership and for hosting us here today.
But most of all, I want to thank you guys, I really do. Yes, I see so many wonderful faces — folks who have been with us from the beginning, folks who are new to this whole endeavor. I remember some of you were with us back when we were out in Iowa and New Hampshire, talking about hope and change and getting all fired up and ready to go — remember that? Yes!
And then you all were with us when Barack first took office. And he had a moment to step back and take a good look at the mess he had been handed. And wondered what on Earth he’d gotten himself into.
But let’s go back for a moment, because I want you to remember how bad things were back then — because it’s easy to forget, particularly for the young people because you all were young, you weren’t paying attention.
But when Barack first stepped into office, this country was in full-blown crisis mode. Our economy was literally on the brink of collapse. If you can imagine, Wall Street banks were folding. Businesses were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Folks on TV on the news were panicking about whether we were headed for another Great Depression –- and that wasn’t just talk, that was a real possibility. And there was more — that was just domestically. But that’s just some of what Barack walked into on day one as President.
Now, I want to bring you to today. And I want you to look at where we are less than six years later. By almost every economic measure, we are better off today than when Barack took office. And here is why. Our businesses have created more than 10 million new jobs since 2010. And that’s including the 236,000 jobs created just last month. This is the longest uninterrupted run of private-sector job growth in our nation’s history. You understand that? In the history of this nation.
The unemployment rate has dropped from a peak of 10 percent back in 2009 to 5.9 percent today. (Applause.) And right now — and this is important for our young people — right now, more job openings are available than at any time since 2001.
Last year, the number of children living in poverty decreased by 1.4 million –- that is the largest drop since 1966. And today, our high school graduation rate is at a record high. More of our young people are graduating from college than ever before. And as you know, because of the Affordable Care Act, health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in nearly 50 years, and millions more Americans finally have health insurance.
And just think about how different our country looks to children growing up today. Think about how our kids take for granted that a black person or a woman can be President of the United States. (Applause.) They take for granted that their President will end hurtful policies like don’t ask, don’t tell and will speak out for equality for all Americans.
This is the kind of change that can happen when we elect leaders who share our values and who listen to our voices. And that’s what this election is all about. It’s about whether we’re going to elect leaders who will fight for our families and for the kind of world we want to leave for our kids and grand kids.
That’s the kind of leadership people here in Maine deserve. And that’s why we need to elect Mike Michaud as governor of this state. Mike — we need him. And that’s why I’m here.
See, Mike, he understands that there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our children — nothing. We always put our kids’ interests first. We wake up every morning and go to bed every night thinking and worrying about their health, their happiness, their futures. Yes, young people, you drive us nuts.
So we deserve leaders like Mike who believe that no matter how our kids start out in life, if they’re willing to work for it, they should have every opportunity to fulfill their boundless promise and they should have every opportunity to get a good education, build a decent life for themselves and a better life for their own kids. That’s the American Dream we all believe in. And that’s what this election here in Maine is all about.
Now, it’s true that there is too much money in politics. And, yes, it’s true that — it’s true that special interests have too much influence. But here is what I want you to remember: They had plenty of money and influence back in 2008 and 2012, and we still won those elections.
I want you to understand the power that all of you have. You want to know why we won? Because we showed up and we voted. And at the end of the day, the folks running those special interest groups, the folks who poured millions of dollars into those elections –- they each have just one vote, just like we do.
And ultimately, the only thing that counts are those votes. That’s what decides elections in the United States of , and that’s why Barack Obama is President right now. He is President because a whole bunch of folks who never voted before showed up to vote in 2008 and 2012. And a lot of people were shocked when Barack won because they were counting on folks like us to stay home — but we proved them wrong. Barack won because record numbers of women and minorities and young people showed up to vote.
But, see, then when the midterms came along, too many of our people just tuned out — and that’s what folks are counting on, on the other side this year. Because when we stay home, they win. So they’re assuming that we won’t care. They’re hoping that we won’t be organized. And only we can prove them wrong.
And as Mike said, this race is going to be tight. We know that races like this can be won or lost by just a few thousand — even just a few hundred votes.
I want you to just think about what happened in the governor’s race here in Maine back in 2010. The outcome of that election — yes, you guys are like, ooh. But the outcome of that election was decided by about 9,800 votes. And while that might sound like a lot, when you break down that number, that’s about eight votes per precinct. Do you understand that? That’s eight votes.
Now I know that every single one of you knows eight people who can get to the polls, right? You know eight people who didn’t vote in those elections. You know eight people who are thinking in their minds that their vote doesn’t count. You know those folks. You know them. They say, why should I vote, what does it matter. Well, it made the difference in last year’s election for governor — 2010. So let’s be clear: This is on us. We can’t wait around for anyone else to do this for us. It’s on us to get people energized. It’s on us to get folks out to vote on November the 4th.
And that’s where you all come in. We need all of you out there every day — do you hear me? Every day. Not every other — every day between now and November 4th we need you knocking on doors and making calls and getting everyone you know out to vote for Mike because it will be that ground game that makes the difference. It’s that kind of hard work for anybody who worked on our campaign — you know how valuable that kind of day-to-day work is. Don’t ever underestimate it. And it may seem tedious, and it may be a little bit frightening knocking on a stranger’s door, but it’s that kind of interaction with your neighbors that makes all the difference.
And you can sign up to volunteer right here and right now — just find one of the organizers with the clipboard. They’re all here. And I want every single one of you to sign up for at least one shift for the final four days of the election — that’s essential. It’s those last four days, that last big push.
And then, on Election Day, when you head to the polls to vote for Mike, I want you all to bring eight people with you. Okay? Bring your eight people with you. Bring folks from your family, your neighborhood, your church, your school, your classmates, your dorm mates. Don’t leave anyone behind.
And start reaching out to those folks today just to tell them to mark November 4th on their calendars. This race will be so close. And on election night, as the results are coming in, I want you to be able to look back and know that you did everything you could to elect Mike as the next governor of Maine, because the stakes this year simply could not be higher.
And if we don’t show up at the polls this November, if we don’t elect leaders like Mike who will put people first instead of just fighting for special interests, then we know exactly what will happen. We will see more folks interfering in women’s private decisions about our health care. We’ll see more opposition to raising the minimum wage and ensuring access to health care for hard-working folks.
So I want to be very clear: If you think people who work 40 or 50 hours a week shouldn’t have to live in poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth, if you think women should get equal pay for equal work, if you want your kids to have quality preschool and the college education they need to fulfill every last bit of their God-given potential, then you need to step up and get everyone you know out to vote this November. That’s what’s at stake in these elections — the kind of country we want to leave for our kids and grandkids. That’s what’s at stake.
And here is what I want you to remember: Those kids, our kids, are counting on us to stand up for them this November. And there are so many of these kids all over the country who I meet every day who are counting on us. Kids like a young man named Lawrence Lawson who I met earlier this year.
This kid lost his father — he died when he was just eight years old. And at the age of nine, Lawrence suffered a major seizure and had to learn to read, and walk and speak again. When he was twelve, his mom passed away, and Lawrence was passed from his aunt in Atlanta to his sister in Baltimore. But no matter where he was, Lawrence did his best in school. He joined the marching band, interned at John’s Hopkins hospital, and he graduated as the valedictorian of his high school class.
And I share this story — there are so many like them — because as I travel across the country, I meet so many kids just like Lawrence. Kids who wake up early and take the long route to school to avoid the gangs. Kids who juggle after school jobs to support their families and then stay up late to get their homework done. Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, but who are fighting every day to realize their dream of a better life.
These kids have every reason to give up. They have every reason to give up, but they don’t because they are so hungry to succeed. They are so desperate to lift themselves up. And that’s why we’re here today — because those kids never give up, and neither can we.
So between now and November, we need to be energized for them. We need to be inspired for them. We need to pour everything we have into this election so that they can have the opportunities they deserve to build a better life.
And here is what I know: As First Lady of the United States, I have learned that if we do that, if we take all our energy and passion and caring and good intention, and we pour it into this election, and we bring others along with us, then I know that we can keep on making that change we believe in. I know that we can elect Mike Michaud as governor of Maine. And I know that, together, we can build a future worthy of all our children.
Thank you all so much. Good luck. We are with you every step of the way. Don’t get tired. We love you. Thank you.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )