Editorial: A Tap Dance

Posted Friday, June 27, 2014 in Opinion

Editorial: A Tap Dance

Ladies and gentlemen, may we present the Blaine House Shuffle?

It goes something like this: Look at your base, step-ball-change. Infer an erroneous conclusion about what they think about “entitlements”, shuffle-step right, right, right, turn pickup. Watch the rest of the chorus line move in the opposite direction, shuffle-step, turn away left, left, left.

And then, you hope your new fancy footwork in the direction of your retreating chorus line distracts the base from the words you put down on paper just yesterday.

In case you missed it, on Wednesday, Gov. Paul LePage’s office issued a press release that labeled Social Security and Medicare “welfare.”

“The BEA [The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis] conceals welfare benefits by calling them 'Personal Current Transfer Receipts,' he is quoted as saying in a press release dated June 25.

“These 'Transfer Receipts' include: Social Security benefits; Medicare payments; Medicaid; and state unemployment insurance benefits…” he continued.

Although LePage did not say so, personal transfer receipts also include veterans benefits, nearly $86.4 billion nationally.  In Maine, when a vet leaves the armed services, he or she is eligible for a benefit of up to $386 per week until he or she is working full time in the civilian workforce. Vets can use that money to support themselves while attending college at no charge, or working to set up their own business with generous loan programs, which means the payments can continue for a while. Disabled vets are entitled to other VA benefits, and health care.

 “It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple,” said Gov. 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.”

LePage also called the subsidy for the Affordable Care Act, which comes from a person’s own expected health care deduction, “welfare.”

Now, we have no idea how many calls from angry seniors, vets, the unemployed, and others were made to the Blaine House on Thursday, but it must have been enough for some significant soul searching.

And when newspapers statewide picked up this information and reported it, LePage got upset.

Thus, on Thursday morning, his press secretary Adrienne Bennett sent another press release: “Governor Paul R. LePage issued the following statement today with regard to erroneous interpretations from the Portland Press Herald (italics ours) 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.’”

Clear now? No? Step-ball-change. “It’s the media’s fault for deliberately twisting my words,” says Paul LePage. But you know, the problem with watching the feet to distract from the mouth is that a lot of the time, the mouth contains at least one foot in this particular Blaine House.

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