Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stormy Wednesday Out; Stormy Taxes In

Remember just a few short weeks ago when Wednesdays were signals for storms to roll through our area? I think it’s been several now that have been nice and sunny. Like today, at least so far. It is a little cool outside right now, but the TV weather guy said it would be a nice day before it was done, except, of course along the coast where afternoon sea breezes might keep it a little cooler.

As you know, I’m among the older folk in our state. One thing I wish could happen is that advertising agencies could return to the “good old days” when commercials on the TV were cute, interesting, enticing, and understandable. Many today go right over my head, and most that are supposed to be cute or funny leave me absolutely cold. I think it has been several years since an advertisement actually drew me into an establishment.

That said, there’s one that I really find fascinating. I don’t remember the name of the company, except it’s a cell phone service that really captures the stereotype cell phone user. You probably know the one I mean; it shows a series of folks with some sort of balloon passing by. Have you ever noticed how all the models used look like they’re in a vacant space? They are just staring off into nowhere demonstrating they have absolutely zero ambition. I guess it’s about the same as the occupants of three out of every five cars that pass me with a cell phone growing out their ears. They usually have no clue of the world around them.

I read a column on this morning in which two state legislators took issue with the criticism of the midnight and no public input passed tax increase bill. Sean Faircloth of the Bangor area and Phil Bartlett of Gorham, Scarborough and probably other local communities, both Democrats, say the criticism is wrong and that all the good of the tax increase haven’t been explained. They say it’s not true that the measure passed in a surprise late night meeting in the final moments of the last legislature.

Their argument says the tax was first discussed over two years ago and did have public input at that time. Seems to me if that is true, and I’m not suggesting it isn’t, it must be obvious that Mainers didn’t want it. If they had, it would have passed then. I hope they are not trying to deny this year’s passage was late at night with no public input or hearing.

I think their argument of the projected good by the plan which is designed to pay for the failed DirigoChoice health plan is also specious. They say that the plan is designed to slow down drinking of alcohol and soft drinks because they’re health hazards. Walking across a busy street is also a health hazard but I don’t see any taxes on it. The tax plan is simply a money grab for the state government.

It’s easy to show that Dirigo has failed. Not one of the goals that were established five years ago have come to fruition. Not even close. We were told, for example, that within three years of its implementation, more than 130-thousand uninsured Mainers would be on it. Today, depending on which Democrat is talking and the time of day and audience, somewhere between 12-thousand and 18-thousand have enrolled. And half or more of them already had insurance before they switched.

We were promised the program would be self-sustaining. The legislature has increased various taxes every year to fund the hundred million dollars spent on this program so far. This year, the tax on various types of drinks and on claims to other insurance companies will raise about 75-million dollars.

Sorry, Senators, you haven’t convinced me. I will sign the petition, if it ever comes out, to get repeal of the tax law onto the November ballot. And I’ll vote ‘yes’ then.


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