Saturday, August 2, 2008

What a great, newsy weekend!

Once again we are in a weekend. Once again we’re looking at unsettled weather with a chance of showers throughout. Of course like most of the days for the last two or three weeks not everyone will get showers. Like Friday night, for example. Our daughter and her dog came over for supper and to help with a project. We had nice sunshine all the time she was here. When she got home, she called to tell us her neighborhood was having a shower.

What a day it was Friday for Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives! Late Friday morning Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the August recess. By one vote, the House went into recess for the month. Both Tom Allen and Mike Michaud followed the orders to vote for the recess. One extremely unofficial source I read said the vote was tied until a man from Maine walked in and cast the deciding vote. In any event, if either Allen or Michaud had voted to help Mainers with their energy problems instead of taking a vacation, the House would not have set up a Republican show.

But the House took no action for the American people on developing an energy policy. No action on trying to find a way to help the American people they represent with the high costs of all types of energy. They did nothing. They’ll try to find a way a way to blame President Bush for the situation, but what they’re now faced with is explaining to the American public, their constituents, why they refused to take any action on a bunch of Republican bills to at least begin resolving the problem and why they found taking an August vacation more important. Have I mentioned the single-digit confidence level of Congress is at its lowest point in history? Well below that of the President?

The Republicans in the House has made the Democrats’ tasks a little bit harder. While the Dems were heading home for a vacation, the Repubs stayed in the House chamber and continued to debate the crisis. Of course they couldn’t pass anything, but the speeches and the public interchange were priceless. We could follow the protest thanks only to the Internet. Helping out their cause Speaker Pelosi ordered the lights in the Chamber turned off along with the microphones and TV cameras. What her actions did was call even greater attention to the situation and what the Republicans were doing.

At last some Republicans in Washington have gained the fortitude to do something. We can only hope they keep it up and stir up the pot considerably heading into the November elections. It would be great if that fortitude could carry over into Maine. And when you see Tom Allen or Mike Michaud in Maine sometime this month, ask them if they are enjoying their vacation instead of working to solve a national crisis. I would guess a vacation is easier.

I also have noticed that both the local and the national news media have generally ignored this very important story, at least as of Saturday morning. It wasn’t mentioned on CBS or NBC Friday evening. I guess we now have real evidence they are Democrat supporters. And Saturday morning, I watched the first part of the Weekend Today show on NBC. The Republican protest didn’t make it, either. It should have been a lead story.

But that’s not the only news of interest this weekend. Here in Maine several newspapers have now told readers of the Dirigo Health problems and how the Dirigo Board has come up with a ridiculously unsupportable savings figure. In spite of Dirigo supporters’ claims, the program which insures only 12-thousand Mainers will not die if voters veto that massive tax increase in November designed to support it. This monumental failure of the Baldacci administration simply should be killed. Universal health care, the ultimate goal of Dirigo, is just too expensive for an overtaxed state like Maine. Oh, yes. The Governor says we have affordable health care.

And remember the huge state budget deficit that had been projected last spring? The state, after it promised no tax increases and then raised taxes, did announce it overcame the projection and with some creative accounting, like not paying its bills, ended the year with what it called a surplus. Now less than a month later we’re learning just what surplus means in state parlance. It means we’re now faced with a 400-million dollar budget deficit in the current biennium. This comes with the Legislature’s expanding and creating new programs with no consideration of how to pay for them. I hope everyone remembers how they’re treated in Augusta when the elections come up in November.

We have lots to think about during this exciting weekend in Maine. A national energy policy, Dirigo, potential budget shortfalls, projected, incidentally, by the government itself not me, will all be given lots of publicity in the months ahead.

But, it is, after all, a weekend. I hope you enjoy yours and I’ll be back Monday.


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