Media Freaks as Maine Governor Refuses to Adhere to Statewide Vote


Even after eight years in office, Gov. Paul LePage can still drive liberals crazy.

The Maine Republican already had a reputation for contrary behavior and a governing style that was definitely not politically correct, but his latest stance is sending opponents ever further around the bend than usual.

That’s because LePage is refusing to go along with the results of a popular referendum on one of Obamacare’s most suicidal provisions.

With LePage in the governor’s office, Maine has been one of 18 states that didn’t expand Medicaid from a program for families with children, the elderly and others with special needs to a much wider program that covers all low-income, able-bodied adults.

According to the Bangor Daily News, LePage has vetoed bills approved by Maine’s legislature to expand Medicaid five times during his time in office.

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In November, lawmakers thought they found a way around the governor’s veto pen by putting the issue on a popular referendum where it passed by 60 percent of the vote, according to NPR.

But the vote that still matters is behind the governor’s desk in the capital of Augusta.

With a mainstream media that loves to call LePage a “tea party Republican,” his resistance is making news in outlets far outside The Pine Tree State.

Politico made note of the fact Maine would have been the first state to expand Medicaid since President Donald Trump was elected.

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New York magazine headlined its piece, “Maine’s Governor Defies the Law and Voters on Medicaid Expansion” (the headline gives a pretty good idea of the slant the story takes.)

But LePage is giving no ground.

In a letter to lawmakers one month after the referendum, LePage made it clear he was not going to put his signature on a bill that would bankrupt his state.

“While I remain adamantly opposed to the policy of expanding Medicaid because it threatens our state’s financial stability, the Legislature is allowing it to become the law,” he wrote.

“You, the Legislature, now must do your job to fund it as quickly as possible so the executive branch can do its job: execute the law. But I will not implement it without adequate funding.”

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Without getting into the weeks of Medicaid funding and Maine politics, it’s important to concede that LePage’s critics do have a point. The people spoke through the referendum, and it’s a lawmaker’s job to carry out the people’s will.

But it’s also vital to point out that LePage’s concerns about Medicaid funding are not only solidly based in theory, they’re actually playing out in the states that did adopt Medicaid expansion in the heady days after the monstrosity of Obamacare became law.

As an October report in US News pointed out, Medicaid expansion has been a prescription for disaster for the states that went along with it.

“Lured by the shiny promise of providing health insurance to more people, too many governors neglected silly concerns like fiscal integrity,” the report says. “In the cases of Kentucky and New Hampshire, Republican governors are trying to clean up messes left by Democratic predecessors. In Ohio, a Republican legislature is trying to clean up the mess created and perpetuated by Republican Gov. John Kasich. There, Kasich imposed Medicaid expansion over the heads of a legislature that opposed it. Eighteen months later, the plan was $1.5 billion over budget, but Kasich continues to moralize while spending spirals out of control. Medicaid costs have risen 35 percent over the past four years, from $18.9 billion in fiscal 2013 to $25.7 billion this year.”

None of those arguments matter to liberals nationally, because they wanted to use the Maine vote as ammunition for the argument that the Trump presidency is being rejected by voters who long for the days of Obama (and the disaster known as Obamacare).

It’s also important to liberals to bash LePage, who was a well-known opponent of the Obama administration despite his state’s small size, thanks to his high-profile stances on issues like transgender bathrooms and his distaste for those who abuse food stamps.

Critics can say LePage is defying the law with his position, but his warnings about the financial perils of Obamacare are being justified in real time throughout the country.

Thanks to term limits, he won’t be able to run again for governor. If Maine voters want to continue down a financially suicidal path, they can always elect someone who will agree with them in November.

Until then, though, he’s going to keep driving them crazy.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.