The budget fight in Augusta has become an interesting battle. Generally, one would think it would be a partisan fight between Democrats and Republicans, with one side wanting to maintain or increase spending and also raise taxes, with the other side opposed. Right?
Instead, we’re treated to a heated internal war between Republicans. Governor Paul LePage, Maine’s vulgar gift that keeps on giving, presented a liberal budget plan with little room for negotiation. He has slammed opponents of his tax-and-spend proposal as “bums”, and personally guaranteed he will campaign against anyone opposed.
While some may have simply dismissed it as Governor LePage’s usual rage fits and temper tantrums, it appears he’s actually serious. He’s helped set up the Republican Party in a perfect position to lose the next election.
A criticism conservative activists often have of Republicans is that they’re spineless and unprincipled. Despite having the Senate and the Blaine House, they continue to play like they have nothing. Democrats constantly enjoy playing with power, even without real numbers, because Republicans largely lack the necessary spinal cord to enact meaningful change for Maine.
So when Governor LePage proposes increasing spending and a tax shift scheme, it only affirms why conservatives time and time again abandon the Republican Party. They have nothing. A majority of Republicans even appear ready to shut down government over a tax shift.
One would think Republicans, who often campaign on cutting taxes and spending, would shut down government over slashing spending and decreasing taxes. But they’re not.
But this is why Governor LePage and his allies are campaigning against Senate Republicans. There isn’t a lot of meaningful change as Republicans have a heated internal debate about whether or not the campaign pledges against tax increases mean anything at all.
And the campaign has already begun. Governor LePage’s daughter has gone on a spam streak blowing up people’s voicemails with propaganda against Republicans who disagree with her father. Listen Lauren, the Maine People’s Alliance are calling: they want the pages in their playbook back.
These robocalls became a point of controversy, given it looks odd at best that the Governor’s daughter is using an outside organization to grind her father’s axe. For now, I’ll hesitate using the word “coordination.”
After these circulated, Lauren LePage went on WGAN’s “Ken and Mike” radio program to discuss the ongoing budget mess. After defending her Maine People’s Alliance-inspired tactics, an interesting thing happened. Mike questioned her about necessary spending cuts to offset the loss in revenue that would occur with an income tax cut. After firing off some broad and general figures that were clearly unsupported by any actual facts, Ken pressed her for a single spending cut proposal her father made, she had nothing. Ken just wanted one example, which she conceded she did not know.
This must be why the next day, when Governor LePage went on the radio, his response to the same question was to raise the sales tax. Brilliant, Governor, you’re the father of a liberal tactician and like to borrow tax schemes from Democrats.
The Republicans have lost the next election faster than Governor LePage has lost his mind. Instead of being the party of cutting spending and decreasing taxes, Republicans are attempting to raise spending and merely shift taxes, while eating their own for opposing tax increases. Apparently when the heat turns up and the going gets rough, the campaign anti-tax rhetoric gets left at the door until needed in the next election cycle.
Maine House Republicans are whining about the Maine People’s Alliance pulling Lauren LePages against their party, while remaining silent on the Governor’s daughter advancing propaganda against members of their own party who want to prevent tax increases.
All the infighting is going to amount to the government shutdown because the Governor can’t get his way with his liberal budget. And even if the shutdown is averted, it will look as though it was the Republicans’ fault.
In the end, Democrats will end up sweeping up the next election. Governor LePage will get his way by ensuring the Republicans who have long previously defended him will get removed from office. He will further get his way with wanting higher spending and more taxes, by ensuring that Republicans will lose and Democrats replace them.
Congratulations. Once again, Republicans go out of their way to prove why conservative activists largely have no faith in their ability to accomplish any meaningful change.