The following op-ed originally appeared in the March 3 edition of the Downeast Coastal Press, a weekly newspaper based in Cutler, Maine.
By Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst) – I appreciate the opportunity to address the controversy swirling around liberal blogger Mike Tipping’s recent post detailing my long paper trail as a commentator on social and political issues. As your readers know, I am a passionate advocate for the issues I believe in, and I’ve been writing opinion columns for Maine newspapers for nearly 35 years.
Make no mistake: Tipping’s blog wasn’t prompted by anything I wrote 20 or 30 years ago. This political fight is all about what I’ve said and written in the last two years on the urgent issues facing Maine state government. Frankly, my constituents aren’t much interested in re-hashing and re-litigating decades-old public policy debates. They want a representative who is focused on making Maine as great a place to make a living as it is a place to live.
I make no apology for being a strong believer in the sanctity of human life and traditional family values. So I was appalled to read how my statement about rape was torn out of context and turned on its head. In fact, I have argued in favor of long prison terms for the heinous crime of rape, and I’m old enough to remember when rape was a capital crime in many states. Believe me, there was a lot less rape in those days.
I can understand why people would be offended by the rape analogy taken out of context. I was simply trying, maybe too hard, to make a point about the sanctity of life.
As for my comments about HIV transmission, remember that the early 1980s was a scary time when the AIDS epidemic first hit the news. Not much was known about the disease or modes of transmission. I was wrong about possible transmission by casual contact. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have never raised the issue.
With regard to the federal income tax, it is true that for many years I have been a vocal critic of IRS tyranny and abuse of taxpayers. It turns out that I underestimated the extent to which the IRS has been used as a political weapon against critics of big government. In fact, the vampire analogy fits better now than it did 25 years ago.
The passionate energy of my youth has matured into a sharp focus on advocating for pro-growth tax policy. We need to continue reforming Maine’s tax code so that we can attract good-paying jobs and give our kids and grandkids the opportunity to stay here in this beautiful state and provide a decent living for their families.
Believe it or not, until Gov. Paul LePage and the Republican majorities in the 125th Legislature passed their landmark tax reform package three years ago, Maine treated people who make $20,000 a year the same as millionaires, in the top 8.5 percent tax bracket. Since we reduced rates and allowed working people to keep more of their own money, tax revenues are up, and thousands of new jobs have been created in the private sector. It works every time it’s tried.
I am a husband, father and grandfather. When I was a younger, I knew what it was like to live from paycheck to paycheck to provide for my family. My focus now is to do everything I can as a legislator to make sure the next generation of Maine families enjoys the blessings of liberty and prosperity. We can make that happen if we return to our roots and adhere to the principles on which this country was founded.
—Rep. Lockman, a Republican, is serving his first term in the Maine House. He lives in Amherst.