Commentary

Progressives Have Turned Their Backs on Maine’s Most Vulnerable Citizens

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This is a comment I received from an 81-year old widow in Penobscot County in response to a constituent survey I mailed to every household in my District earlier this year:
 
“A woman and her five kids and pregnant daughter came up from Florida and got on welfare immediately. Got her check-up for both her and her daughter. Had her teeth out. I had to pay $1,500 to have mine out. She got new dentures. I had to pay $2,000 for mine. She got new glasses. I had to pay $600 for mine. Her daughter had her baby on welfare. They both had pap and breast exams. They went back to Florida within about 6 months, bought 2 dogs and a parrot while they were here, also destroyed the house they were renting.”
 
I called the widow to verify that she had written the comment quoted above. She confirmed that she had, and thanked me for the work I’m doing in Augusta to reform Maine’s broken welfare system.
 
Left-wing progressive politicians and pundits dismiss such accounts of welfare abuse as anecdotal, and complain that anyone who calls attention to the problem must be lacking in compassion. We’re supposed to be shamed into silence when limousine liberals who profit from making people dependent on government lecture us about how much they care about poor people.
 
Lest we forget, it was Gov. John Baldacci and Democrat majorities in the Legislature who turned the social safety net into a hammock when they expanded Medicaid eligibility to include folks for whom the program was never intended. Maine’s elderly and disabled were shoved aside to make way for legions of able-bodied young adults, including noncitizens, who stepped up to cash in on the biggest expansion of welfare in Maine history.
 
Thanks to a Baldacci executive order, Maine was a “sanctuary state” (harboring haven) during this period of time, effectively throwing the doors open and inviting illegal immigrants to settle here and sign up for welfare benefits.
 
Democrat Speaker of the the House Mark Eves praised the 2003 Medicaid expansion as “a wise investment” of public funds, and argued that it would be morally wrong to reduce Medicaid enrollment to previous levels. In fact, just four years ago Eves advocated for yet another round of welfare expansion to include an additional 75,000 childless adults: 60 percent of them male, 75 percent single, 60 percent under 45-years old, all of them under 65 and all able-bodied.
 
At the time, Eves was business development director for a nonprofit social-services agency with tens of millions of dollars in state Medicaid contracts and a CEO pulling down an annual salary of $300,000.
 
During the decade-long Medicaid expansion under Gov. Baldacci, thousands of Maine’s most vulnerable elderly and disabled citizens were consigned to the notorious Medicaid waitlists because the Legislature couldn’t find funding for needed in-home services for these folks. Increasing welfare costs for non-disabled, non-elderly single adults cannibalized the state budget year after year and led directly to the under-funding and eventual closure of rural nursing homes.
 
These outcomes are the toxic legacy of progressive policy-making in Maine and the homegrown Nanny State Nonprofit Industrial Complex that spawns permanent high-paying jobs for the liberal elite and the party faithful.
 
Politically, their roost is the Democrat Party, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the left-wing extremist Maine Peoples Alliance, better known today as the Marxist Peoples Alliance. The MPA’s radical legislative agenda of welfare expansion, tax hikes and open borders is the tail that wags the Democrat donkey in Maine politics, and drives the Democrat agenda in the Legislature.
 
My top priority as a legislator is to give voice to folks like the 81-year old widow and others like her who want a better future for their kids and grand kids, and who understand that state government needs to get its priorities in order. The safety net shouldn’t be a hammock, and Maine people who have lived here and worked here and paid taxes here all their lives shouldn’t be the last in line for needed services.
 
We must continue working to reform our broken welfare system, and move our beautiful state from poverty to prosperity. Let’s make Maine as great a place to make a living as it is a place to live and raise a family.

About Larry Lockman

State Representative Larry Lockman represents Maine House District 137, which includes parts of Hancock, Washington, and Penobscot counties. He may be contacted at Lawrence.Lockman@legislature.maine.gov

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