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Daily Catch: Minimum Wage Hike Threatens Jobs, GOP Eyes Lewiston, Democrats Oppose Religious Liberty (Bill)

Minimum Hike Wage Kills Jobs: The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is quickly becoming a thorn in the Obama administration’s side. First it dropped a bombshell report showing how the Affordable Car Act’s mandates would cause workers to work fewer hours – the equivalent of 2 million jobs lost by 2017. Now the CBO says President Obama’s call to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 could cost the American economy as many as 500,000 jobs. CBO’s rationale is simple: If you raise the cost of a good (labor), people (employers) will buy less of it.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan says don’t expand Medicaid: During a visit to New Hampshire, Paul Ryan reportedly told a crowd “don’t do Medicaid expansion.” According to Ryan, “There’s no way federal funding will be there after three years. It’s an unfunded mandate.” (h/t David Sorensen)

Chaos in Kiev: Ukrainian protesters are clashing with state police in a violent conflict that threatens to destabilize the region. Last night, police stormed the main protest camp in Kiev using armored vehicles, stun grenades and water cannons. Disgruntled citizens have been rebelling against President Viktor Yankovych’s administration since at least November. Further conflict could prompt Russian intervention in the region.

Homeland Wants National License Plate Tracking System: The Department of Homeland Security is seeking to expand the Panopticon State with the addition of a national license plate scanning system. The system would involve automated cameras that scan the plates on every passing car and store the information in a central database. The information can later be accessed pursuant to criminal investigations to identify travel patterns. Automated license plate scanning systems are already in use in Maine, but state law requires the destruction of records after 21 days.

Comparing the U.S. Welfare State to Europe: From the Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner: “How bad have things become? The British newspaper the Telegraph recently looked at the growth in welfare spending in industrialized nations and found that such spending (including health-care and pension programs) had grown faster in the United States since 2000 than in any country in Europe except Ireland, Spain, and Portugal.” As welfare states across the pond seek to rein in generous welfare systems, the U.S. looks to expand. Liberals are always telling us how we should emulate Europe. Perhaps we should.

The continuing defense of the Sweetser Speaker: BDN blogger Mike Tipping, communications director for the Maine People’s Alliance, endeavored to defend House Speaker Mark Eves (D-North Berwick) against Republican allegations that the Speaker has a conflict of interest with regard to Medicaid expansion. Tipping’s defense relies on the tu quoque logical fallacy, i.e., some Republicans may also have conflicts, so no conflicts matter. But his ad hominem attack on Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough) falls flat. Although Volk’s position on the board of a virtual charter school does raise ethical issues worth considering before she votes on a virtual charter school bill, Volk is not a paid director of business development, nor does her virtual charter school have a history of taking no-bid contracts from the state.

GOP sets eyes on Lewiston: With the recent announcement that longtime Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Lewiston) will not seek reelection, the Maine Republican Party is looking to strike a victory in what is typically a Democratic stronghold. While it’s early, the contest will likely feature Republican Patricia Gagne, an insurance agent and chairwoman of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, verse Rep. Nathan Libby (D-Lewiston), a Bates College graduate and Lewiston City Councilor. The Bangor Daily News’ Mario Moretto has an excellent write-up of the coming battle in Androscoggin County.

Democrats Vote Against Religious Freedom (Bill): The Maine Senate voted mostly on party lines Tuesday to accept the Judiciary Committee’s “ought not to pass” recommendation on a bill to protect religious liberty. The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Burns (R-Washington), would have established a test for determining whether state infringements on religious activity are justified. Every senate Democrat, with the exception of Sen. John Tuttle (D-Sanford), voted against the bill. The partisan defeat of the bill, which was advocated heavily by the Christian Civic League of Maine, sets the stage for reelection campaign message that could prove problematic for Democrats: “Senator John Doe voted against protecting your religious rights!”

Frederic on Medicaid Expansion at Village Soup: Ken Frederic presents facts that complicate an “otherwise compelling proposal” in a thorough article for the Village Soup. The article lays out reasonable arguments against a well-marketed proposal to expand Maine’s medical welfare program: 1) We’re helping young, able-bodied individuals while ignoring more needy citizens; 2) Experience has shown that far more than the 70,000 new enrollees projected by Democrats will sign up for free, no-copay, no-deductible medical welfare; 3) Despite claims the contrary, Maine taxpayers will undoubtedly be on the hook for an increased liability, even if the indebted federal government can sustain its promised levels of funding; and, 4) As welfare spending continues to consume an ever-greater portion of the state’s General Fund, other priorities like public safety and education lose out. Frederic’s piece is part of trend of more Mainers writing letters to the editor voicing their concerns about entering another costly expansion of Medicaid, e.g., Medicaid Headache, Analysis Predicts Costs of Medicaid Expansion, Doctors Should Reject Expansion of Medicaid, and Alternatives Exist to Medicaid Expansion.

O’Keefe Busts Battleground Texas: Conservative guerilla journalist James O’Keefe has released a new undercover video revealing progressive Battleground Texas operatives exploiting legally protected information to drive Democratic voter turnout. In O’Keefe’s video, a volunteer for the left-wing electioneering group says the group uses phone numbers provided on voter registration forms in subsequent efforts to boost turnout — a violation of Texas Election Code. Battleground Texas is a key player in a national Democratic strategy to turn Texas into a solid blue state – an accomplishment that would effectively abolish any Republican hopes of winning a presidential election in the next fifty years.