Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gubernatorial scorecard: The quiet man

Published in the Portland Phoenix

Governor Paul LePage has, perhaps unexpectedly, refrained from loudly saying stupid things over the past month or so, since GOP legislators confronted him and told him he was a problem child. (Dems figured this out too, and are using LePage's photo on flyers recruiting activists for summer work.) Here's our fifth Gubernatorial Scorecard, in which we score Governor Paul LePage on political savvy, and on whether what he's trying to do is good policy. Note the running total.
QUIET ATTACK | LePage's budget proposal would eliminate all state funding for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network ($2 million a year), and is widely viewed as payback for aggressive coverage by MPBN news staff during his campaign. When asked, LePage denied it was payback, and stuck to that line.
POLITICS • He may have mastered the art of attacking without seeming to | 7/10
POLICY • Slashing the only decent news provider available to most of rural Maine | 2/10
QUIET SPENDING | LePage's budget also gives big handouts to Maine's wealthiest (in the form of income- and estate-tax cuts); he has claimed it is better for everyone because it also gives tiny handouts to working Mainers. This assertion, while technically true, has yet to be challenged by nonpartisan observers (such as the press), who might note that trickle-up is the economic model backed by the evidence; trickle-down, based on evidence and experience, is a failure.
POLITICS • Is he also mastering the art of double-speak? | 8/10
POLICY • Giving money to the rich barely helps the economy; giving it to the poor is a massive boost to all | 2/10
QUIET ACTIVISM | The governor promised during his campaign to take away worker rights, ostensibly to give employers more freedom to create jobs. He has carried this through, by killing a bill that would have increased the minimum wage, by reviving an anti-union proposal long thought dead by State House watchers, and by cutting welfare benefits.
POLITICS • Keeping his campaign promises | 7/10
POLICY • The jury's out on whether employers will exploit workers, hire more, or both | 5/10
QUIET DEATH | The governor and his GOP operatives rammed through a major overhaul of the state's health-insurance system, reducing consumer protections and allowing different companies to play by different (and fewer) rules. It drew very vocal opposition around the state and forced the resignation of the state's top insurance regulator. Fewer people will be able to afford care, what care there is will be more limited and more expensive, and companies will be freer to screw customers.
POLITICS • Proved he can work the system to get major agenda goals accomplished | 10/10
POLICY • Insurers from other states welcome, except Vermont, which just moved closer to single-payer | 2/10
QUIET DESTRUCTION | LePage has moved to reduce Maine's efforts toward energy independence, saying existing rules are too burdensome on customers, including businesses. In addition to supporting continued dependence on foreign sources, critics say the move could kill Maine's nascent green-energy industry. The governor says much of that industry depends on tax breaks and is "temporary."
POLITICS • Policy-wonk move cleverly explained as "you save money" | 9/10
POLICY • Green innovation needs government mandates to succeed | 4/10
This month's total | Politics 36/50 | Policy 15/50 | Last month: Politics 24/50 | Policy 29/50 | Overall: Politics 148/250 | Policy 106/250