NEWS CENTER Maine’s Political Brew: Sunday, March 6, 2022

MAINE, USA — Revenue forecasters say Maine will take in an additional $412 million above earlier projections, on top of the $820 million surpluses already accounted for in the supplemental budget. So Gov. Janet Mills plans to boost the refund checks that would go out by year’s end from $500 to $750.

Ray Richardson thinks this is a “political stunt,” The surplus should be used to cut income tax rates instead. But he said majority Democrats will pass this, and Republicans ought to go along and “give it a 2/3 majority so that it takes effect immediately, and those checks come out in June or July instead of September or October as Gov. Mills would probably most like.”

Ken Altshuler agreed the checks are a “political ploy.” He said, “Republicans will go along with it. It’ll make people like Janet Mills, but I don’t think it’s sound financial strategy.”

In light of the invasion of Ukraine, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) back a bipartisan bill to ban Russian energy imports, which is likely to have an impact on gas and oil prices.

Altshuler said, “You have to do it, from a moral and practical point of view, no matter the cost.”

“We are helping fund Putin’s aggression in Ukraine,” Richardson said. “And it’s just intolerable.” 

Richardson said he thinks the ban should be accompanied by an order from President Joe Biden to increase domestic oil production. He said because oil prices are based on futures contracts, “If the president were to say we’re going to turn the spigot back on in America, you would see the price of oil drop immediately. That would be a big thing for the American people.”

In a court filing last week, the House Committee investigating the 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol argued former President Donald Trump was involved in a “criminal conspiracy” to overturn the 2020 election, including preventing Congress from certifying electoral votes.

Altshuler believes Trump “materially participated in a strategy to defraud the American public into believing that the election was fraudulent, which it was not.” He hopes this might encourage some more Republicans to reject the notion of a stolen election. But he added, “Will anything come of it? Are they going to indict the president of the United States? I have my doubts about that.”

Richardson said he has never accepted the “stolen election” argument because there is no evidence that would stand up in court. And he believes an investigation of Jan. 6 was needed but that the wrong people are conducting it because he feels the House committee is made up of “Trump haters.”

Richardson added, “I think this committee is a witch hunt, and they had a conclusion, and they were just trying to find some documents to back it up.”

Our analysts also discussed the dangers posed by Vladimir Putin, including cyber-warfare threats, the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Katanji Brown Jackson, and a U.S. Senate resolution to block the COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers, a move backed by Collins and rejected by King.

Political Brew airs Sundays on NEWS CENTER Maine’s Weekend Morning Report. 






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