Maine Governor, Paul LePage, has problems with welfare, but there’s one issue; he doesn’t seem to know what welfare is. In calculating Maine residents’ personal income growth rate, and didn’t include what are known as “personal transfer receipts” from the federal government.
His comments came at a press release aimed at presenting an alternate view of Maine’s income growth. He refused to include any and all payments from the government including Medicare and Social Security payments, because those are “welfare.”
LePage said that Maine’s personal income growth was 0.8 percent, which is similar to other New England states. He must have had a major problem with one of the cited reasons for Maine’s poor growth, which was actually 0.5 percent; they didn’t expand Medicaid. Of course, Medicaid is also welfare, according to him.
LePage didn’t want to follow the federal government’s numbers because they “conceal welfare payments,” and he complained about redistribution of wealth. According to the Portland Press Herald, his specific comments were:
“It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple. Democrats from the White House all the way down to Democratic leadership in Augusta believe that redistribution of wealth—taking money from hard-working taxpayers and giving it to a growing number of welfare recipients—is personal income. It’s not. It’s just more welfare expansion. Democrats can obfuscate the numbers any way they want. The fact is that we have created thousands of jobs, more Mainers are working, and their income is going up.”
Clearly, he doesn’t know that Social Security and Medicare payments come from funds that working Americans pay into all their lives. Even the self-employed pay these taxes; for them, it’s “affectionately” called the Self-Employment Tax, but it’s more or less the same as payroll taxes.
U.S. Representative Mike Michaud took issue with LePage’s comments, saying that they were insulting to seniors. He’s right. Retired seniors often find themselves at or near the poverty level, even with Social Security income, and Medicare helping with their doctor’s bills.
But Social Security has been around since the 1930s, and Medicare since Lyndon Johnson was in office. People who are retired now worked hard for these benefits that cover less and less.
LePage needs a good lesson in government programs. Unfortunately, even he is entitled to Social Security and Medicare when he reaches the legal age of retirement — because he paid into them and he’s worked throughout his life.