Mike: Cynthia, with so much going on over the past week and a half, let’s try a “speed round” to try and keep ahead of developments. Sound good?
Cynthia: I was built for speed, Mike. Ready, set, go!
Budget Veto Override
Mike: Chaos in the GOP continues to reign. Almost half of the Republican caucus in both chambers stood with the governor. Now, with the questionable “shutdown” spectre behind them, this battle over taxes and spending is going to continue…and probably accelerate!
Cynthia: With lightning speed, Maine’s chief executive became irrelevant to the state’s budget, squandered all his political capital and drew more national attention as a blockhead. A spectacle of GOP chaos and dysfunction just in time for summer tourists!
National Park Votes
Cynthia: 572 Quimby NIMBYs shouldn’t have the power to quash an exceptional opportunity to improve the quality of life in Maine. Give all the People a voice! Put this question on the next statewide ballot — quick!
Mike: Yes, let’s ignore the voices of locals and the flaws of a study which didn’t control for a minor variable called “Baxter.” Running roughshod over rural Maine worked so well for bears and Steve Woods…oh, wait. Nevermind. Maybe Team Quimby should take the sage advice of another BDN columnist and, you know, constructively engage people.
Mike: I understand the Democratic angst over Gov. LePage, but he didn’t do anything illegal. Losing confidence in an entity and denying them future discretionary taxpayer funding is his prerogative; see, e.g., Nova Star. There is no crime and “being a meanie” isn’t grounds for impeachment.
Cynthia: The question for the Legislature is simply whether the governor’s actions constitute a “misdemeanor in office,” and there’s no doubt the accumulation of alleged abuses of power warrant that inquiry. Articles of impeachment should be voted on — pronto — by the House, and if passed, tried by the Senate.
Whether there’s been criminal activity is an entirely different question answered by a prosecutor and jury.
ACA Supreme Court Decision
Cynthia: The Supreme Court did the right thing interpreting the Affordable Care Act in context. As a result, 60,000 Maine people will not suddenly lose their health insurance and President Obama’s legacy is strong despite Republicans’ relentless attempts to sabotage it.
Mike: Yes, words in legislatively enacted statutes are now like points in “Who’s Line is it Anyway” — they don’t matter! I agree with the court that enforcing the law as written offers a strange result, but Congress passes dumb laws all the time; it’s their prerogative. All this decision does is give more power to the executive branch, which is exactly what the Democrats are fighting against in Maine.
Mike: Speaking of which, the governor has a pretty compelling argument that the Legislature is overreaching trying to force the sale of bonds. Does the end of getting money into the LMF pot justify means which ignore the Constitution? And where is Janet Mills going to land on this?
Cynthia: Since when is passing a law to implement the will of the majority of voters and legislators overreaching? Janet Mills presumably weighed in when the bill had its public hearing. The question is how rapidly Treasurer Terry Hayes can land now that she might have something of consequence to do.
Gay Marriage Decision
Cynthia: Talk about speed! Love wins!
Mike: The biggest unheralded thing about the decision? Marriage itself is apparently a constitutional right, so states might be prohibited from taking the most rational approach and getting out of the marriage business — whether gay, straight, or type-to-be-named-later — altogether. Talk about strange results.
Chris Christie Endorsement
Mike: But in other bro-mance news, Gov. LePage has endorsed Gov. Christie. Does this help or hurt the New Jersian? I say help — Gov. LePage’s national supporters may take another look at Chris Christie, where they might have otherwise written him off as a RINO.
Cynthia: Rhinos produce as much as 50 pounds of dung per day. That will get old quickly.
The LePage endorsement was for LePage’s benefit. Christie knows better than to decline an invitation from Maine’s governor — especially when he’s trying to land a job he’s clearly not qualified for…
Cynthia: Pavlov would be impressed with how swiftly Republicans and Democrats were conditioned to vote together during veto-mania. The unanimous vote to investigate facts surrounding the Good Will-Hinckley funding was super speedy!
Mike: Except for the minor detail that a committee cannot constitutionally investigate the chief executive without the entire Legislature’s imprimatur; departments are different.
But even with all this rushing around, I don’t think we’re actually getting anywhere. We’ll just have to see what next week brings.