Millworker or mustard maker?

Ethan: Can you give me one good reason the people of the 2nd congressional district should not re-elect Democrat U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud? He is Maine’s working class hero. Honestly, even a reasonable Republican like you must recognize that he does a great job for the state.

Phil: One good reason to not send him back to D.C.? Sure. He’s fully vested in his lifetime pension and free lifetime health insurance. The good people of the 2nd district should help him get back to Maine to enjoy his retirement and live by the laws he has championed. Let him feel a bit of what it is like to live in the environment he created, mandated and regulated.

Ethan: Sorry to break it to you, Phil, but if the only reason you can conjure up to not vote for Michaud is that you want him to enjoy our beautiful lakes and mountains, challenger Republican Kevin Raye is in store for a very rough beating at the polls.

Phil: Members of Congress enact the policy and spending that is executed by the president, right? Here’s what Michaud has accomplished. Unemployment higher than 8 percent. Twenty-four million people underemployed. Millions more on food stamps. National debt at $16 trillion with no plan to get it under control, let alone pay it down. Seems to me this travesty must come to a halt. Perhaps coming home and living in the economy he helped create would be good for all of us.

Ethan: I have always thought Michaud was an influential and respected legislator, but even I am impressed with the level of power you give him. The problem is that you and your colleagues on the other side of the aisle always fail to understand how much he understands the plight of Maine people. One of the reasons he wins so handily every year is because he has been steadfast in protecting Maine workers from having their jobs shipped overseas, losing unemployment benefits and in fighting for the funds needed to make investments in the infrastructure of northern Maine. Your guy’s greatest accomplishment seems to be fighting for a casino for Washington County that never materialized.

Phil: Where are the thousands of new jobs in Maine paper mills as a result of Michaud’s influence? Where’s the fiscal restraint, while he aggressively increases federal debt to curry votes? It is time to face facts. America is in deep financial trouble and needs representatives who legislate for the next generation instead of their next election.

Ethan: Well, let’s look at Michaud’s record. He voted for the stimulus that helped bring Maine’s unemployment back below 8 percent. He voted for health care reform, which will cover thousands of Mainers and reduce rates for thousands of businesses. He voted to extend unemployment for workers who could not find a job. He voted to end workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians. And he has been a champion for increasing the federal minimum wage. What’s your guy done for working people?

Phil: So you are telling me that Michaud has succeeded based upon 8 percent unemployment and votes on a few social issues? Really, Ethan, we can do better! What about the $16 trillion in debt we don’t know how to repay? Perhaps Michaud should present his plan to address the massive tax increase that will go into effect come January. That would be an act of leadership, something we need in Washington more than ever.

Ethan: You are doing a remarkable job avoiding talking about Raye. You sound like the Republicans who keep attacking independent U.S. Senate candidate Angus King but never seem to say anything positive about Republican Charlie Summers. That said, I am happy to keep discussing Michaud’s good work. After all, he has fought tirelessly to ensure that our soldiers wear clothing made in the United States in order to help Maine’s shoe industry. He has secured record research and development funding for our university, which has solidified almost 100 jobs and rippled out expanded opportunities for nearly 90 businesses. Thanks to Michaud’s efforts, Ocean Renewable Power Company, which is working on tidal power, has already created 80 jobs in eight Maine counties and is projected to create up to another 500 jobs in the next 10 years. Really, Phil, just say mercy or tap the mat whenever you want to give up.

Phil: Raye has the ideal combination of experience to represent the 2nd district. With his wife he runs a multi-generational family business in Washington County and knows how to meet a payroll in good times and bad. He successfully led the Maine Senate as its president, and he knows the ways of D.C., having served on Sen. Olympia Snowe’s staff for 17 years. We need someone who knows firsthand what it’s like to risk all that you have accumulated to meet a payroll, pay property taxes and hopefully earn enough to pay income taxes. We’ve seen enough central planners in D.C. convincing Congress to borrow our way into prosperity. It isn’t working!

Ethan: Well, the people of the 2nd district seem to think Michaud is working. Latest poll has him up 19 points! No wonder you spent so much of this column trying to knock him down.

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