Response to Susan Collins editorial

Although Senator Susan Collins didn’t hold a single town hall meeting in 2017 to speak with her constituents face-to-face, she did at least write an editorial published in our state’s newspapers last week, defending the tax bill she supported in December. Too bad she didn’t come back to Maine to explain her decision to the people she represents in person, giving them a chance to respond and ask some hard questions, but apparently that’s a situation she’d rather avoid (not surprising given that her own staff said calls and emails from constituents ran overwhelmingly against the bill).

So I read her column with great interest, since I was one of many people she represents who contacted her last fall urging her to vote no on the bill. If she were to hold any town hall meetings in 2018 (don’t hold your breath), here’s what I would ask her:

You claim the tax bill will “help lower-income and middle-income families keep more of their hard-earned money.” Can you explain why the provisions directly benefiting families and individuals would all expire after 2025, except for one provision that would raise their taxes? Why don’t the provisions benefiting large, highly profitable corporations like Citibank or Google expire?

Why do so many independent economists and tax policy analysts (such as the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy) say overall the bill primarily benefits high-income households and investors while raising taxes on many low and middle income working Americans? Are they really all just “liberal activists” spreading misinformation?

Why was the bill rushed through Congress so quickly? Many of the Senators who voted on the final bill hadn’t even had a chance to read it—Senator Tester of Montana, for example, said he was handed a 479-page bill with illegible handwritten revisions scribbled on it just a few hours before the vote. Senator King said the same thing, and so did Senator Warren. With such an important piece of legislation, why didn’t the Senate leadership at least give the folks voting on it a chance to look at it carefully? Why not let the citizens see it and have an opportunity to provide input?

It’s obvious that as a Republican you were under enormous pressure to pass this legislation after the failure to repeal the ACA last summer. Your own Republican colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham, admitted publicly that if the tax bill were to fail “the financial contributions will stop” and many incumbents would lose in 2018. Another Republican House member said off the record that big donors told him either pass the bill or don’t ever call us again. Representative Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) also said he was under pressure from donors to pass the bill.

Do you think by supporting this bill you’ve served the interests of hard-working lower and middle class people struggling to get by, who are the vast majority of people you represent, or are you serving a small handful of wealthy donors intent on having a government that helps them accumulate even more wealth?

Finally, Senator Collins, do you really think the Mainers you betrayed are going to support you in 2020?

Ed Geis




Loss of the PopTech conference

Not only was I saddened but deeply concerned about the implications of the loss by Camden Opera House and the town of Camden of the PopTech conference business to Point Lookout.

Not just the town of Camden, but The Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce must do everything possible with attractive incentives to re-contract with PopTech that the internationally renown conference return to using the town facilities, its many retail and hospitality businesses and the Camden Opera House. Point Lookout as a conference venue will become a formidable competitor if we allow it. A certain limited notion of convenience and one attractive vista may be promoted to any conference planning group in order to secure a contract for all conference, food and hospitality services to maintain and increase conference attendees.

In light of this challenge all member towns of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce must commit to a long-term, consistent, well-organized, professional conference development effort to outreach, market and inform more potential conferences to use the businesses, facilities, services and venues of the Midcoast, including the opera house.

We offer to conference planners and attendees more than a hotel or conference facility experience. We offer an expanded and truly unique conference experience with multiple vistas (rather than one), many attractions, a diverse selection of food establishments, and accommodation services with a broad price range. The conference business is not just an off-shoot of the Camden Opera House. It is a business for the region that includes Camden and its neighboring towns.

Please think creatively, with an attitude of entrepreneurship, and with long-term vision. A strong commitment to build more conference business opportunities for the opera house, other venues, local businesses and attractions will spur new creative and economic development. We have already seen proof of this phenomena in what has emerged from the Camden Conference, and CIFF, both of which have seeded additional economic growth.

Penny Dunning