Universal corruption in Maine — another referendum vote

By Paul Ackerman | Aug 16, 2018

As part of the unending quest by certain groups to drum Maine into another socialist paradise like Venezuela, Maine voters in November will again be faced with yet another misleadingly worded referendum. This one is given the "golly-gee-who-could-be-against-that" title of “Universal Home Care.”

Sounds appealing – "free” home care for the elderly and disabled? Think: “there but for the grace of God go I," or perhaps more simply put “Free? Yeah, I’m voting for it!” Reality check: neither is anything close to what is under the hood of this clunker.

Not that I want to make your eyes glaze over, but these out-of-state-funded citizens’ referendums have got to be eliminated. This one is a classic example of how irrelevant the legislative process is becoming when the vast financial resources of outside organizations can be used to finance signature gathering campaigns — disproportionately in the southern part of Maine — to foist these pie-in-the-sky ideologies on Maine.

For the reader who really wants to delve into the truth of what is in this referendum, you must read the 12-page PDF titled Home Care Services Chapter 1611 Universal Home Care.

It might also be categorized, among other travesties, as the back-door arrangement to push the 3.8 percent tax increase back onto some Mainers without any legislative recourse. It is a stunning example of political malfeasance.

Some highlights of this gem:

If you vote for this boondoggle, Maine will get a program estimated (and probably a conservative estimate) to raise taxes by $310 million each year. At least until a lot of those being taxed decide to move out of Maine. The federal contribution to this new social program? Zero dollars.

Who is being taxed to pay for this? Any Maine business or nonprofit (don’t hold your breath there; nonprofits will find a way around it) that has one Maine resident with a salary above $128,400 will be taxed 1.9 percent on anything above the $128,400, and must withhold another 1.9 percent from the employee’s wages.

Mainers with adjusted gross incomes above the $128,400 adjusted gross income level will be hit with an additional 3.8 percent tax. Couples filing joint returns at this level will be hit hard by it.

So, who controls the spending of all this tax money? The Legislature? No, not at all -- this shell game is going to be controlled essentially by the same groups that are pushing this referendum, through what is called the “Universal Home Care Trust Fund Board” of nine people.

Initially for 2019, the board would have three members appointed by the governor, and six appointed by the Legislature. Obviously a partisan gamble on the part of the proponents. But that all falls away in 2020, when the board is to be “privately elected by secret ballot.” However, the only ones eligible to vote in that secret ballot will not be the taxpayers paying for it, but the very parties with vested interests in holding the reins of power and money.

The eligible voters? The “care recipients,” plus their family members will elect three board members; companies that provide personal care through the program will elect three members; and the “care workers” will elect three board members.

So, at the least under this system, a majority of the board members (two thirds) would be “elected” by the very groups receiving the most financially from the system. And charitably speaking, the likelihood that “care recipients and family members” are going to have any clue as to what is going on, and how to add to the board governance process is shameful at best. They’ll be ruled by the other six.

If you are not flabbergasted by the overt conflict of interest in this proposition, you might rethink your value system. Just consider how big a bureaucracy is going to be needed to determine the validity of who is eligible to vote — or maybe they don’t really want us to know that?

Behind much of this egregious charade is a push to force home health care into the sphere of unionization, and provide more funding for the same unions to fund their political payoff campaigns. This is patently obvious when you read the PDF on the actual bill that the referendum tees up.

Once a person is deemed an “individual provider” under this system, they are automatically categorized as a state of Maine employee for collective bargaining purposes. Care workers who are employed by a “personal care company” may join — and likely will be pressured to — a “qualifying union,” even if the company is not unionized.

The estimated annual budget, which is 100 percent of the expected $310 million collected in new taxes, that this supposedly "independent" board would cheerfully allocate (largely to themselves, really) would dwarf most other state agencies. What could go possibly wrong with that?

Comments (4)
Posted by: ROBERT W. KNAPP | Aug 17, 2018 14:48

Maybe the outside activists will sponsor a referendum to require a voter I. D. in order to vote.



Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Aug 13, 2018 09:16

Why does the Village Soup allow Ecker's continuous demeaning, swearing comments to remain posted? (Thought this was a family-oriented online paper?)



Posted by: Edwin E Ecker | Aug 10, 2018 16:17

*



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Aug 09, 2018 14:48

A "socialist paradise like Venezuela?"  No, Paul, but I would like one like Sweden, Denmark, or any of the modern, "westernized" countries that make up Europe.  

Is it "free?"  Of course not.  Nothing is free, but it's about time this country returned to the economically rational tax system -of the fifties and sixties- that created the "great society" which the Republicans have been trying to tear down ever since, most obviously for the benefit of the fewest of Americans, the already rich.

And I like the way you falsely accuse this of being "another out-of-state funded “citizens’ referendums.”  That's the constant cry of conservatives, that Mainers couldn't possibly believe in anything so ridiculous as caring about each other rather than the richest of the rich.  Of course being a conservative you probably have the typical ideal of what being "rich" means."  

""On Thursday, House Republicans issued a fact sheet about their new tax cut plan that referred to Americans earning $450,000 a year as “low- and middle-income” — even though that income level would put those taxpayers in the top 0.5 percent of all individual Americans.  The median household income in the United States is $59,039, after all."

http://www.newsweek.com/tax-cuts-republicans-middle-class-trump-701094



"According to the Census ACS 1-year survey, the median household income for Maine was $53,079 in 2016, the latest figures available. Compared to the median US household income, Maine median household income is $4,538 lower."
Maine State Household Income | Department of Numbers
https://www.deptofnumbers.com/income/maine

So, I'm supposed to cry over someone who makes $128,400? Indeed.



And since when is letting the people decide on a referendum, whether of taxes of anything else, "political malfeasance?" Could a conservative display his contempt for the rule of the people any more plainly?

 

And although I'm not sure about the elective process for board members (which will be worked out through the usual legislative give and take) it may be well to remember that allowing "the very parties with vested interests in holding the reins of power and money" so much say is the way Republicans designed those regulatory agencies that ride herd on Wall Street. Just so you know, I don't like it there either.

 

(Dems tried to outlaw insider trading in congress but the Republicans trashed that regulation, too.  I wonder why.)

 

 

The rest is all fear mongering so typical of conservative shriekers and hair burners.  Naturally I have no problem with a union for care givers since I believe firmly that unions have their place in the political spectrum and are simply the only political power any working class person has.  Proof of that is how viciously conservatives attack them every time their oligarchic bosses whistle.



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