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Kit St. John

In Both Egypt and Maine, Jobs Underpin Politics

I drive a lot, and if there’s one thing that keeps me from going crazy with boredom in the car, it’s listening to public radio. Today, the two big stories are about President Mubarak finally ceding power in Egypt and, here at home, LePage’s budget proposal. It’s hard to grasp the truly historic events in Egypt, especially while looking out at our quiet, snow-covered state from the Turnpike. Nevertheless, there is a common thread in both stories: stubborn economic problems and joblessness, not just here in the US, but around the world.

Governor Paul LePage presented his two year budget yesterday, and managed to raise a lot of eyebrows with something that is normally a routine, if weighty, announcement. In the words of one experienced observer, "to add to our $840 million shortfall by extending additional tax cuts to, at least in part, some of the most well-off people in our state at the same time as taking away benefits from some of the most vulnerable households in the state is just a bad policy choice," said Kit St. John of the Maine Center for Economic Policy. "It doesn't add up. It doesn't make sense."

The biggest head-scratcher from LePage yesterday? How he could deliver a speech that focused on scapegoating immigrants and the poor, and then claim that he was outlining a "jobs bill." Read more »

No Easy Choices on Budget

A good summary of the new budget outlook:

No easy choices here. Most agree there will have to be big cuts to important programs as well as tax increases. Turns out the federal stimulus money didn't actually solve all our problems.