All Maine Matters

July 2006



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Chandler Woodcock And The Campaign To Come
By John Frary

Senator Chandler Woodcock’s victory in the Republican primary election on June 13 will have a good deal to do with the fight about who has access the taxpayers’ wallets in this state.
Before considering this, let’s be clear on one point: all contestants in the general election in November agree that Maine’s taxpayers need relief.

Governor Baldacci and the Democrats boast that LD1 is a grand and glorious tax-cutting achievement. Few taxpayers seem convinced, and the governor has gone on to promise new measures to contain property tax increases.

Patty LaMarche, the Green Party candidate, calls the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights a cry of pain. Barbara Merrill, a former Democrat legislator running as an Independent, finds it convenient to blame both parties for “driving Maine taxpayers out of their homes.” The independent, Phillip Morris Napier, wants to abolish the income tax. David Jones, another Independent, supports the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights. Peter Mills, Woodcock’s leading rival in the primary, favors a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority in the legislature for any tax increase.

If you know of a candidate for the legislature that thinks Maine’s tax level is right where it should, send word. I’d happily drive all the way to Presque Isle or Lubec to gape at him—and I’ll throw in ten bucks for a ticket of admission.

There are three clear lessons here. First, if you think you are under-taxed, you are out of luck. You have no candidate in 2006. Second, when you hear screams and sobs about the dangers of tax limitations you should remind yourself that tax cuts or limitation are in the platform of every single contender for the governor’s office. Third, if Maine had tax limitations in place years ago, we would not be faced with the disastrous taxation that all now condemn.

Chandler Woodcock’s nomination gives Mainers the opportunity to vote for a candidate who is solidly committed to the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights. A candidate, in short, who believes that our state’s taxpayers are entitled to a say about how much of their incomes Augusta is allowed to spend.

Think about this half a minute: you may become witnesses to the birth of a whole new entitlement! A candidate who actually believes that take-home pay is not a “tax expenditure;” that your income is not an allowance granted to you by the government; that taxpayers might actually have needs of their own---other than chewing gum, cosmetics, ammo and beer.

Takes your breath away doesn’t it?

Seventy-five organizations of one kind and another have already declared their frantic opposition to the whole idea of the taxpayers interfering in the business of government—their business.

Over two thousand years ago, an obscure politician in the Roman Republic named Cassius Longinus provided us with a key tool of political evaluation: “Cui bono—to whose profit.”

These seventy-five organizations have numerous members who depend on the government for all or part of their incomes. They know the answer to cui bono? And so do you.

I am not arguing that these groups are totally unprincipled. Some of them have grand plans for improving your lives with your money. The Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights will give you a chance to approve of their projects. What can be wrong with that?
Mary Adams, Jack Wibby, Bill Becker of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, and other workers for the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights represent the interests of the taxpayers only. They represent no narrow interest groups. They stand to gain nothing more than any other taxpayers.

Chandler Woodcock knew that when he took a stand for the taxpayers that he was going to come under fire from these seventy-five organizations. They can’t spend money attacking him directly, but their attacks on the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights have no financial limits under Maine’s clean election laws. They will outspend Mary Adams’ coalition by a wide margin and Chandler Woodcock will catch plenty of indirect flak from them.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions on election day.

John Frary was born in Farmington, where he now resides. He graduated from U of M, Orono. He did graduate work in Political Science and in Ancient, Medieval, Byzantine and modern history at U of M., Rutgers and Princeton, completing his Masters degree along with all courses and examinations for the PhD. He worked in administration and as a professor of history and political science at Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ for 32 years. He is associate editor of The International Military Encyclopedia, has been assistant editor of Continuity: A Journal of History as well as editor and publisher The LU/English Newsletter. After returning to Maine he was chosen to be the conservative columnist for The Kennebec Journal and The Morning Sentinel. He was dismissed from this position in December for refusing to drop his criticism of the Dirigo Health Plan. He is currently chairman of the Franklin County Republican Committee.

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