LePage doesn’t care what we think about the asset test, so why is he even asking us?

As I sat down to write this post, still wondering what tact to take, the DJ ended a commercial break on WKIT with the Rolling Stones song, “You can’t always get what you want.” Right away I knew what to say. Most people are familiar with the chorus:

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

But let’s reverse it for the governor because what he needs is to accept that he can’t always get what he wants, especially when what he wants just isn’t supported by facts or reason. His insistence on getting what he wants is starting to get costly and undermines the vision of efficient government he so likes to tout as a former businessman.

There’s the Land for Maine Future Program and the county jail system/State Corrections Board in veritable ruins. And of course there’s what seems to be Gov. Paul LePage’s biggest pet peeve, the social safety net. Oops, I’m sorry, I think newspapers and legislators are his biggest pet peeves, closely followed by the social safety net.

His hatred for the media must be keeping him from following the actual news because most of us Mainers are concerned about our neighbors losing jobs in the recent flurry of announced mill closures. LePage, on the other hand, wants to prevent people from getting help to feed their families and wants to reinstate a food stamps asset requirement most states eliminated because of regressiveness and costliness. I don’t get what he’s thinking.

I don’t get the concept of a Republican wanting to grow the costs of government and limit the working poor’s ability to get ahead or hold on to hard-earned possessions during difficult financial times. Nor do I understand how the requirement will stop a tiny percentage of recipients from buying drugs with SNAP benefits. Nor do I understand why anyone, especially the administration, should regard the hearing Tuesday on the proposed change as just a formality.

That means no matter what evidence shows how costly, inefficient and regressive the requirement is, the administration is moving forward with what LePage wants. If that joke of a process doesn’t show that the governor is willing to put his wants over our needs, I don’t know what does.

Gov. Paul LePage addresses the audience during a town hall meeting Sept. 29 at Bucksport Middle School. (Ashley L. Conti | BDN)

Gov. Paul LePage addresses the audience during a town hall meeting Sept. 29 at Bucksport Middle School. (Ashley L. Conti | BDN)

Here’s how it will most likely play out: The LePage administration will ignore all reason and reinstate the requirement. Our legislature will revisit it (Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland, has proposed a bill) and hopefully find a way to strike it. If not, the requirement stands until the costs incurred grow to an extent that leadership can no longer ignore the problem, and it is otherwise stricken from the books.

In the interim, the lives of current recipients will be thrown into turmoil. Staff members at the Office of Family Independence will have more to administer and will make more mistakes. Mistakes with federal programs will mean paying penalties to the federal government. People will likely be denied benefits incorrectly, the court system will get involved, and again costs will grow.

Less Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will mean more volume at already overburdened food banks and fewer dollars supporting our grocery stores. Less SNAP will mean more hunger. All told, what the LePage administration wants is to pull our state in the wrong direction.

More than half of us didn’t get what we wanted when LePage got elected. Now what we need is a Legislature that either finds grounds to impeach this man or, at the absolute least, holds him in check for the next three years.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.