Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage’s news conference meltdown on Friday demonstrates the pitfalls of the Tea Party’s no compromise approach to governing. The governor became unhinged on Friday after the legislature failed to support his proposal to push a constitutional amendment abolishing the state’s income tax.
To amend Maine’s Constitution, two-thirds of the legislature and a majority of Maine voters have to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment, in order for it to be added to the state’s constitution. LePage has been pushing for a constitutional amendment to abolish the state’s income tax, even though income tax receipts account for about half of the state’s revenue.
LePage’s plan however has met resistance in the Maine Legislature. On Friday, Governor LePage lost it, and he lashed out a Democrats for opposing his plan. In a news conference LePage threatened retaliation, arguing:
If the Democrats are going to disenfranchise the Maine people, then the governor of Maine is going to make sure that every bill that comes down from the House and the Senate with a Democrat sponsor will be required to have a two-thirds vote, because I’m going to veto every one, and I did a bunch this morning.
The Governor also singled out individual members of the legislature and leveled childish personal attacks against them. LePage remarked that Maine Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves “should go back home to where he was born” and that Democratic Senate Leader Justin Alfond “should be put in a playpen”.
LePage’s attempts to bully the legislature were met not with fear, but with derision instead. Democratic House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe blasted the governor, stating:
It’s clear that Democrats and Republicans are going to work together to override the vetoes of the governor when they don’t make sense or when they’re politically driven. The governor made a threat today as part of his becoming unhinged, unglued and just being completely angry. That’s not how you operate in divided government. That’s not how you get things done.
On Monday, the Bangor Daily News Editorial Board wrote a scathing editorial criticizing Governor LePage’s temper tantrum. They dismissed the governor’s as an ”embarrassing carnival barker” whose angry rants were not conducive to a functioning state government. While the newspaper was merely pointing out the obvious, it bears repeating. Tea Party politicians are effective at stoking the anger of voters to win elections, but they lack the temperament and the people skills to effectively govern. Paul LePage is a train wreck of a Governor, but since Maine voters elected him twice, there is no end in sight to the dysfunction he is bringing to state government.