Gov. Paul LePage on Social Security: “It is welfare, pure and simple”

Maine's Tea Party guv thinks Medicare is welfare, too

Published June 26, 2014 2:59PM (EDT)

  (AP/Robert F. Bukaty)
(AP/Robert F. Bukaty)

Responding to a Bureau of Economic Analysis study that found the state's personal-income growth during the first three months of 2014 to be well below the national and New England-area average, Tea Party hero and Maine Gov. Paul LePage released a memo of his own on Wednesday in which he claimed the BEA analysis to be flawed because it doesn't appreciate how Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are actually forms of welfare.

According to the BEA, Maine's personal-income growth for the first quarter of the year was around 0.5 percent, 39th in the nation and below the national rate of 0.8 percent. To a significant degree, the BEA blames Maine's underperformance on LePage's decision to refuse Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.

LePage defended his decision to deny healthcare to the tens of thousands who would be eligible under Obamacare's new standards by crunching some numbers of his own and determining that residents of Maine had actually seen their personal income grow by 0.8 percent, once one excludes income from rentals, dividends and interest as well as payments given to states by the federal government for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This is a better way to calculate persona-income growth than that used by the BEA, LePage argued, because the liberals at the BEA's chosen method is intended to hide the real costs of welfare from the American people.

“It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments," LePage is quoted saying in the statement, "it is welfare, pure and simple.” LePage went on to argue that "liberals from the White House all the way down to Democratic leadership in Augusta believe that redistribution of wealth – taking money from hard-working taxpayers and giving it to a growing number of welfare recipients – is personal income."

"It’s not," LePage declared. "It’s just more welfare expansion. Democrats can obfuscate the numbers any way they want. The fact is that we have created thousands of jobs, more Mainers are working, and their income is going up.”

In a later interview, LePage's spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, said that despite saying he considered Social Security and Medicare to be forms of welfare, the governor did not necessarily consider Social Security and Medicare to be forms of welfare. According to the Portland Herald Press, Bennett did not go into greater detail or respond to further requests for comment.

LePage is running for reelection this year and is currently slightly behind the Democratic Party nominee, Rep. Mike Michaud.

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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