AUGUSTA- Today, The Maine Heritage Policy Center released its latest piece of research, “The Top 10 Things Keeping Mainers Poor,” a comprehensive look at how government policy in Maine creates obstacles for low-income individuals and families.
Everyone, regardless of political views, agrees that Maine’s poverty rate is unacceptably high and that the lack adequate economic and educational opportunities for low-income Mainers is deeply concerning. Wages are low, educational outcomes are stagnating and taxes are high. Since the early 1990s, the percentage of Mainers living below the poverty line has risen dramatically.
Liberal groups, like the Maine People’s Alliance and the Maine Center for Economic Policy, advocate an expansion of welfare programs like MaineCare and more direct government aid to low-income families. Decades of welfare expansion, however, have taught us that vast government anti-poverty efforts are ineffective; they trap Mainers in dependency instead of giving them the temporary assistance they need to rejoin the workforce and achieve prosperity.
Too often, these liberals have succeeded in convincing thousands of Mainers that conservatives champion the interests of the elite and exploit or ignore the downtrodden and disadvantaged. Conservatives have not adequately articulated their ideas for lifting people out of poverty and helping them achieve success. As Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, noted last year, “Struggling Americans deserve a real competition of new ideas about how to fight poverty.”
Poverty is an issue that affects us all, whether we have experienced financial hardship or not. Low educational achievement, increased crime, and greater reliance on government assistance programs damage our economy and reduce prosperity for everyone.
In this report, The Maine Heritage Policy Center offers a bold plan to reinvigorate Maine’s economy and lift people out of poverty through the free market and limited government.
In fact, excessive government intervention and overregulation have contributed to poverty by increasing the cost of health insurance, child care and housing while reducing job opportunities and imposing high taxes on low-income families.
No single tax cut, reform bill, or regulatory change will be sufficient to reverse Maine’s trajectory from poverty to prosperity; only a sustained, coordinated and principled effort to reduce these obstacles and open doors of opportunity can lift Maine out of poverty.