MECEP’s Playground Politics


MECEP Playground PoliticsRemember that kid in elementary school you just couldn’t stand?  The one who did better than you in class, had more friends or got to sit with the popular group at lunchtime?

Not knowing how to handle our jealously, we might throw tantrums and call people names.  We were too juvenile to accept we weren’t Number-1 and too naïve to know it was inappropriate to behave that way.

Most of us grew out of that phase.  But the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) still has some maturing to do.

Last week, MHPC released a report titled Where the Money Is—The Fastest-Growing General Fund Programs in Maine Government, which reveals the 40 fastest-growing General Fund programs in the last ten years.  All data came directly from Maine’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review (OFPR).

Our report essentially duplicates a state-generated spreadsheet of spending—we just made it prettier and easier to use.

MECEP, which never met a spending increase it didn’t like, took issue with our re-reporting of this state data.  In a three-page attack, MECEP claims our study is “riddled with inaccuracy, distortion and deception.”  Never once does MECEP note that our data comes directly from government sources, and that attacks over any “inaccuracy” should target OFPR, if, in fact, there are any.

My favorite of MECEP’s assertions:

“Ignored [by MHPC] is the reality that Maine’s current budget challenges are the result of revenue collapse from the worst recession since the Great Depression, not from overspending.”

Does this imply that, instead of reducing spending to avoid one budget crisis after another, we should just wait until the economy rebounds on its own?  That sounds more like recess economics than responsible budgeting.

After we released our report on Maine’s welfare system, MECEP lobbed similar attacks, while also reaffirming its support of even more spending on programs that are failing Maine people.

MECEP is having trouble coping with its loss of influence.  When liberals controlled state government, MECEP calls for increased spending, higher taxes and more debt were gospel for big government politicians.  Now, the mood of Maine people has shifted away from MECEP’s big government philosophy in favor of the freedom and fiscal responsibility MHPC has advocated for eight years.

I can see why MECEP feels compelled to lash out with far-fetched attacks.  Its leadership probably feels the same way we did in elementary school when that Teacher’s Pet got another gold star.  Only this time, Maine people gave the gold star to the values of limited government and economic freedom.