LePage's remarks about slashing regulations on development and supporting nuclear power led Mitchell to claim he would allow "a nuclear power plant on Popham Beach." Nuclear power is largely regulated by the feds, but LePage's attitude — he has attitudes instead of plans — seemingly accepts any development as a good development.

But he has several sound ideas. One is zero-based budgeting, also espoused by other candidates. He has excellent ideas about increasing citizen access to government information.

Although in his rhetoric LePage has taken advantage of the anger and envy that economically insecure people feel toward those who get welfare benefits, he wants to make it harder to cut people off from welfare when they work, to provide "a bridge to independence."

It's ironic that he's stirring up anger against welfare recipients. Marden's, the discount chain he runs, is one of the companies with the largest number of employees receiving government assistance (sixth in the state in Maine Care benefits). LePage apparently doesn't understand that one way to lower welfare costs is for the private sector to pay its workers adequately.

Mitchell's ideas

"Libby has no idea where the money is coming from" for her proposals, Cutler says.

That's not entirely true, but Mitchell represents the contradiction of business-friendly liberals. They want to put a program into every political pot, particularly if the pot is a Democratic constituency. But they rarely will consider raising taxes to pay for them.

In fact, as a good trickle-downer, Mitchell wants to cut income taxes on the well-off because, she says, many small-business owners are in the top bracket.

Then, in an interview, she adds: "I still believe in a progressive income tax."

But a progressive income tax is one in which the more you make the more you pay.

Her proposals are bedeviled by cost questions. She wants to expand the Seed Capital Investment Tax Credit, an income-tax offset for investors in start-up companies. This idea sounds reasonable as trickle-down goes, but she says by e-mail that "realistic cost cannot be determined without knowing how much investment the program will attract." But how can anyone judge an idea's value if you don't know its price?

She has, however, specific ideas to raise money. The Phoenix revealed five years ago that the state was losing hundreds of millions of dollars on Baldacci's and the Democratic legislature's 10-year lease of the state wholesale liquor franchise to a company represented by lobbyist Severin Beliveau, a big-time Democratic fundraiser. Mitchell says the lease's renegotiation could produce hundreds of millions in extra cash for the state. She wants this money to pay for her educational reforms. Good idea, but too bad about all that money lost. The mentally ill, the disabled, the sick, and the elderly could have used it. (See "How much will Baldacci's privatization of the wholesale liquor monopoly really cost the public?" by Lance Tapley, October 7, 2005.)


Moody's and Scott's ideas

Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott, minor independent candidates, have few concrete proposals. They don't have the political or life experience or intellectual network to have generated many. Their words are 98 percent rhetoric. They're presenting their personalities to the electorate, for obscure reasons.

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