King thought Obama's proposed tax on millionaires to be "probably appropriate." He was dismayed by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's proposal for a 20-percent across-the-board personal income-tax cut. (He supports Obama for president.)
King didn't want a tax system that took away "the hope of getting rich" (he got rich through business ventures), but "we don't have to rig the system" for the wealthy. He said he's "not a redistributionist," but he believes in progressive taxation, not a flat tax, which would be a "gigantic tax cut for people at the top."
Noting that the Senate approves trade treaties with other countries, he said he would work to have the US become a better negotiator. He isn't for a "knee-jerk" immigration policy that "wants to expel everybody."
Although in his Bowdoin blogs he didn't delve into health-care policy, in the interview he said neither rising costs nor the need to "keep people well" — as opposed to fee-for-service "treating illness"— was addressed by the "insurance reform" of Obama's successful health-care bill.
(On Bowdoin's website there is a podcast of a 2010 lecture by King — just before the passage of the Affordable Care Act — on what he described as the nation's inferior, unfair, messy, cruel, and "unbelievably expensive" health-care non-system. There's also another lecture on states' rights: bowdoin.edu/podcasts/.)
King said the issue most important to him as a US senator would be "the operation of Congress itself." The economy, education, health care, the "shameful" national debt — these issues couldn't be dealt with, he said, until the institution is reformed.
How does he plan to do this? His response was vague. As an independent he would have, he said, a "critical" role in a divided Congress.
Campaign finance reform, however, might be part of the solution. King said Citizens United, the 2010 US Supreme Court decision allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of cash to influence political campaigns, was the "worst Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott" — the 1857 ruling supporting slavery.
The political world deeply wants to know not only how Angus King would vote on the issues, but also which party he would caucus with, and, especially, which party he would support for control of the Senate. He isn't saying.
But it's hardly surprising that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is already running ads against him.
Lance Tapley can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.Read Angus King's Bowdoin Sun blogs at bowdoindailysun.com/angus-king/.