Librarian addresses Maine budget crunch:
McDaniel said she's "happy to pay those taxes" because the way she sees it, taxes are "like membership dues" for being a citizen of this great state.
She said that while she gets lots of things (education, health and safety, arts and recreation) in exchange for those "dues," she realizes "I may not personally benefit from everything that tax money is used for."
She has no problem with that. As McDaniel put it, "I try to trust that elected officials will spend money to the best benefit of society and not just to a handful of individuals."
Then, without missing a beat, she turned her attention to the budget.
She talked about how, over there, the budget contains $200 million in tax cuts -- including an expansion of the estate-tax exemption from $1 million to $2 million -- that largely would benefit Mainers who aren't exactly scraping to get by.
And how, over here, that loss of state revenue is more than offset by $413 million in various curtailments on benefits earned by retired state workers -- many of whom, like McDaniel has at King Middle for the past 11 years, served long and nobly in Maine's public schools.
Observed McDaniel, "I don't understand the rationale for this proposal."
She said she doesn't buy the idea that the tax cuts, putting significantly more money back into the pockets (or portfolios) of Maine's wealthy, will stimulate the economy.
Citing reports from the Congressional Budget Office, McDaniel said "the best way to stimulate the economy is to give modest increases to the poor. Wealthy people tend to hold on to their money, while poor people tend to spend it as they get it."
Then McDaniel, as those experts might say, "re-framed the issue."
"I don't think it's a moral decision, because taking money from people who don't have much money and giving it to people who have more money than the people you took it from seems, well, greedy," she said. "Greed is frowned upon in every major world religion -- and I don't think agnostics and atheists look too kindly upon it, either."
She wondered aloud, "Is this about a quid pro quo? A gift from elected officials to wealthy people who have donated, or will donate, to election and re-election campaigns?"
Finally, as the clock wound down, McDaniel dropped the hammer.
"It's not economically sound. It's not morally sound. And I think you know that," she said. "I would be embarrassed to support something so ludicrous -- taking from the poor to give to the rich.
"Maybe you're testing us, checking to see if we, your constituents, are really paying attention, really listening," she continued. "I hope that's what's going on, because the alternative involves me losing faith in representative government, in democracy and in you, the elected officials."
Not once did her voice waver.
Not once did she cross the line between on-point and off-the-wall.
And not once did she sound like she was feeling sorry for herself.
Brilliant lady! Glad she's on our side. :)