Thank you for finding your way to my campaign exploration fundraising page. I'm Nat Hewett. I grew up in Raymond and Holden, Maine, the son of a father who dedicated his life to bettering the state of Maine by creating jobs and developing people and a mother who is dedicated to growing business activity in the small town for which she consults. My parents instilled in me the Maine values of working hard, making a difference, and maintaining integrity in everything that you do.
Consequently, I cannot sit idly by as Susan Collins neglects her commitment not just to Maine values, but to the Maine people who voted her into the U.S. Senate four separate times. It's time for a change. It's time to return to Maine values in the US Senate. The Senate needs loud, passionate voices for the dwindling moderate wings of both of our parties and it's time for a fresh perspective on the moderate ideals that Maine voters expect and deserve from their Senator.
Two years into the Trump Administration, it is clear that our senior senator is a moderate Mainer no more. She is a right-wing Republican catering to the same electoral base that cheers the President's mocking of a sexual abuse survivor. She was a crucial vote in passing the Tax Reform bill that permanently slashed the corporate tax rate and generated billions of dollars for corporations while creating an unprecedented budget deficit and trying to fool people like you and me with a temporary personal tax cut.
Susan Collins likes to pay lip service to her more moderate leanings - yes. But the time for lip service is over. It is time for Maine people to have a US Senator that can once again bring the proud tradition of The Maine Way back to the Senate.
What is The Maine Way?
The Maine Way is Honest – you stand by the truth and own up to what you’ve done, even when it's hard. Brett Kavanaugh demonstrably lied to the Senate judiciary committee. Susan Collins committed to her constituents in September that Brett Kavanaugh being dishonest to the committee would be disqualifying. Susan Collins went back on her word.
The Maine Way is Tough - Politics is gritty work. Susan Collins gave her vote to Tax Reform in exchange for "guarantees" that the GOP would help shore up the exchanges within the Affordable Care Act. Those guarantees were nothing more than empty promises that have never been honored. Collins should have known better. But, too many times she has given her vote to the Republican right wing and gotten absolutely nothing in return.
The Maine Way is Fair - I was dealt a good hand to start life. My family worked hard to become comfortable, and with my parent's support -- along with my own work-study and summer jobs -- I left college without debt. 1 in 7 Mainers live below the poverty line. Common sense reforms to provide access to education and training opportunities while removing the shackles of crippling student loan debt are key to giving every young adult in our state and our country the same leg-up that I received.
The Maine Way is Decent - Disagreements happen. I have many wonderful friends on both the left and right side of the aisle with whom I disagree. We remain friends by maintaining our kindness, our empathy, and our desire to learn and understand the other's perspectives. In the US. Senate, we have reached a point where the loudest voice in the room takes the mic and shouts down any attempt at discussion or compromise. That's not how we treat each other - not in Maine - and we should hold our elected officials to that same bar.
The Maine Way is Compassionate – for people today and for generations to come. The Republican ruling class is mortgaging our future as well as the future of our children and grandchildren in order to line the pockets of corporations and their wealthy donors. Our national debt needs to be addressed to ensure that we will be able to care for our parents as they age and our children as they grow up while leaving a stable, sound economy for our grandchildren and beyond.
The Maine Way is The Way Life Should Be - Nothing I've written should be controversial to the Mainers reading this page. This is how each and every one of us was raised. We all get one life here on earth; let's make the most of it with those we have the privilege of sharing it with.
My childhood in Maine instilled the values of The Maine Way in me from a young age. I grew up and became the person I am today in our state. Let's get this out of the way up front - I've been away from Maine for a time. After my four years at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor (go Crusaders!), I attended college in Massachusetts and have spent the first seven years of my professional career in Boston and, most recently, Chicago. I have grown my career and gained exposure to the multitude of experiences our great country has to offer. But let's be clear, Maine is my home. Always has been - always will be.
It's time for me to serve the people of Maine and to shape sound public policy to create more opportunities for kids in Maine to build their lives in Maine. Our country needs more Maine families, and no parent should be forced to watch their children raise their grandchildren away from them because opportunity and prosperity are not available at home. Mainers are looking for a fair shake, not a handout. If I were your Senator, I would push for responsible fiscal policies that will stabilize our social safety net for those who are in times of need while addressing our ballooning national debt and the crisis it creates for future generations. I would work with my colleagues - at home and in Washington - to support innovation, entrepreneurship, and trade policies that will help grow the Maine economy and create new high paying jobs. It's time to create the same welcoming, inclusive spirit - the spirit embedded in the DNA of Mainers that allows us all to get along even when we disagree - in Washington, DC and the rest of our country. It's time to create change, and that change starts by electing a US Senator in 2020 who will stand up for the Maine Way.
Help me bring The Maine Way to Washington. Return Honesty, Toughness, Fairness, Decency and Compassion to a place in desperate need of it. Our Senior Senator has fallen well short of The Maine Way and it’s time for her to learn that Maine people won't stand for that. It's time for change; it’s time for a young, Maine Senator to bring The Maine Way to Washington, DC, the same way Margaret Chase Smith, Edmund Muskie, George Mitchell, and Bill Cohen did in their days. I will not let you down!
[Please note that pledges will be used for exploring the feasibility of candidacy. Once feasibility is ascertained, any funds would transfer to the established campaign.]
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November 29, 2018
If you follow me on Twitter (and if you don't - you should! I'm @nhewett), you've seen me taking some amount of umbrage at Senator Collins seemingly increasing use of the word "bipartisan." It's no surprise to anybody that the Senator is hoping to tack to the middle and reclaim some of her moderate credibility. But don't be fooled - her other actions (see her support for Thomas Farr) leave no doubt to where the Senator's loyalty lies. And this bill amounts to nothing more than putting a bandaid on an amputation of the Senator's own creation.
Senator Collins - working with her colleague Senator Cantwell (D-WA) - introduced a bill to preserve the current threshold for the medical expense deduction at $7,500 into the 2019 tax year. Without the bill, the deduction floor will increase to $10,000. I support the legislation and agree that we need to take steps to improve the affordability of healthcare for all Mainers. However, in today's political environment, this piece of bipartisan legislation is nothing more than a false attempt to appear concerned and moderate.
In Senator Collins's press release she highlights: "In Maine, 35,764 residents claimed this deduction in 2014, while 18,788 of these individuals reported an income of $50,000 or less." There are some other realities missing from this release. First, in order to claim this deduction, you have to itemize your taxes. The GOP Tax Bill in 2017 increased the Standard Deduction to a point where the low income families Senator Collins is purporting to help will be much less likely to itemize their deductions.
Estimates suggest about 2/3 of taxpayers who previously itemized will now take the standard deduction. Let's be generous and assume that the percentage of taxpayers who will be able to take advantage of the medical deduction is 1/2 of the 2014 number. In that case, Senator Collins is investing her time to serve fewer than 18,000 Maine constituents who have access to reliable healthcare and have been able to afford it to the point of still needing to file their tax return at the end of the year. If the 2/3’s number is correct, it’s fewer than 12,000 taxpayers.
There are more than 100,000 Mainers who lack access to health insurance altogether. We should ask Senator Collins what she is doing for these Mainers. Senator Collins voted to make permanent tax cuts for wealthy corporations to the tune of one-and-a-half trillion dollars. How many Maine families could we provide reliable access to healthcare for with just a small portion of that giveaway? Answer: even with just Maine’s share, we could more than cover all families without health insurance today and have money left over for tax cuts for the rest of us.
Don't fall for press releases claiming that this legislation will expand healthcare for Maine families. Senator Collins let her true colors be known when she cast a deciding vote for GOP tax cuts, permanently reducing the government's ability to invest in true, bipartisan healthcare reform that our country desperately needs.
November 15, 2018
In so many ways, Maine sets an example for the rest of our country. It is full of kind-hearted, hard-working people who work together to find solutions to difficult problems. And - despite the noise around ranked-choice voting in Maine's second district - Maine's election laws are no exception. Maine state law enables fair and full access to all of its citizens through practices of same-day voter registration, in-person absentee voting, and absentee-voting by mail without an excuse. This, coupled with the passion and knowledge of the Maine electorate, is reflected in Maine's turnout in elections. In 2016 Maine had the 6th highest election turnout in the country. The highest turnout east of the Mississippi.
In the rest of the country - this is not the case. After 2013, when the Roberts Court struck down key components of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (Shelby County v Holder), other states began building barriers between their citizens and the ability to vote. Ostensibly, these new policies were put in place to "protect the sanctity of elections from the risk of voter fraud," but rampant voter fraud is a myth. The facts do not back it up.
And 2020 may be our last chance to stop this trend.
Rest assured, as your Senator I will always focus on the interests of Maine. Securing consistent access to the polls in the rest of our country is paramount to the success of Maine's future. A world where minority rule is allowed anywhere will serve to deepen our political divisions and prevent our country - and as a result our state - from continued forward progress on the issues that truly matter.
To accomplish this, Democrats must secure the Senate and the White House in 2020. If that does not happen, I worry there will not be another chance in the next 20 years for intervention in states' flawed, disenfranchising electoral processes.
And so in 2020 we must vote. In Maine, we must vote as we always have - for the candidate who best represents the vision of Maine's future. In the rest of the country we will watch others vote in more difficult circumstances. They will suffer Secretaries of State closing polling places in minority neighborhoods and moving the only remaining location far away from public transportation. They will suffer calls from the bully pulpit of the White House suggesting that by voting you are putting yourself at risk of arrest. They will vote under these circumstances one last time in order to NEVER vote that way again.
With a Democratic House, Senate, and White House in 2020 - we could pass a reform to voting laws to require consistent precinct hours within a state. We could establish automatic registration when citizens receive their IDs. We could normalize the policy of election-day voter registration. We could create a standard of no-excuse, early/absentee voting to reduce lines, and enable people to vote at their own time in the comfort of their own home. And yes, we could require Secretaries of State to provide their data from previous elections to justify how their allocation of precious election resources are designed to ensure equal access to the polls.
Our current electoral system is unfair to so many, and Maine must once again lead by example. The American people deserve to have their voices heard - each and every one of them. In the very first Article of the Constitution our founders contemplated this crisis in writing that "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations." Our founders foresaw a world where federal intervention would be required to ensure the fairness and soundness of our elections, and that world has arrived.
November 12, 2018
I received a text over the weekend wondering why the site had gone temporarily quiet. It turns out I’ve been working on this piece on infrastructure which has required a bit of extra research and thought. We, as a country, need a holistic conversation about who is responsible for ensuring all Americans have access to safe, reliable infrastructure.
American infrastructure is in crisis. The disasters that make the news (the I-35 bridge collapse and the Flint, Michigan water supply tragedy are just two examples) - are symptoms of the overall deficiency of America’s infrastructure. And any person who aims to represent the more than 1.3 million Mainers who rely on our country’s infrastructure must be on the record with their plan to address the issue.
These five items must be at the core of any policy I will support:
1) The Right to Safe Infrastructure
Every Mainer deserves to live secure in the knowledge that the bridge they commute across every day is structurally sound. Every Maine family deserves to live secure in the knowledge that no upstream dam poses a risk to their home. Every Maine community deserves to trust that the water coming from their tap is clean, pure, and healthy. And every Maine family and company need reasonable access to the world and to goods that are manufactured elsewhere. That is not only the way life should be; it’s the way life must be.
Too often, politicians focus only on infrastructure projects that generate flashy headlines, and neglect projects that are needed to ensure the ongoing welfare of their citizens. The federal government must stop this. The federal government should grant money to states based on their need to address critical infrastructure gaps. States - to be eligible to receive these grants - must submit a plan detailing their needs and how the state will allocate funding and support to supplement federal investment.
This is not designed to be an ongoing solution. This program would be a one-time, use it or lose it opportunity for states to address current deficiencies. As is sound policy, the ongoing maintenance of non-deficient infrastructure shall continue to be the responsibility of the states themselves.
2) The Right to Broadband Access
Electricity - few envisioned a world where electric wires would span the nation connecting even those in the most remote of areas to our nation’s electric grid at a reasonable rate. And this had a profound impact on our public welfare as a nation.
Broadband internet access is now in a similar situation. As the Baby Boomer generation ages and millenials look for communities to start families, the future of work will include more and more remote work opportunities. In 2016, 43% of Americans worked remotely for at least some portion of their time. Capitalizing on this trend in rural America will both allow older generations to remain productive in the workforce for longer and will attract young families who aspire to the lifestyle of our country’s many wonderful small communities but desire the types of work often found only in our larger city centers.
The federal government must work with states to develop and fund plans designed to bring broadband internet services into every home in the country. The future of our communities and the ongoing competitiveness of our country demand it.
3) Generate Revenue Through an Increase of the Gas Tax
In points one and two, I’ve proposed two relatively expensive infrastructure proposals. Those of you following my website know how I feel about spending beyond our country’s means. While I believe that infrastructure investment is one of the best uses of borrowed money (as the productivity gains from the spending outpace the cost of the debt), there are additional revenue levers that our country must contemplate to pay for our infrastructure priorities.
The gas tax brings in more than $35 billion dollars of revenue annually, and has been pegged to a nominal amount set in 1993. The tax has not increased since that time, despite our renewed focus on the impact of CO2 emissions on climate change, the deteriorating state of our roads and bridges, or basic rates of inflation. While it would only be a start to raising the funds needed for the plans listed above, we should increase our nation’s gas tax from $0.184 per gallon to $.304 per gallon and peg that amount to an annual inflation index. This gas tax increase should be phased in over the course of a year at a rate of one cent a month to smooth the impact on consumers and commuters.
4) Increase the Use of Public-Private Partnerships
The Trump Administration is right on one dimension. Burdensome government regulation standing in the way of state-level, public-private infrastructure partnerships is a drag on our country’s ability to address the needs of its citizens. I firmly believe that environmental impact standards, property-owner rights, workplace safety, and user access must be dictated at a federal level to ensure the appropriate protections for both current and future generations of Americans. However, innovation happens in the private sector, and we must allow our state governments to work with private partners to create new ways to finance and build the infrastructure demanded by our local communities. Concepts like congestion pricing - being piloted in states like California and Colorado - allow access to all citizens while creating incremental revenue from those willing to pay more for a less congested commute.
The Trump Administration’s plan to centralize federal approvals for infrastructure proposals within one department is a good idea. Too often, promising infrastructure plans complete planning stages and get hung up in regulatory approvals. These delays often last into a new state administration with new priorities and ideas, leaving these thought-out initiatives scrapped and wasting both taxpayer and private initial investment. Creating a fast track for these proposals through the federal bureaucracy is imperative.
5) Prioritize Remaining Projects With A Clear, Consistent Framework
Let’s imagine for a moment that we’ve accomplished the first four items of this platform. We have reliably safe infrastructure nationwide, ubiquitous access to broadband fueling the growth of our rural economies, a gas tax that is bringing in additional billions of dollars annually to fund future investment, and a renewed focus on private sector engagement as a source of financing for future projects. Now what?
Once we’ve solved our current infrastructure crisis, ongoing investment at the federal level should follow a clear, consistent framework. Federal subsidies for future projects should be transferred to states that prove out that they are consistently funding maintenance of their existing infrastructure and have plans in place to finance replacements at expected end-of-life. When that criteria is met, however, federal funds should be allocated to projects on a consistent, reliable framework. A framework that maximizes the impact to local communities, minimizes environmental impact, and stretches the federal government’s dollar through matching state, municipal, and private investment. Breaking down the red tape and making it clear how the federal government will review and fund projects will allow for state and local leaders to more efficiently spend their time and resources on projects that will in the end receive necessary federal support.
To conclude, I believe it is critically important for us to solve the deficiencies of our current infrastructure first. That said, it would be irresponsible to stop the discussion there. Our country must also begin developing plans to invest in infrastructure innovations to remain competitive globally in the twenty-first century, and those investments will be the topic of a future article.
November 8, 2018
The response I’ve received to thinking about a political campaign has been overwhelmingly positive. I am fortunate to have such a supportive group of friends, colleagues, and family who are willing to join this idea I’m bouncing around. However, there have been some skeptics.
Young candidates face a common refrain from skeptics: they lack political experience. Not surprisingly, the average newly elected Senator is 55 years old. The average serving Senator is 62 years old. There are 9 Senators in their 80s. There are another 22 Senators in their 70s. The median Senator (technically an average of Claire McCaskill and Shelley Moore Capito) - if not in the Senate - would be eligible for Medicare and Social Security. Almost 60% of the U.S. population is younger than the youngest serving U.S. Senator. Political experience is not a bad thing - and the Senate has plenty of it. But, it bears a hidden cost.
The Hidden Cost of Political Experience is Generational Debt.
Ever wonder how our current Senators plan to pay for their tax cuts? In short - they don't. At least not with the money of their own generation. When Mitch McConnell talks about reducing Social Security and Medicare expenditures to offset the impact of Tax Reform on the federal deficit, he’s not talking about payouts to his contemporaries. The way to reduce the cost of Social Security and Medicare is not by reducing benefits for people drawing it today. Rather, he and his fellow Senators would reduce the amount of tax revenue that the government pays into the fund that maintains the program's stability for future generations, thus reducing payments to the echo boomers, millennials, etc. - the same future generations who some believe lack the experience to be in the room to call Senator McConnell’s bluff.
We should absolutely protect the benefits that our Senior Citizens have earned through lifetimes of contributions, but we need to ensure our leaders are being transparent and fair to the 60% of Americans who will eventually foot the bill.
Climate change is another example of this generational debt. No study or data point will convince our experienced Republicans in the Senate to take action. The concept of investing in research and innovation or adding regulations that may impact their wealthy corporate donors is anathema to their short-term political survival. And if you think they have compassion for future generations - look at their votes.
The highest-functioning teams - either in corporate America or in non-work settings - value diversity across multiple dimensions. Each dimension has a common goal: to bring in new perspectives and ideas. When a new hire joins a team, they have a chance to ‘poke holes.’ Find the things that have continued only because ‘that’s how it’s always been done’ and challenge them. Bring new ideas to the table while listening to the voices that have had similar ideas and discussed and tried them before. Learning from others’ experience, but bringing their own, unique, different perspective to the table.
Political experience is valuable. But we overvalue experience at our own peril. Welcoming the viewpoints of those who are most vested in the long-term future of our country and our planet is imperative. Our Senators are mortgaging the future of American growth and prosperity in the name of preserving their way of life for a few more years - and they're doing it without a voice in the room for those who will be left with the outcome.
I look forward to the opportunity to bring that voice into the political spectrum, and hope that you’ll be there providing input and support along the way.
November 6, 2018
Written quickly - please excuse any typos
This is a disappointing evening in the Senate. At this hour (around 10:30pm ET), it’s looking like the Senate will stay in Republican hands and the House will move to the Democrats. Let’s hope there’s a tide change in the next few hours, but at the end of the day, this is not the wave election that we were hoping for deep down returning the legislative branch fully to the Democratic party. There are some small pieces of good news. With House control still likely, the legislative branch can begin to exert some oversight upon the Executive and uncover the corruption that under the surface. And Beto O’Rourke may take us one step closer to being able to call Texas a purple state, which will have an important impact on our electoral college math for future elections.
But overall, tonight did not go the way democrats were hoping. On to the next one. Let’s take an early look at a few things that went wrong tonight so we can apply these learnings to 2020:
The Democrat Joes and the National Base -
Two states that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and have perceived economic improvement since. Joe Donnelly’s vote against Kavanaugh in the closing hours was brave (and right), but it cost him his job. Joe Manchin played politics. He waited until the vote was out of hand, and then closed his eyes and voted to confirm Kavanaugh. It was a meaningless vote after Collins floor speech secured 50 votes for the nominee. As a result of staying true to the wishes of his state, Joe Manchin will return to work in the Senate on January 3, 2019.
Republicans are never afraid to play the political game. Democrats will not be able to create change on a national level if it relies on litmus tests for each of its candidates - insisting that their candidates represent the party as opposed to the people that voted them into their office. In 2020 - democrats must nominate candidates who share the liberal ideology, but also are committed to representing the voice of the coalitions that vote them into office.
The Exit Polls and the One-Issue Race -
In the closing weeks, democrats stayed true to their key issue - Healthcare. And it was effective to a point. For the first time in many elections, the economy was not the most important issue to voters. 41% of voters stated that healthcare was their most important issue. However, immigration (23%), the economy (21%), and gun policy (11%) were issues 2-4 on voters’ minds. Your quick math isn’t wrong - 55% of voters cited policies that the Republicans can rally their base with.
Republicans divide and conquer to be “everything to everyone” within their base for every election. Donald Trump’s political rallies were targeted at stoking fear and rally the base who care about immigrants. The NRA continues to pour money in directing their members to Republican candidates. The candidates themselves can then talk to local issues and the benefits of the Trump economy. Regardless of your main issue, the Republicans make space under their tent and find a way to talk to you. Democrats must find a way to talk to voters and govern for voters who don’t connect to the party’s single most important issue.
The Consequence of an Correction to the Left -
Democrats relied on anger against Trump to fuel their Blue Wave - counting on a mass of independent voters to hold their nose and vote for a candidate campaigning on a more progressive platform. And it’s going to cost them. Voters vote for personal reasons first and foremost, and the swing so quickly to the left may have turned off voters who worry about democrats raising their taxes and governing for their extreme base in the same way that Republicans are catering to their extremes.
To win on the national level, democrats must rally and turn out independents. In order to do this, the democrats have to build a camp that caters not only to their base, but also to voters who want to reject the negative identity politics of the right, but also aren’t fully bought in to the implications of the democratic party’s more progressive leanings. Bring independents along and earn the right to govern with progressive policy instead of dictating platitudes and demanding every candidate fit within that structure. That is our path back to responsible, liberal ideals in action.
Donate today and that is the approach I will bring in 2020.
November 6, 2018
Need another reason to vote blue today? Never forget that there are real policy issues at stake! Read more on the federal deficit below:
We like to think of the polarization of America's political parties as a new phenomenon. And to a certain extent, that's true (however, don't get me started on how you can trace this same lineage of diametrically opposed parties back to the time of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson). However, even in recent memory, some aspects of our political discourse have lived in entrenched camps. The federal deficit is one of these ares.
Before we dive into why the bags under my eyes have grown darker recently, let's all get on the same page. And bear with me - we're getting just the tiniest bit technical. The federal deficit is the government's annual financial shortfall. If in a given year the federal government wants to spend four trillion dollars but only collects three trillion dollars in tax and other revenue, then that year's deficit is one trillion dollars. That trillion dollars gets added to our national debt. That is the money that our country has collectively borrowed over time from either other countries or private lenders. That number now sits right around twenty trillion dollars. And that is the amount that we have to pay to "service" each year by making nominal payments on the balance, but full payments on all of the interest that we're charged.
Now that we're speaking a common language - let's talk about the problems of forcing politicians into the camp of "deficit hawks" - who argue that all deficits are bad - and "deficit doves" - who argue that running a deficit is good governance. This polarization ignores the fact that there are many different kinds of debt. Let's look at three of them.
1) Deficit financing to drive future growth and productivity - the good use of debt. When there are periods where investment can help resources within an economy become more productively utilized, spending beyond your current means is imperative. The future productivity gains more than offset the short-term deficit and its interest expense. A great example of this is stimulus spending to bring an economy out of a recession.
2) Deficit financing to enable spending for something you need that you can't afford now - the necessary use of debt. There are times, both in government and in personal lives, that you're left in need of something to enable your wellbeing. Incurring debt to enable that one-time purchase allows you to access what you need while smoothing the cost over a longer period of time. War is the example here. In a time of international conflict, government must spend what it takes to win
3) Deficit financing to fund previous commitments - the bad use of debt. Every year when you hear about Congress passing a budget - they're not actually determining everything that our tax dollars will be spent on. There is a pool of money called "non-discretionary spending." It is money that goes to predetermined programs every year. Think Medicare, Social Security, and Veteran's Benefits. This borrowing doesn't stimulate growth, but rather maintains current productivity (by providing access to spending power that its recipients already had earned). This type of borrowing is what ultimately caused Greece's sovereign debt crisis.
Government deficits are good when they are used to put resources to work in the domestic economy that will be more productive than they would have been absent that government spending. Enough more productive that the growth caused by them offsets the "cost" (e.g. interest) of that borrowing. And here's why I'm having difficulty sleeping. The decision to deficit finance tax cuts at a time where we already have historically low unemployment is inherently inefficient. There's not a way to allocate the windfall that can put people to work enough more productively for us to drive incremental growth to pay for the deficit incurred.
During times of economic growth - government deficits should naturally trim, as tax revenues increase from a larger base of the economy, and government spending becomes less "productive" relative to the private sector. This allows the government to step in at times when the economy is doing less well and borrow to invest in putting people back to work. If we are running a one trillion dollar deficit in a time that the economy is already doing well - the government won't be in a position to put resources back to work if and when a downturn comes around. We must run tighter deficits in times of economic growth to enable the government to be ready to borrow and invest in the American people in times that the economy is not doing as well.
November 2, 2018
When Maine voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Mainer's will face choices beyond whether to re-elect Senator King and who should inherit the Blaine House. There are also 5 ballot questions voters will decide on. Four are relatively innocuous bond questions (seeking a collective $200M in new public debt to invest in public infrastructure and higher education). The remaining question - Question 1 - is a different animal.
Question 1 seeks to assess a 3.8% state income tax on income over $128,400 to create a trust fund that must be spent to provide Universal Home Care to Maine Seniors or those with disabilities. The initiative would raise $310 million dollars annually in incremental tax revenue. Providing an avenue for people to stay in their homes is a lofty endeavor; however, this ballot initiative has flaws on both sides that are being glossed over in its debate.
And those flaws bring to light some drawbacks of ballot initiatives in general. Here are three that I see:
1) Ballot initiatives become battles of special interests, not the people's interests.
The debate on Question 1 raised $3,000,000 - very little of which came from small or local donors. On the "Yes" side, the two largest donors were the Service Employers International Union - who is recognized as a constituent within the full text of the proposed legislation - and a Venture Capital firm based in Silicon Valley. The two contributed more than $600K to the campaign.
The "No" side is not any better. The two largest single donors are the Maine Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors - whose joint contributions total $165K. The cynic in me sees their incentive to oppose a measure aimed at keeping people in their homes.
2) Ballot initiatives force the debate to the media.
We deserve a thorough debate when earmarking hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money for a specific cause is on the table. That is not what we've gotten here. Instead we have a simplistic view of "we should provide access to home care" on the one side and "we can't afford a tax increase" on the other. Both sides may be right - but when the debate is limited to an up or down vote on a solution, the incentive is for each side to shout loudest rather than articulate why their outcome is preferable.
3) Ballot initiatives force a narrow solution on a broad problem.
Ballot initiatives are often the most prescriptive versions of legislative proposals. In this case, there is no discretion with how the pool of money is spent which will stamp out innovation within the space. Question 1 attempts to throw money at a problem and hope a solution unfolds rather than a plan to provide the best solution for the Mainers in need of this support. We need to set up initiatives that incentivize innovation and efficiency within the policy rather than writing a check to fund the solutions in-place today.
Question 1 is likely to pass in Maine, just as an earlier iteration with funding earmarked for education passed in 2016. The goals in both initiatives were laudable (quality education and improved access to in-home care), but we need to constantly be looking for better ways to provide social services to more people at a lower cost instead of settling for a bandaid that will become more burdensome over time as Maine - the oldest state in the country - continues to age and it's tax base becomes smaller.
October 30, 2018
The majority of articles I’ve reviewed analyzing the Senate's vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh - from outlets on both the right and the left - have centered on their treatment of Christine Blasey Ford’s credible testimony and the decision to side with Justice Kavanaugh’s accounting of the story. Regardless of where you come down on this matter (for the record, I believe the Senate erred in their advise and consent duty here) - what was more striking about the confirmation fight was the misrepresentation of the legal principles that underpin our country's judicial system.
"Moderate" Democrats and Republicans rightfully evaluated Justice Kavanaugh’s judicial credentials to determine whether or not so support the judge. These Senators cited multiple opinions he wrote and claimed that these decisions lent him centrist credibility. This centrist credibility apparently arose from the numerous occasions that Kavanaugh upheld precedent in his rulings and the fact that he and Justice Garland concurred more than 90% of the time on their decisions. So - nothing to see here. The judge believes in the concept of Stare Decisis (determining cases by precedent) and as a result all past court decisions will never be overturned. I feel better about women's rights and gay marriage already.
Except this interpretation of Kavanaugh’s record ignores how our judiciary works. As a Circuit Court judge, Kavanaugh’s job was to apply appropriate precedent and decide cases within the bounds of the Supreme Court’s previous decisions. In short - Kavanaugh was doing his job. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, is a different job. Its justices are accountable to their interpretation of the Constitution. Yes, there is some bias to upholding past precedent, particularly when it becomes ingrained within everyday case law; however, there are many examples of the Supreme Court overturning the rulings of earlier Courts.
The most famous of these decisions is Brown v. Board of Education, which effectively desegregated schools by overturning the precedent of “separate but equal” treatment for African Americans established in the earlier Plessy v. Ferguson decision. In Brown v Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that the earlier court had misapplied the concept of Equal Protection established in the 14th Amendment and overturned the earlier ruling.
These situations aren’t reserved for Civil Rights era cases though. Just this past session, the Roberts court overturned a 40-year precedent in the case Janus v. AFSCME. In abolishing a labor union’s ability to collect fees from non-union members, the Roberts court overturned the Burger Court’s interpretation - in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education - of the First Amendment. The Court’s conservative majority ruled that a previous, contemporary Court had fundamentally misapplied the First Amendment so egregiously that the ruling needed to be overturned.
Unfortunately, there's nothing left for us to do on this front for this nominee; however, we need to be well trained to press future nominees beyond their claim that a decision is "settled precedent," as it is the role of the Supreme Court to settle precedents, not rely on them.
October 29, 2018
Maine will pay off your student loans if you move to the state
That’s right - Maine will match every dollar you pay toward your student loans with a state income tax credit. Owe Maine $3000 in taxes this year? Not if you’ve paid off $3,000 or more in student loan debt! Then you owe nothing! It’s a program called the Education Opportunity Tax Credit and it is every bit as amazing as it sounds! It’s been around since 2009, but expanded to include students who attained degrees outside of the state of Maine starting with the class of 2015.
All you young people complaining about student loan debt - move to Maine!
Mary Mayhew tapped by President Trump to run Medicaid
Okay, your first response may have been “Mary May-who?!” and I don’t blame you, but this is important! Mary Mayhew was the former Maine Commissioner of Health and Human Services. More Mainers in the administration - good news, right? Wrong! Mayhew spent her time in Maine as Paul LePage’s deputy accountable for putting as many roadblocks as possible in the way of the state’s ACA-enabled Medicaid expansion. Mayhew’s policy position on healthcare access was so unpopular that she finished in third place in the 2018 gubernatorial race. Oh wait - in the 2018 Republican primary.
At least she’s not there to keep Mainers away from healthcare anymore *shrug*
Trump Administration sets its sights on Maine Lobster Industry
Chinese tariffs are hamstringing the Maine Lobster industry. In the past decade, exports of US lobster to China have skyrocketed to almost $150M - almost 50% of the total value of lobster exports! But now, the bureaucracy associated with collecting new tariffs upon arrival in China is pushing the time it takes to ship live lobsters on ice beyond the 60-hour transportation window for lobster to arrive alive and kicking. And nobody wants a dead, “Live Maine Lobster.” Chinese importers are buying from Canada. Making America Great Again indeed.
But hey - with all of this climate change, the lobsters are moving north to Canada anyways
Maine is a hell of a state, but it’s time for fresh leadership and a return to a collaborative spirit focused on identifying and solving the problems that Mainers are facing everyday. Join me in bringing The Maine Way to Washington. Pledge below.
October 25, 2018
For this to work - we all need to be in this together - and to all be in this together - we all need to have the same information. I'm committed to not hiding anything about my motivations for exploring this run or my positions on issues that matter to you. To that end, I want to share with anybody interested the verbatim text of the email I shared with my earliest supporters just a day ago. If you're reading this - now you're one of them. And I'm so glad you're here.
I hope this message finds you well and happy in life. I'm reaching out to share some concerns I've increasingly observed and share an idea I'm thinking about. To be blunt, the rise of nationalism and the polarization of our political parties is scary. Susan Collins, Maine's formerly moderate Republican Senator, has joined the chorus of support for the Trump administration's agenda, appeasing the right-wing Republican base and ignoring the moderate Mainers who put her in office.
I'm fortunate to have reasonably deep roots in the Political and Business communities of Maine - my father served as Angus King's Chief Operating Officer in the '90s and has built a career creating high quality jobs in the state. Watching his work, I envied and have tried to replicate his ability to work with anybody - never letting personal differences get in the way of finding and achieving shared objectives.
With that as context - I want to share the news with you that I am exploring a campaign to challenge Susan Collins in Maine's 2020 election.
Maine is unique in our political world. A true purple state, Maine is full of kind, hard-working, independent people who are looking for a fair shake and opportunities to better there lives through their own efforts. Mainers expect a leader who does things The Maine Way, bringing integrity and decency to the job. I believe there is a strong contingent of independents and moderates— disheartened by our current adversarial political environment and hopeful for a return to a world where our leaders protect the rights of citizens and collaborate to create economic opportunity - both for today and in the future. We need our leaders - now more than ever - to work together to find common ground and common purpose for all Mainers and all Americans.
Typically Senate candidates come with immense personal wealth. They fund their campaign through a loophole that allows them to lend their campaign unlimited sums of money. I have to try something different. I am seeing who among my friends and colleagues - and their friends and colleagues - share my concern.
And that's where I need your support - please visit my campaign at https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/388961/nathaniel-hewett
and help get this effort off the ground. There are many ways to help get this up and running. First is pledging support. Any amount would be greatly appreciated. CrowdPAC only processes pledges if there is enough support to actually make a run. Second is endorsing the campaign on CrowdPAC. Third, and most importantly, is sharing the campaign with your social networks. The site has a very easy "share" function for Facebook and Twitter, and putting your endorsement from the site as the message of your share would be helpful in getting the campaign off the ground.
If you are interested in learning more, getting involved in any future campaign efforts, or just having a discussion to catch-up - please don't hesitate to reach out. I'd love to hear from you!
Thank you for your friendship and support,
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