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Following a theme we recently heard from NJ Gov. Chris Christie, Maine's Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage tells the unemployed to "get off the couch." Of course, there are plenty of jobs out there - if you can work for minimum wage and only get 20 hours a week!
WASHINGTON -- At the Maine GOP convention on Sunday, Gov. Paul LePage (R) received an enthusiastic standing ovation from his fellow Republicans for saying that all able-bodied out-of-work Americans need to "get off the couch" and go find employment.
LePage called on the state legislature to pass structural changes to welfare, saying, "Maine's welfare program is cannibalizing the rest of state government. To all you able-bodied people out there: "Get off the couch and get yourself a job."
"I understand welfare because I lived it," he added. "I understand the difference between a want and a need. The Republican Party promised to bring welfare change. We must deliver on this promise."
LePage has been pushing so-called welfare reform for months, although Democrats have argued that his definition of the term is too broad, encompassing "everything from disability to MaineCare (Medicaid), which isn't welfare."
Mike Tipping, communications director for the Maine People's Alliance, said LePage's comments were "downright offensive to Maine people searching for work in a difficult economy, especially considering his embarrassing record of failing to invest in programs that create jobs and cutting assistance for the unemployed while at the same time giving massive new tax breaks to the wealthy."
Christine Hastedt, public policy director at Maine Equal Justice Partners, called them "a gross insult to working people who get up every day and become discouraged by the end of the day, because there's not a job for them."
"We talk to people every day," said Hastedt. "There are not enough jobs for the people who want them. There aren't enough hours in the jobs for people who need them. These are jobs that don't provide health care, and certainly don't provide child care. Those are services that people need to get even the jobs that they could get. Nevertheless, he's cutting those safety net benefits that make it possible for people to work."