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On the Issues
Click on the issues to the left and below to view more information on Mike's positions on issues that are important to Maine and his work in Congress.
American families and small businesses balance their budgets and Mike feels strongly that the federal government needs to do the same, believing that deficit reduction must be a top priority for the Congress and for the Administration.
Mike has been a strong supporter of Maine farmers in Congress. Maine farmers are the stewards of more than one million acres and have developed a diverse agricultural industry with over a billion dollar impact on Maine’s economy. Potatoes are the top agricultural commodity in Maine, our state is the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world, and we rank second for maple syrup.
Although some indicators suggest the economy is improving, economic relief remains elusive for many Mainers. That’s why Mike has repeatedly called on the President and the Congress to push smart policies that center on job creation. He's working to push new ideas to create jobs, support Maine's industries, invest in transportation infrastructure and clean energy, help small businesses and manufacturers succeed, and reform Wall Street and oppose bailouts.
Mike believes that every child should have the opportunity to receive a high quality education, regardless of their background or financial situation. This includes strong childcare and preschool programs; challenging early, middle, and high school curriculums that prepare students to succeed; dynamic career and technical educations that provide skills needed in today's world; and affordable post-secondary education that maintains our nation's competiveness.
Mike has advocated for targeted relief to help Mainers deal with the increased price of fuel, and has continued to fight for domestic production and renewable fuels that will help our nation become more energy independent in the future while at the same time developing jobs here at home.
Mike first ran for the Maine Legislature after witnessing the harmful effects of pollution from the mill where he was working on the nearby Penobscot River. He remains committed to protecting the rivers, mountains, and coasts of Maine as well as the livelihoods of those that live along and among them. Mike believes that economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive, and that the best way to advance many environmental causes is to make sure that local communities, government, and business leaders remain strongly engaged.
Mike is dedicated to providing our veterans the respect and care that they deserve. In his first term, Mike became the only freshman in the 108th Congress (2003, 2004) to serve in a committee leadership position when he became the Ranking Member on the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Benefits. He was only the second freshman to serve in this position since 1957. In the 109th Congress (2005, 2006), Mike served as the Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health. In the 110th & 111th Congress (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010), Mike served as Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health. For the 112th Congress, Mike is the Ranking Member of the subcommittee.
Mike is committed to rebuilding Maine’s historic ground fisheries industry and has worked to push for long-term solutions that will ensure an efficient and sustainable industry for Maine’s coastal communities. He is also a champion of Maine’s lobster and shellfish, supporting critical research and assistance for the industry.
As a mill worker for 29 years at the Great Northern Paper Company, Mike knows the devastating effects that years of unfair trade has had on Maine and the nation as a whole. He believes we must find a way to promote fair labor and environmental standards abroad so that Americans can compete on a level playing field. In addition, he believes we must develop an entirely new trade model that is fair for workers everywhere. As co-founder and chairman of the House Trade Working Group in Congress, Mike is committed to leading the charge for fairer U.S. trade deals.
Mike believes improving health care is one of the most pressing issues facing our nation today, and he is committed to promoting a health care system with lower prices, better access, and full coverage. He has sponsored a number of bills that impact a wide variety of important health care issues, including disease prevention, public health efforts, expanded access to care, and increased access to affordable prescription drugs.
Throughout his public service, Mike has been a strong advocate for the rights of hard working families and communities. After high school graduation, Mike followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, gaining employment at the Great Northern Paper Company. He is a 29 year employee of GNP and is a member of the United Steelworkers of America. Mike continues to champion labor causes to ensure that Maine's many hard working families receive the respect, recognition and just compensation that they deserve.
Mike supports a strong national defense and has fought hard for Maine's shipyards in Portsmouth and Bath. He also helped to successfully create jobs and expand the workload of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) facility and the Maine Military Authority in Limestone. Mike believes that we must live up to our shared commitment to our nation’s service members while they are on active duty as well as when they come home and take off the uniform. While Mike supports a strong national defense and comprehensive homeland security efforts, he believes that diplomatic, economic, social, and cultural influences should be the fundamentals of our nation's international relations. The use of military force should always be the choice of last resort. In addition to a strong national defense, Mike supports the homeland security efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement, first responders and border security officers. He supported legislation that addresses criminal rehabilitation and hiring of additional law enforcement officers. He also has worked to continue and expand grant programs that ensure law enforcement is adequately equipped and state and local criminal justice programs are fully funded.
Small businesses are the backbone of our national and local economies. They are a source of innovation and are powered by the hard work and determination of millions of our citizens. In Maine, over 97 percent of the state's businesses are classified as small. As a former small business owner, Mike understands that our nation's entrepreneurs need access to affordable capitol, expanded options for health care, and policies that do not hurt their ability to grow and create jobs. Mike served on the House Small Business Committee for eight years and continues to work hard to make sure that Maine's small business voices are heard at the federal level. While the Recovery Act contained important tax benefits and increased lending opportunities, Mike believes that more needs to be done. He worked with his colleagues to pass a number of policies that would benefit small businesses, including eliminating Small Business Administration (SBA) loan fees and strengthening federal loan guarantees so that access to capital is more affordable and available.
High taxes place burdens on working families and small businesses. Mike has supported numerous measures that would increase fairness and reduce the tax burden on hard-working Mainers, including exemptions from the estate tax for small businesses and family farms. Mike has also supported permanent increases in the child tax credit, ending the marriage penalty, an acceleration of certain income tax reductions, an expansion of the 10% bracket, and increased expensing and bonus depreciation for businesses to encourage greater investment.
Mike's top priority is promoting policies that support a healthy economy and job creation. Since being elected to Congress, Mike has been a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee because of the important role the committee plays in our economy.
Thousands of Mainers depend on Social Security and Medicare, and Mike believes that we must do everything we can to protect these programs and the important benefits that our seniors enjoy. He continues to oppose efforts to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher program. He has made issues important to Maine seniors a top priority, including protecting Medicare and Social Security, making prescription drugs more affordable, and promoting consumer protections.