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Political Brew analysts debate Ukraine, Pine Tree Power, and Biden budget

“All of a sudden we have all these Republicans supporting Putin."

MAINE, USA — The somewhat unexpected debate in the Maine House last week on a resolution over Ukraine and U.S. support in its battle against Russia was a puzzle for Political Brew analysts Phill Harriman and Betsy Sweet this week.

"It was like the world's upside down," Sweet said, referring to the sometimes intense debate and strong Republican opposition to the resolution in the House.

"All of a sudden, we have all these Republicans supporting Putin, and the interesting thing was the debate to have seemed national talking points …. and this very similar resolution happened last year, and only four people voted against it," Sweet added. "I don't know what happened between last year and this year that caused so many Republicans and one Democrat to move and not support it this time."

The opposition this time was primarily in the House, where a majority of Republican representatives opposed it. At the same time, the exact resolution was supported by most GOP members in the Senate, where it passed 27-4.

"I don't understand it, actually," Harriman said. "Maybe there's a request or demand of what's the end game. What's the finish line of what we are here to do, let's get it done. I think this protracted ongoing [war], surprise visit by Janet Yellin to get another billion dollars has people scratching their heads and wondering where this end is?" 

The two analysts took different views on a move by Pine Tree Power referendum supporters to pass a separate bill that would guarantee a 10 percent reduction in electric bills if the consumer-owned utility existed. Harriman suggested the bill isn't needed since the referendum vote is still eight months away.

Sweet said it's an attempt by supporters of the referendum to counter ads by the better-funded campaign against the proposal.

On national issues, Harriman, the Republican, and Sweet, the Democrat, opposed President Biden's proposed budget, which includes tax increases on higher-income taxpayers and corporations to help pay for a range of programs and try to begin deficit reduction.

"I think Americans, not Republicans or Democrats, but Americans, are asking their elected officials to do their job," Harriman said. "Sit down, hold hearings, take testimony, reach a compromise, and pass a budget, which hasn't happened for over a decade. They've done it through continuing resolutions or omnibus budget bills. The Legislative process in Washington is broken. We need to fix it."

"[The budget] is a total pivot from trickle-down economics," Sweet said. "Which gives lots of breaks to the top and [gave no] investment in middle-class working people. That's why this budget has changed completely. And taxes on people who make over $400,000, and their taxes have gone so far down, corporate taxes are the same thing, so it's a fundamental shift."

Both said if the Biden proposal forces House Republicans to produce their competing budget proposal, it will benefit the political process.

Harriman said it's time for Congress and the president to address the budget deficit and the national debt. Sweet said if the GOP opposes the president's budget, it needs to explain what programs it would cut.

Political Brew airs Sundays on NEWS CENTER Maine's Weekend Morning Report.

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