AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Governor Paul Le Page issued an apology for comments he made in a radio address where he compared the IRS to the Gestapo. The formal apology comes after a face to face meeting with leaders from Jewish groups Friday.
At a news conference about electronic monitoring for domestic violence offenders, the Governor refused to talk about the issue or what was discussed in the meeting. The controversy started last weekend when he described the IRS as the "new Gestapo' while criticizing the Affordable Care Act, recently upheld by the Supreme Court. LePage apologized in his weekly radio address which is scheduled to be broadcast Saturday.
LePage said, "The acts of the Holocaust were nothing short of horrific. Millions of innocent people were murdered and I apologize for my insensitivity to the word and the offense some took to my comparison of the IRS and the Gestapo. However, I want to make this very clear; it was never my intent to insult or to be hurtful to anyone, but rather express what can happen by overreaching government. I fear we have a federal government that is moving toward a socialistic state and we must not forget history because if we do we are bound to repeat it.'
LePage has made several blunt statement during his term as Governor, but the formal apology is a first.
Emily Chaleff, the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Alliance who met with LePage issued a statement Friday afternoon. She says the group welcomes and appreciates LePage's apology and she says it's clear the Governor regrets the pain his language caused.
To here the the audio of the weekly address click here:
Below is the transcript of the address:
Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.
The recent ruling from the Supreme Court has created a lack of clarity, confusion, and many governors are now contesting Obamacare.
What happened last week, as a result of my radio address, was intended to shed more light on the tenuous situation Maine is facing. Instead, one word halted the conversation and spurred a flurry of unintended consequences.
The acts of the Holocaust were nothing short of horrific. Millions of innocent people were murdered and I apologize for my insensitivity to the word and the offense some took to my comparison of the IRS and the Gestapo. However, I want to make this very clear; it was never my intent to insult or to be hurtful to anyone, but rather express what can happen by overreaching government. I fear we have a federal government that is moving toward a socialistic state and we must not forget history because if we do we are bound to repeat it.
This week, I met with Emily Chaleff, among others, to talk about my true intent of using the word. Emily is the Director of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine. We are looking forward to closure on the issue and recognize that through a healthy dialogue we can learn from this.
What we must focus on now is the health care crisis. Republican governors are not the only people expressing major concerns about Obamacare. This week, it was reported that at least seven Democrat governors are also uneasy with expanding their Medicaid programs.
Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer said, "Unlike the federal government, Montana can't just print money." Arkansas' Governor has said he is worried that there needs to be "state flexibility" in the future.
The real questions have yet to be answered by the Administration. In fact, on Wednesday Republican governors sent a letter to the President with 17 questions concerning how exchanges will be implemented. The National Governor's Association has sent a similar letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
In a letter to governors, Secretary Sebelius offered no answers. Rather she responded by saying a series of meetings will be held in cities across the country this summer. The federal government has had adequate time to come up with answers; the problem is there are none - at least none that will make the Administration look good or lower the high cost of health care.
The Obama administration wants to give states all the responsibility for running the exchanges without providing states any real authority for how to establish or administer them.
Our country is designed for states to be more than just an extension of the federal government, and states need more flexibility.
Expanding Medicaid at this time puts at risk the true safety net. Millions of seniors who rely on Medicaid for nursing care, millions of persons with intellectual and physical disabilities and millions of people with serious mental illness will be pit against childless adults with no barriers to work who decide to opt for taxpayer funded health care.
Seniors are facing $500 billion - yes, billion - in cuts already through Medicare thanks to Obamacare. Now states will have to pay providers even less since there is not enough money to care for everyone. It's a scary reality that we are moving toward a system that leads to rationed health care.
Experts say, by increasing the number of Medicaid enrollees, Obamacare will worsen the cost squeeze on primary care doctors. We have seen it in Maine where physicians are trying to keep a certain ratio of Medicaid/Medicare patients to those covered by private insurance. A lot of doctors have limited or turned away the number of people on government-run health care because they aren't getting paid.
Maine's dilemma is that we can't afford our welfare programs now. We already offer some of the most generous benefits in the country. To broaden the scope of benefits even more will not only break the bank, but it will hurt our economy. Someone is going to have to pay for this monster of government-run health care and it will be the taxpayer - our hard-working Mainers and business owners. We can't afford it and our economy can't either.
Americans should not be forced into something they don't want to do. These are not the sort of principles in which our nation was founded upon. If Obamacare is implemented no longer will we be known as the country where one is afforded the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Instead, that pursuit turns into a search for entitlements.