Political analysts talk welfare reform & CD2 candidates

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Political analyst Ethan Strimling and former Republican House member Meredith Strang Burgess discuss the effects of Governor LePage's welfare reform on rural communities and the clash of ideals when it comes to immigration in the Second Congressional District race.

Samantha: We do have a lot to cover. First, we will start with Governor Lepage's changes for certain food stamp recipients. Now able-bodied recipients must look for work or volunteer. This could cause an issue in rural communities where there may be less opportunities available or longer distances to travel. Ethan I'll start with you, any potential problems?

Ethan: Certainly there are problems with this and this is what happens when you try to create a one size fits all policy for the entire state of Maine. We know folks in rural communities have to travel a lot further obviously to find job opportunities. They have to travel a lot further even to find volunteer opportunities. You have got to make sure when you are dealing with this that you are looking at this case by case by case. If the governor really wants to try and get people off welfare the answer is create jobs.

Samantha: Meredith, what is your reaction to Ethan saying create jobs not regulations?

Meredith: First of all, this is a federal law that has been in place for several years. It is only in the last few years that we did an exemption for the state of Maine. So it is really time we get back to that and then whether there is really any difference for rural communities versus any others. We need to remember we are talking about folks who have no dependents, they are not pregnant, and they are not disabled in any way. That number comes down to a pretty small number, you know 5,000 or 6,000 folks. Not only to be able to look at a job for at least 20 hours a week, but you can also volunteer.

Samantha: Another hot button issue is immigration. We saw this when eight immigrant children were placed in Maine last week. For Republican candidate Bruce Poliquin he says those children and those at the border should be returned home. On the other hand, Cain argues there needs to be a comprehensive reform that includes a path to citizenship. How does this issue play out on Main Street. Meredith I'll let you take this one.

Meredith: This is a very, very complicated issue that goes back in time as to why the regulations are what they are. When this all has really unfolded for the national media for all of us to really see, clearly everybody has a really strong compassion for these children. Bruce Poliquin has made that very clear. He is very compassionate and feels for the situation's importance and these kids. It is not necessarily their fight or their issue. However he does believe that we go through the official process.

Ethan: It is very hard to say that someone is being compassionate when they are saying these kids ought to be sent back home. These are children. This is nobody's fault. This is certainly not their fault and for us to be saying, and Bruce Poliquin to be saying, we need to send them back. Ultimately, we need these kids to be safe and that's what Emily Cain has put first. These kids have to be safe. They have to be taken care of, it is good that they are being placed in safe homes. We aren't being antagonistic and in terms of the border kids that are already down there it is the same situation. Emily is clear about, we have to be compassionate, we have to be clear in what it is we are doing and we have to have a path that makes sense.

Samantha: Ethan, Meredith we are unfortunately out of time, but as always thank you for taking the time to enlighten us about what is going on and what to keep an eye on.


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