Do Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins help their constituents in Maine or stick it to them by sticking with Mitch McConnell and the GOP?

Clear choices face the Senators from Maine – the so-called “moderates.” Maine is suffering economically. The economic recovery legislation can help Maine, but only if it passes. And, as we learned earlier today, “Republicans have become resolute in their opposition.”

NBC’s First Read
reports that both Snowe and Collins have meetings with Obama today.

The senators from Maine have a critical decision to make. They can side with Mainers or with McConnell and the GOP obstructionists:

The federal stimulus bill passed by the House would allocate $2.38 billion to Maine. About 10 percent of that would go to balance the state budget, with the rest going to infrastructure spending, safety-net programs, and tax cuts. Although the numbers in the Senate version of the bill are still in flux, the House plan included $190 million in school aid, including money to renovate or repair public school buildings; $434 million for Medicaid; and $9.2 million in worker retraining funds for the unemployed.

Which of these lifelines would senators Collins or Snowe decline in the names of their constituents?

Collins, a moderate who bucked the Democratic tide to win a third term in November, has been a point person in adjusting the House bill to make it more palatable to her Senate colleagues. In an interview yesterday, she said she hopes to get the bill into a shape she can support, but said that at present, “I think it’s bloated in programs that are not stimulative.”

We are sure there are some parts of a nearly $900 billion bill that could be trimmed, and Collins herself points to funds for cyber-security and to prepare for pandemic flu. And Collins does support aid to the states, safety-net programs such as increased unemployment benefits and food stamps, and money for special education. But she says the overall package should be closer to $650 billion. That’s a lot of foregone help for a desperate economy.

Collins is scheduled to meet with President Obama today and says she is “not drawing any hard lines.” That’s good. Fifty-thousand or more of her constituents are walking their own hard line: the unemployment line.

This is all great political theater for the GOP Senators. But, it’s real life for 50,000+ people in Maine.

Hat tip, KAS, for the link.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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