Political analysts and former state senators Ethan Strimling and Phil Harriman discuss New Year’s resolutions for state’s politicians.

Ethan: Besides resolving to disagree with me less, any New Year’s resolutions for 2015?

Phil: Instead of our own resolutions, how about we offer a few for our favorite politicians? Resolutions that might make 2015 a better year for Maine.

Ethan: Excellent. Let me start by offering one for Gov. Paul LePage: “I resolve to not veto 83 bills this year. I resolve to work hard to mold bills and compromise so that when bills reach my desk, I can live with them.”

Phil: You gotta give the man a few vetoes. He is the only thing standing between the Legislature and more intrusion in our lives. How about a dozen? That’s what Gov. Jock McKernan averaged. Now that he has a Republican-led Senate and better numbers in the House, that seems practical.

Ethan: OK (although he vetoed more than 20 even when Republicans ruled everything), but then I need to offer a resolution to Republican legislators for when he vetoes the 12 you have granted: “We resolve to not flip-flop almost 100 times, as we did last session. If we vote to enact a bill on Tuesday, we will not change our mind on Thursday just because we didn’t read the bill before we voted the first time.”

Phil: Oh, please. You get all hyperbolic when Republicans support their leader, but nary a word when Democrats did the same for Gov. John Baldacci.

Ethan: Except we didn’t. Baldacci actually worked with us and ended up vetoing very few bills. And when he did, very few Dems flip-flopped in response.

Phil: Here’s one for Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves: “I resolve to give the Republican minority more say in shaping bills. I will allow their voices full volume and their amendments equal opportunity on the floor.”

Ethan: I doubt we’ll have to worry about whether House Republicans will be at full volume with Minority Leader Ken Fredette at the helm, but I’ll offer your same resolution to Republican Senate President Michael Thibodeau: “I will not run roughshod over the Senate minority, no matter how insignificant their numbers.”

Phil: And one for Democratic Minority Leader Justin Alfond: “I resolve to support private-sector expansion. I misspoke when I said no job was better than a non-union job.” How about your own? Any resolutions for your side of the aisle in the state Legislature?

Ethan: Sure: “We Democrats resolve to keep our powder a little drier this session.” We seemed very quick to shoot from the hip in 2014 and condemn Republican proposals before the ink was dry. A lot of this stuff will die on the vine without all the partisan chest thumping.

Phil: Senate Republicans must remember how short-lived their last reign of power lasted (one term). To that end, here is my resolution for them: “We resolve to stay united. No editorials throwing the governor under the bus. No falling on our swords for bills that provoke referendum petitions. We are focused on long-term strategy, not short-term glory.”

Ethan: On the policy front, there is one issue I hope Democrats will find the resolve to resist: “We resolve to not support income tax cuts that favor the wealthy and make our tax code less progressive.” The widening income gap is getting beyond acceptable bounds and Democrats should not, as too many did in 2011 and 2013, support tax revisions that shift the burden to low- and middle-income families.

Phil: On this one we are going to agree to disagree. For the Republicans, repeat after me, “We resolve to finally reduce our income tax to a level that will make our state attractive to new investment and people who have changed residency.” This is probably the one issue that will do the most to help our state thrive economically in the long run.

Ethan: Let me offer a resolution to President Barack Obama: “I resolve to continue being resolute!” I am very encouraged by what I have seen from him in the final hours of 2014 with immigration reform, Cuba, corporate welfare and climate change. I can only hope he uses 2015 to keep pushing the envelope.

Phil: You do know that our constitution specifies three separate branches of government where each is designed to protect us from tyranny? It was designed for times just like this.

Ethan: Tyranny? If you think Obama’s executive orders equal tyranny, you must have thought Ronald Reagan was a despot! That dude had twice as many, including full amnesty for illegal immigrants, not simply work permits as Obama implemented.

Phil: Let me simply provide this resolution for our president: “I resolve to keep my promise on delivering the most open and transparent administration in history and to unite the country as outlined in my 2008 campaign for president.”

Ethan: I can agree with that. Just make sure you mention that second part to your Republican family in Congress.

Phil: For Republicans in Congress, I offer the same resolution I have offered for 20 years, “We resolve to balance the checkbook and start paying down our debts by stopping the earmarks and grants that only help your re-election prospects among special interests groups.”

Ethan: And to Democrats in Congress, I offer a resolution I wish they had taken two months ago, “We resolve to change our leadership.” When your leaders lose the majority, as both Harry and Nancy now have, it is time for new blood.

Phil: And for you, my brother from another mother, I offer: “Keep doing that good work you do at LearningWorks. You show both sides the best path to move people off of welfare and out of poverty.”

Ethan: And to you I offer, “Keep keeping Maine Republicans in check. Sadly, it is not your grandfather’s party anymore, but I am hopeful it is coming back to reasonable. And you have been instrumental in that movement.”

Phil Harriman is a former Republican state senator from Yarmouth. Ethan Strimling is a former Democratic state senator from Portland. They can be contacted on Facebook at Agree to Disagree or Twitter: @senpeh and @ethan6_2.

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