Lepage Tries Clarifying 47% Comment

Rob Poindexter

Updated 1 year ago

Governor LePage has been criticized for recently saying at a Falmouth fundraiser that 47 percent of able-bodied Mainers don’t work.

Thursday, he tried to clarify the remark, saying he was referring to the number of Mainers who are on welfare and that number he said was “48.4 percent.”

When asked to clarify that statement the governor referred reporters to his spokesperson, Adrienne Bennett who said 48.4 percent is the number of Mainers who are currently collecting benefits from programs like TANF (Temporary Assistance For Needy Families), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and Medicaid.

LePage once again told reporters that Maine has a large percentage of people who aren’t working.

“We don’t allow our kids to learn to work until they’re 16 which I think is another crime against society. We’re hurting our children. Then we have those we’ve taught, because we haven’t let them work and learn how to work they sit at home and they don’t work and they’re capable of working and I find that to be very sad,” LePage said.

Yesterday, in a story we aired from out Portland affiliate WMTW, journalist Paul Merrill dug a little deeper into LePage’s original comment:

“The governor’s office says he got 47 percent by totaling figures from a report by the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center but those numbers just don’t add up.

The statistics are from different years, involve percentages of households and individuals, don’t take into account overlap among the groups, and don’t account for the fact that many people on public assistance do work.

Dividing the total number of working Mainers by the state’s population also comes close to 47 percent but that would mean the governor is including infants and the elderly as “able-bodied people.”

The governor came under fire from critics, including his political rivals Democratic candidate mike Michaud and Independent Eliot Cutler, who called his 47 percent comment “inaccurate and offensive to Mainers.”


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