White House issues report on its impact on Maine economy, rosy scenarios disputed

The White House issued a report touting President Trump’s economic record in Maine, but Democrats disagreed with its findings.The administration’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, overseen by Peter Navarro, issued the seven page document Thursday.“President Trump’s policies on taxes, deregulation, energy, trade, and defense spending really have helped the state of Maine weather this economic storm,” Navarro said in an interview with WMTW.At the core of the report is the argument that the average Maine resident has benefitted from Trump’s 2017 tax cuts.To support that claim, the report cites data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis showing a 25% rise in Maine’s median household income from $53,316 in 2017 to $66,546 in 2019.Navarro said, “Joe Biden wants to get rid of the tax cuts. They’re generally portrayed by the Democrat Party as tax cuts for the rich and Wall Street and all of that, but the reality, the way the tax cuts actually work is they help folks in the middle class and lower end of the income stream.”That was disputed by economist Lee Webb, a fellow at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center a nonpartisan, independent research and public service unit of the University of Maine, who also chairs the board of the Maine Center for Economic Policy. “The tax cuts have had very, very little impact on the average Mainer,” Webb said in an interview. “The first two years the benefits were primarily from Biden and Obama.”Webb pointed to MECEP data showing the top 1% of Maine income earners received $30,000 in financial benefits from the tax cuts, while the middle class, those Maine households earning $30,000 to $50,000 annually, received $610, and the bottom 25% received $40.The 2017 act also lowered the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%.Webb said, “It has been an enormous benefit to corporations and the stock market, but most people in Maine are not major investors in the stock market.”Maine’s Department of Administrative and Financial Services called the Federal Reserve data “not very reliable for state-level year over year comparisons.”DAFS Communication Director Kelsey Goldsmith said the U.S. Census Bureau advises using its American Community Survey for this type of comparison, and the survey showed no statistically significant difference in household income from 2017 to 2019.When adjusted for inflation, the ACS found the state’s median household income was $58,724 in 2017 and $58,924 in 2019, only a $200 increase.The White House report also touted the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a trade deal that took effect in July, for example, as expanding dairy farmers’ access to Canadian markets.Navarro said, “President Trump promised in 2016 he would renegotiate NAFTA, the worst trade deal we’ve ever had, and he did, and guess what? The dairy farmers in the state of Maine are going to benefit greatly from it.”However, Maine’s 200 active large dairy farms do not export much to Canada, said Maine Farm Bureau Executive Director Julie Ann Smith.The report said Maine loggers stand to gain when Canada slows exports of state-subsidized timber under USMCA, although data cited in a report footnote shows Canada is already Maine’s top forest product recipient, purchasing $346 million in goods last year, according to the Maine International Trade Center.The trade war with China has hurt Maine fishing and agricultural exports, with overseas lobster purchases having dropped 50%, and blueberry exports down as much as 90%.“The ripple effects of Trump’s trade war with China jeopardizes our industry,” said Lisa Hanscom, owner of a century-old blueberry farm in Roque Bluffs, as she introduced Jill Biden in her first campaign visit to Maine, in Orono, last month. “The export relationship our industry had forged over the past two decades have all but vanished due to the tariffs in American agricultural products,” Hanscom said.Webb said the trade war has also hurt Maine’s potato farmers.He said, “The West Coast potato producers, in Idaho, whose primary market had been China, they’re still producing potatoes, but they’re now selling into markets on the East Coast that our Maine potato farmers used to benefit from.”Navarro said Maine lobstermen will benefit from the European Union agreement, announced last month, to lift its tariffs on live and frozen lobster.He said, “It’s about what we’re going to for Maine’s future.”The White House report asserted its increased military spending has sustained the thousands of jobs at navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works and the government-owned Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, while sales of military equipment, such as the F-35 combat aircraft, to Belgium, Israel, Poland, Japan, and South Korea benefit engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, in North Berwick.Navrro added, “If we sell the F-35 to one of our strategic partners and allies, that’s less American boots on the ground.”After the coronavirus pandemic hit America, this summer, the administration entered into a $150 million contract with Abbott Labs, with plants in Scarborough and Westbrook, to produce rapid result coronavirus tests and has granted $125 million to Guilford-based coronavirus test swab maker Puritan Medical Products to construct two new factories in Pittsfield.Those expansions will create 2,000 new jobs in Maine.”The virus itself has given us 50,000 more unemployed than we had to start with,” Webb said. “Inaction on COVID has really had a devastating effect not only on our quality of life that we in Maine are living, but it’s had a devastating effect on our economy.” ###

The White House issued a report touting President Trump’s economic record in Maine, but Democrats disagreed with its findings.

The administration’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, overseen by Peter Navarro, issued the seven page document Thursday.

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“President Trump’s policies on taxes, deregulation, energy, trade, and defense spending really have helped the state of Maine weather this economic storm,” Navarro said in an interview with WMTW.

At the core of the report is the argument that the average Maine resident has benefitted from Trump’s 2017 tax cuts.

To support that claim, the report cites data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis showing a 25% rise in Maine’s median household income from $53,316 in 2017 to $66,546 in 2019.

Navarro said, “Joe Biden wants to get rid of the tax cuts. They’re generally portrayed by the Democrat Party as tax cuts for the rich and Wall Street and all of that, but the reality, the way the tax cuts actually work is they help folks in the middle class and lower end of the income stream.”

That was disputed by economist Lee Webb, a fellow at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center a nonpartisan, independent research and public service unit of the University of Maine, who also chairs the board of the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

“The tax cuts have had very, very little impact on the average Mainer,” Webb said in an interview. “The first two years the benefits were primarily from Biden and Obama.”

Webb pointed to MECEP data showing the top 1% of Maine income earners received $30,000 in financial benefits from the tax cuts, while the middle class, those Maine households earning $30,000 to $50,000 annually, received $610, and the bottom 25% received $40.

The 2017 act also lowered the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%.

Webb said, “It has been an enormous benefit to corporations and the stock market, but most people in Maine are not major investors in the stock market.”

Maine’s Department of Administrative and Financial Services called the Federal Reserve data “not very reliable for state-level year over year comparisons.”

DAFS Communication Director Kelsey Goldsmith said the U.S. Census Bureau advises using its American Community Survey for this type of comparison, and the survey showed no statistically significant difference in household income from 2017 to 2019.

When adjusted for inflation, the ACS found the state’s median household income was $58,724 in 2017 and $58,924 in 2019, only a $200 increase.

The White House report also touted the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a trade deal that took effect in July, for example, as expanding dairy farmers’ access to Canadian markets.

Navarro said, “President Trump promised in 2016 he would renegotiate NAFTA, the worst trade deal we’ve ever had, and he did, and guess what? The dairy farmers in the state of Maine are going to benefit greatly from it.”

However, Maine’s 200 active large dairy farms do not export much to Canada, said Maine Farm Bureau Executive Director Julie Ann Smith.

The report said Maine loggers stand to gain when Canada slows exports of state-subsidized timber under USMCA, although data cited in a report footnote shows Canada is already Maine’s top forest product recipient, purchasing $346 million in goods last year, according to the Maine International Trade Center.

The trade war with China has hurt Maine fishing and agricultural exports, with overseas lobster purchases having dropped 50%, and blueberry exports down as much as 90%.

“The ripple effects of Trump’s trade war with China jeopardizes our industry,” said Lisa Hanscom, owner of a century-old blueberry farm in Roque Bluffs, as she introduced Jill Biden in her first campaign visit to Maine, in Orono, last month.

“The export relationship our industry had forged over the past two decades have all but vanished due to the tariffs in American agricultural products,” Hanscom said.

Webb said the trade war has also hurt Maine’s potato farmers.

He said, “The West Coast potato producers, in Idaho, whose primary market had been China, they’re still producing potatoes, but they’re now selling into markets on the East Coast that our Maine potato farmers used to benefit from.”

Navarro said Maine lobstermen will benefit from the European Union agreement, announced last month, to lift its tariffs on live and frozen lobster.

He said, “It’s about what we’re going to for Maine’s future.”

The White House report asserted its increased military spending has sustained the thousands of jobs at navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works and the government-owned Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, while sales of military equipment, such as the

F-35 combat aircraft, to Belgium, Israel, Poland, Japan, and South Korea benefit engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, in North Berwick.

Navrro added, “If we sell the F-35 to one of our strategic partners and allies, that’s less American boots on the ground.”

After the coronavirus pandemic hit America, this summer, the administration entered into a $150 million contract with Abbott Labs, with plants in Scarborough and Westbrook, to produce rapid result coronavirus tests and has granted $125 million to Guilford-based coronavirus test swab maker Puritan Medical Products to construct two new factories in Pittsfield.

Those expansions will create 2,000 new jobs in Maine.

“The virus itself has given us 50,000 more unemployed than we had to start with,” Webb said. “Inaction on COVID has really had a devastating effect not only on our quality of life that we in Maine are living, but it’s had a devastating effect on our economy.”

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