Ethan Strimling and Phil Harriman have made their predictions for what Mainers can expect locally and nationally in the coming year.
Phil Harriman (left) and Ethan Strimling of Agree to Disagree Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

Phil Harriman, a former town councilor and state senator from Yarmouth, is the founding partner of Lebel & Harriman, a financial services firm. Ethan Strimling, a former mayor and state senator from Portland, is the president of Swing Hard. Turn Left, which promotes progressive policy at the local, state and national levels.

Ethan: Too much going on this week to go with one topic. How about our first edition of “Smart! or Not Smart!” for 2023?

Phil: Good. Throw out a political act or possibility and I will tell you whether it is smart or dumber than dumb.

Ethan: Republicans in the U.S. House should shut down the government over the debt ceiling if they can’t get serious spending cuts. “Smart!” or “Not smart!”?

Phil: Not smart! This is money we have already borrowed because Congress prefers to bankrupt our future for their re-election today. The House Republicans must instead hold fast to their pledge to not allow any more omnibus bills. They must hold hearings and votes on where we spend money and hold firm there.

Ethan: For the long-term good of the country, I hope House Republicans fail to listen to you so the world sees how dysfunctional Republicans in D.C. truly are.

Phil: My turn. President Joe Biden appears to have forgotten a few classified documents. Obviously that was not smart, but then Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel. In your opinion, was that “smart!” or “not smart!”?

Ethan: “Smart!” I know some Democrats are mad because it makes it look like what Biden did is in the same league as what Donald Trump did, which, of course, it is not. But by appointing independent counsel, the GOP has not been able to scream that Biden is being treated differently.

Phil: Let’s just hope both investigations will be more fair and balanced than the mainstream media have been in covering these two stories, which are more similar than you want to accept.

Ethan: “Smart!” or “not smart!”? Maine Senate Republicans rolled over and passed the heating relief package they had opposed, with exactly zero changes, after nothing more than a hearing and a one-month delay of the checks people desperately needed.

Phil: “Not smart!” If you want to flex your muscle, flex it. If you don’t. Don’t. Back to you. A federal commissioner with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission  suggested that new gas stoves could be banned. “Smart” or “not smart”?

Ethan: A “smart” move for us to consider banning them, since these stoves are dangerous to the planet in the form of carbon emissions and dangerous to humans in the form of asthma and cancer. However, “not smart” in the way he said it. Any regulation like this would take years to go into effect and only after a lengthy public process. In the meantime, the Inflation Reduction Act has an $840 rebate to voluntarily replace that polluter in your kitchen.

Phil: How about enforcing the ban on fentanyl before regulators invade our kitchens to remove our gas stoves?

Ethan: OK, how about Gov. Janet Mills’ budget? Spends the surplus, but doesn’t raise taxes. Both sides get something. “Smart” or “not smart?”

Phil: By “surplus” I assume you mean the overpayment Mainer’s made to the government? How about taking that surplus and giving it back in the form of an exemption on the first $50,000 of income, without cutting any programs to keep Democrats happy? That would be smart! What Mills proposed? Not so much.

Ethan: Exempting the first $50,000 of income would be a huge boon to the wealthy, which is why the surplus should be used to give back to workers and their families in the form of reduced tuition, higher pay, lower property taxes, and lunch for kids. Smart!

Phil: Last one, “smart” or “not smart!” wearing L.L. Bean boots with a white suit to your inauguration?

Ethan: “Not smart!,” but only because Gov. Mills should have matched the boots with the classic plaid flannel red checkered shirt.