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

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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.

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