Maine gov apologizes for 'Gestapo' remark
July 9th, 2012
02:59 PM ET
11 months ago

Maine gov apologizes for 'Gestapo' remark

(CNN) – Maine Gov. Paul LePage apologized Monday for referring to the Internal Revenue Service as the "Gestapo" in his weekly radio address over the weekend.

"It was not my intent to insult anyone, especially the Jewish Community, or minimize the fact that millions of people were murdered," the Republican governor said in a statement.

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In a speech Saturday blasting the Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold President Barack Obama's health care reform, LePage directly addressed the high court's ruling of the law's penalty as a "tax."

He argued that Congress could now use its taxation power to "compel behavior or lack thereof," and asked what the government would do next: "More taxes if we don't drive Toyota Priuses or if we eat too much junk food or maybe even pea soup?"

He continued: "This decision has made America less free. We the people have been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo – the I.R.S."

LePage's office posted his prepared remarks on his website, which includes the sentence about the Gestapo. It also links to audio of the speech, but the link fails to connect to the actual clip.

In his apology Monday, he expressed concern that the controversy had overshadowed the original intent of his address.

"Clearly, what has happened is that the use of the word Gestapo has clouded my message," he said, saying the health care law "rations" care and could "negatively impact millions of Americans."

"We no longer are a free people. With every step that Obamacare moves forward, our individual freedoms are being stripped away by the Federal Government. This should anger all Americans," he said.

Democratic state lawmakers, seizing on the comments this weekend, had charged the governor with trivializing those who suffered under the Gestapo, the secret police force that operated under Nazi-controlled Germany.

House Democratic Leader Representative Emily Cain and Assistant Democratic Leader Senator Justin Alfond said the language was "intentionally offensive."

"This goes beyond political rhetoric," Cain said in a statement.

Her office added that LePage, who's known for making off-the-cuff statements in the past, read his speech from prepared remarks, and did not ad-lib the remark during his address.

"He was trying to pick a fight, he knew exactly what he was doing," Alfond told CNN, saying he was worried about how the comments may affect the state's reputation to outsiders.

"The governor should do something right for the wrong that he created."

LePage was elected in 2010 with tea party support. His office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

– CNN's Janet DiGiacomo, Steve Brusk and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Health care • Maine • Paul LePage • Supreme Court • Taxes
soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. NKBL

    LePage was elected in 2010 with tea party support.
    (nuff said)

    July 9, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. rexdogcanadien

    "All Things bright and beautiful: All creatures great and small", goes the song. "The rich man in his castle, The poor man at his gate. GOD made them high and lowly. He ordered their estate." We are all paid slaves (indentured servants) The rich man is our masters. We reside under his table, hoping lucky will send some crumbs our way. Yes, God ordered our estate. Be naive. Believe you are free. Thank your RICH oppressors for you daily bread.

    July 9, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Concerned4Fla

    I don't understand the people freaking out about healthcare reform. Yeah, the IRS will come after you...if you're a FREELOADER using the ER for your primary care! If you can afford insurance and you don't buy it, then those of us paying our premiums every month are paying for your freeloading ways. I for one am sick of paying for FREELOADERS!

    July 9, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. Mr. Moderate

    Congress has long been using tax policy to compel certain behaviors – home mortgage interest deduction anyone?

    July 9, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. CBR

    The Governor wrote it and read it. His associates probably read it and heard it. No one noticed that he word was offensive to EVERYONE including all people who suffered greatly during the Gestapo's reign of terror.

    This is not the first time that he has caused an uproar. May we suggest that he get some proof readers who are savvy enough to catch these remarks. May we also suggest that he start looking at things positively and find ways to make the laws work while he is pursuing changes. Now that would be new and different and might keep us all off his back.

    July 9, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Thinks2010

    I've been compelled to pay taxes to support U.S. participation in wars in which I think we had no business engaging as well as to support a bloated military industrial complex as well as taxes to subsidize big oil, but I have never found it necessary to call the IRS and its employees unsavory names simply because they are doing the difficult task of collecting taxes passed by our elected representatives and doing it well. As George Bush proved by failing to raise the funds to support the Iran and Afghanistan wars, Republicans and Tea Partisans don't mind big government for their pet projects but aren't prepared to pay for it and hypocritically criticize and hurl invective at those who responsibly attempt to raise the funds to support legislation (in all or at least in part). As much as the Republicans and Tea Partisans like to say they oppose big government, they sure are happy when they benefit from it (especially when they don't have to pay for it). Of course, if the tax is for something they don't support. they behave like nasty name-calling brats and bullies.

    July 9, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "It was not my intent to insult anyone,"

    Let's see...anyone want to help make a list of top 10 offensive and insulting analogies available in the universe? Now, hmmmmmm, where could we start?

    Godwin's Law just took a dump on this guy's face. Get rid of him ME and wake the frig up.

    July 9, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. John

    Correct me if I am wrong, but haven't taxes been used to encourage or discourage behavior for 100s of years by all types of political parties???

    This guy is an ignorant moron, but he clearly appeals to Republicans who are also ignorant morons.

    I know you tea bags will not bother looking at any facts or history and you will not even read this or the article or anything at all.

    July 9, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Peggy

    He is a Republican, is he not?

    July 9, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  10. Jim Hahn

    Amazingly insensitive and blatantly stupid about how our government works. This guy must have flunked civics.

    July 9, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. hjs3

    This guy has been one big gaffe since he took office...

    July 9, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. Jim Hahn

    I wish this idiot could be put in front of the man whose daughter had life saving brain surgery after this law made United Health Care cover the cost. Would he have the courage to tell this man that his daughter didn't deserve to live?

    July 9, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. Shawn

    He's not too far off.........I call the IRS much worse things than Gestapo.

    July 9, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  14. Obama 2012 - MOVE Forward America, NOT another round of DUBYA's FAILURES

    The problem that most Conservatives have with the SCOTUS ruling on the ACA is this... they don't get the ruling and don't accept it. Perhaps Roberts had a little more insight into the potential ramifications of a whole, or in-part rejection of the law and the mandate than we realize. Did it ever occur to the upset neocons that had the SCOTUS rejected the mandate, that every other Federal mandate would become suspect and subject to legal action. The Fed's ability to mandate anything, including taxes, tarif's and so on would be questionable.
    Get over it people... and calling the IRS the Gestapo is typical Grand Obstructionist Party response...

    July 9, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. wgf

    What angers me is not that I have lost the freedom to be uninsured, get sick, go bankrupt and die, but that it currently costs me 24K a year for my family to be insured.

    The GOP - the true death panel.

    July 9, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  16. malcolm Spence

    yeah he played the Nazi card. Everything their opponents do they brand as socialist, Nazis, whatever inappropriate slurs they can come up. Then claim the country is divided because of Obama, when in fact it is their inflammatory rhetoric.

    July 9, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. Pete

    Another teapublican caught with his foot in his mouth,its apparently clear these hypocrites shouldn't have had these positions in the first place.But blame a lot on new voters thinking since Pres.Obama was president everything was just fine.It couldn't be farther from the truth with the republican governors nationwide trying to destroy a once proud country at all costs to benefit their wealthy and corporate masters leaving their states residents standing in the cold..It'll come back to bite them in their political asses come election time when all these extremist governors will be shown the door,knowing well it'll take a democratic governor to get these states back on their feet again ..

    July 9, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  18. California

    The liberal racist are out in force today.

    July 9, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  19. Bill in Florida

    "It was not my intent to insult anyone, especially the Jewish Community, or minimize the fact that millions of people were murdered," the Republican governor said in a statement."

    In other words, he's a typical Republican who loves to use divisive terminology - except when people notice and he gets called out on it. Then the pseudo-denial and pseudo-apology.

    July 9, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. jake

    this guy is a moron gop stooge. do you buy a house without insurance? do you drive a auto without insurance? do you travel without insurance? would you vote a republican in for president? any yes anwser to these questions and you are an idiot too. stupid is what stupid does. and the gop are proving every day just how stupid they are. un-frigging believable. stupid stupid stupid stupid tea bagging republicans

    July 9, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  21. Grady

    you can bet your last dollar that this dipstick is in for an extensive audit...which may include anal probing!

    July 9, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Larry L

    @DC Johnny

    Ah, the lie that never gets old. Over and over again, we hear liberal drones repeat that the ACA only makes the system better by weeding out the freeloaders who go to the hospital and don't pay, thus accounting for our astronomical health care costs.

    If only this were true. It would mean that the new mandate/tax would only lead to LOWERED costs, right? Isn't that your assertion? Then explain how everyone's insurance has already risen substantially, with across the board double-digit increases coming forth in 2013?

    In as clear words as I can make it – How can our costs be going UP if all this law does is eliminate freeloaders?
    -----------------------------------------------------
    Since the programs haven't been implemented yet it's unlikely they could drive up costs. The programs were created because costs were rising. Another factor is "spin". Since the cost factor used is "projected over a ten year period" the first projection included two years with no costs. Starting now you'll have ten full years with services – but if you project out beyond ten years the costs will go down substantially. The preventive medicine initiatives, control of "best practices", the early treatment available, and the people paying premiums rather than using the E.R. will all contribute to the savings. Another important point is a look at what it would have cost if we'd continued 7-9% increases per year. The Republicans offer nothing except the same old line about the free market lowering the cost. Really? If you get crappy healthcare and die will you select another provider "next time"? Can people really judge the quality of healthcare? Now it's controlled by insurance companies. Do you trust them?

    July 9, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  23. CBR

    Political affiliation seems to matter these days.
    Republicans think they have to dis the healthcare bill even though many people have been helped by it. Instead of dissing it how about trying to make the bill better. Congress should be able to do it if they would work in a bipartisan manner.
    They also need to pass a jobs bill now. We cannot afford to wait until November. People need work now. The Republicans need to cometo the table and work to product a bill that is nonpartisan. They managed to do so for the transportation bill.

    This idea that leaders do not want to help re-elect President Obama is the dumbest excuse ever for failure to pass a bill to help millions of Americans. We all need to push our representatives to move forward now. Get over themselves and go to work as they were elected to do.

    July 9, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  24. Lisa P

    Actually, Governor, voter ID laws - which take away a citizen's right to vote on the flimsiest pretext - and untaxed "social interest charities" that serve as conduits for unlimited anonymous corporate political donations (sort of like the KKK, come to think of it) scare me a heck of a lot more than the Affordable Care Act. Funny that I don't hear you complaining about the real threats to America's freedom... guess your political and financial masters haven't given you the word to attack that yet.

    July 9, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  25. Larry L

    "More taxes if we don't drive Toyota Priuses or if we eat too much junk food or maybe even pea soup?"

    Here in Texas we're fat... really, really fat. Fat people have a lot more illnesses and drive the costs of healthcare tremendously – but we are also a national leader in uninsured citizens. To make that situation worse our Governor "Oops" Perry announced Texas won't participate in the healthcare law's provisions – like Maine and a bunch of the "red states". This means healthcare costs will continue to rise in Texas, many people will be uninsured, and Texas will sink ever-closer to being like our "small government role model" – Somalia.

    Our education scores are also dropping fast. We dropped from 24th to 47th under the leadership of Governor "Oops". We could hit the bottom soon if Mississippi just improves a little. That is unlikely since they are also a red state. So we're fat and stupid. Maybe that should be the motto on our 2012 license plates!

    July 9, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
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