Paul Lepage

WASHINGTON -- At the Maine GOP convention on Sunday, Gov. Paul LePage (R) received an enthusiastic standing ovation from his fellow Republicans for saying that all able-bodied out-of-work Americans need to "get off the couch" and go find employment.

LePage called on the state legislature to pass structural changes to welfare, saying, "Maine's welfare program is cannibalizing the rest of state government. To all you able-bodied people out there: Get off the couch and get yourself a job."

"I understand welfare because I lived it," he added. "I understand the difference between a want and a need. The Republican Party promised to bring welfare change. We must deliver on this promise."

LePage has been pushing so-called welfare reform for months, although Democrats have argued that his definition of the term is too broad, encompassing "everything from disability to MaineCare (Medicaid), which isn't welfare."

Mike Tipping, communications director for the Maine People's Alliance, said LePage's comments were "downright offensive to Maine people searching for work in a difficult economy, especially considering his embarrassing record of failing to invest in programs that create jobs and cutting assistance for the unemployed while at the same time giving massive new tax breaks to the wealthy."

Christine Hastedt, public policy director at Maine Equal Justice Partners, called them "a gross insult to working people who get up every day and become discouraged by the end of the day, because

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