Whenever a government is controlled by a single party, it’s only a matter of time before abuses of power become the order of the day. We saw it when a Republican Congress teamed with President Bush to effect record spending increases, pass monstrous entitlement benefits, and slap more pork onto bills than you could at most rib diners. And it’s no different with Democrats, who are generally known as unapologetic tax-and-spenders.
So it was only a matter of time before first-term Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley would take advantage of his Democratic legislature and begin hiking taxes. Even I figured he’d wait a year before he started to trash the state’s economy, but hard charger that he is, I guess he’s decided to really get a jump on things. According to the Washington Post (which, incidentally, endorsed Republican incumbent Gov. Robert Ehrlich last year in an attempt to promote fiscal sanity in Maryland):
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) proposed increasing the state sales tax from 5 to 6 percent … and applying the levy to several services that are currently exempt, including health clubs, tanning salons and real estate property management.
Aides said that O’Malley’s proposal would generate $804 million a year, making it the largest component of a plan that he is rolling out over several days to bridge a looming $1.7 billion budget shortfall and raise nearly $400 million more for transportation projects.
Interesting, isn’t it, how so many politicians automatically decide to jump into our wallets for more of our money instead of actually cutting programs that aren’t even funded? What would you or I have to do if we bought a car on credit but realized we couldn’t afford to pay off the loan? Would it be legal for us to force our neighbors to pay for the car, or would we have to sell it to satisfy our fiscal obligation?
Even though Maryland faces a $1.7 billion budget shortfall, the state is still spending money it doesn’t have. And here’s the kicker: O’Malley and state Democrats claim there is a need to raise taxes, but they’re the ones who have increased the budget by $1.3 billion and erased a cash surplus left by the outgoing Ehrlich. No worries though, Gov — we taxpayers will just pretend you have no control over the budget and cover all your bills.
Despite hews and cries to the contrary, there’s actually an easy way for Gov. O’Malley to relieve taxpayers of the $400 million burden of his transportation projects — it’s called privatizing the bridges and roads. When I moved to Maryland in 1996, Democrat Parris Glendening was governor, a post he held until 2003. During his tenure the state sales tax remained constant at 5 percent, a rate that was upheld during Ehrlich’s administration from 2003 to 2007. So, congratulations, Mr. O’Malley. You’ll be the first governor in at least ten years to raise the sales tax, even though Maryland is the richest state in the country and filled with residents who hardly need to rely on the state for services. (Would it be too cynical to assume the governor is expanding state programs simply because he believes residents can afford to pay for them?)
Even more troubling is O’Malley’s plan to raise income taxes on families that make $200,000 per year or more, and on singles who make $150,000 or more. These exact figures weren’t specified in the Post’s report, but your intrepid freelancer caught the facts on the local TV news last week. During his press conference, O’Malley did his finest Julius Caesar/FDR impression by singing the praises of class warfare, where he essentially justified protection of the “poor” at the expense of the “rich.”
It is cle