Irony you can cut with a knife

After his lieutenant governor and heir apparent decided to skip a Maryland manufacturer’s meeting, the idea that Martin O’Malley would talk about job creation seems ludicrous at best. But that’s what he did in a press release last week, and Larry Hogan of Change Maryland – that jagged burr under O’Malley’s saddle – pounced on the irony:

Governor O’Malley finally recognizes – six years too late – the importance of manufacturing to our economy. But we wholeheartedly disagree about the solution. The O’Malley-Brown plan includes a whole lot of talk – more studies, commissions, roundtables, a monthly blog post, and even a proclamation – but no real solutions for an industry that has lost over 26,000 jobs since 2007, and has lost over 2,000 jobs between July and August of this year.

The O’Malley-Brown administration has been openly hostile to manufacturing and the private sector in this state since the day they were sworn into office. A monthly blog post isn’t going to reverse the troubling downward trend of manufacturing in our state. In fact, it is an insult to the thousands of middle-class workers and their families who have struggled to find employment and make ends meet because of the O’Malley-Brown misguided policies.

No amount of lip service can undo this Governor’s deplorable record on jobs. 120,000 more Marylanders remain unemployed since O’Malley took office, and 26,000 of those are in our manufacturing sector. It’s time we had a governor who will put action behind their words.

This manufacturing proclamation is just the latest stunt by this governor to hide his horrible jobs record. Last month, the governor made a ridiculous claim about recovering 100% of the jobs lost in the recession when in fact 120,000 more Marylanders are out of work today than when he first took office.

Will Larry Hogan make the bid to be that “governor who will put action behind their words”? Only time will tell, although some I talk to are dead certain he will get in.

But regardless of who’s installed as our state’s next chief executive – and no, Doug Gansler, I don’t necessarily believe it will be a Democrat – is going to have to clean up a failed state economy which has come to depend too much on federal dollars and employees who happen to live in Maryland. Onerous regulations, a poor educational system which doesn’t focus on students who may be better suited to skilled labor, and misplaced priorities in our transportation system have done their damage to Maryland’s manufacturing industry. While not all of these symptoms can be traced to Martin O’Malley, the prognosis is bleak if we get more of the same, and lip service from our current governor qualifies as being more of the same.

Yet the solutions advocated by the candidates – who seemed to be playing a game of who could lower the corporate tax the most, with the consensus range running from 5 to 6 percent – aren’t necessarily bold enough. Why not scrap the corporate tax altogether, as one economist suggested recently? And instead of wasting transportation money on rail lines few will ride (but many will subsidize), perhaps we should invest on the means to most efficiently move people and goods, partnering up with neighboring states as needed?

If Anthony Brown is elected as governor, that puny 106,000 or so manufacturing jobs might be 80,000 or less by the time the 2018 election rolls around. Those 26,000 people may well be sorry Doug Gansler was correct and a Democrat was sent yet again to Government House. It’s time for a change.