I missed an increase

I really wish this were an April Fool’s hoax, but instead it’s yet another cruel joke played on Maryland taxpayers who will now be forced to cough up over $3 billion a year to satisfy Martin O’Malley’s lust for spending.

Just this morning the taxpayer watchdog Change Maryland came out with its newly revised summary of O’Malley’s 37 – yes, 37 – tax and fee increases enacted during his tenure. Here’s the sad list.

[gview file=”http://monoblogue.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Tax-Fee-v.3-3.30.13.pdf”]

Needless to say, Change Maryland head Larry Hogan had some biting criticism of the recent O’Malley move:

The Governor calls it the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act that will create jobs, end road congestion and create a 21st Century Transportation Network. I call it the Highway Robbery Act of 2013 – the 36th consecutive O’Malley tax hike that takes us to $3 billion removed annually from struggling Maryland families and small businesses which will cost us even more businesses, jobs and taxpayers.

Our top elected officials went to great lengths to avoid news coverage of the overwhelmingly unpopular gas tax by scheduling key announcements, committee votes and floor action on evenings and late Friday afternoons. The Governor led wind energy activists in chanting ‘give wind a chance,’ while the vast majority of Marylanders wish he would just give taxpayers a chance instead. Our top elected officials don’t know it yet, but they are sealing the deal for a tax revolt in Maryland.

Preferably that revolt will occur at the 2014 ballot box as many members of the free-spending majority party are relegated to the ash heap of history, replaced by common-sense conservatives who will give taxpayers a break and restore the state to a more business-friendly posture to promote real growth.

But it can’t be denied that the O’Malley administration has been good for Change Maryland’s business, as they note:

Change Maryland now has almost 35,000 members and has grown by nearly 10,000 since the most recent tax-raising legislative session began less than 90 days ago.

Bear in mind it was just under a year ago they were celebrating 12,000. Perhaps in a year’s time the cake as originally frosted will be correct.

Placed in terms we all can understand, though, Martin O’Malley’s $3.1 billion of annual tax increases – and this doesn’t count other increases in federal and local spending put into place since 2007 – are costing each and every Maryland man, woman, and child, black, white, Latino, Asian, legal, illegal, or anchor baby about 10 bucks a week or $500 a year. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s one Shorebirds game a week I couldn’t buy a ticket to. For others, as a lump sum, it might be that weekend getaway to Ocean City they cherish. Still others may see it as not being able to treat themselves to Italian ice a couple times a week – the point is, somewhere along the line the state deemed it wasn’t our money anymore, it was theirs.

Certainly some would argue this is the government we duly elected, and supposedly they share the same priorities we do. But if these moves were so broadly popular, as Change Maryland points out, why were they made at the end of the work week or in late-night votes? What were they trying to hide?

Of course no one is volunteering to pay more taxes than they have to, but we’re smart enough to know that there is a certain amount we have to chip in to keep the state functional in doing that which they are charged to do. But somewhere along the line we have crossed from a government performing essential functions to one trying for cradle-to-grave control over our lives, and that to me is a bridge too far.

Harris withdraws from 1st CD debates

While Andy Harris was given the hugest of electoral breaks by the withdrawal of Democrat challenger Wendy Rosen – who, unless Maryland Democrats can pull a Robert Torricelli via the courts, will remain on the ballot despite dropping out – I believe he shouldn’t have pulled out of the various candidate debates.

My view is shared by Libertarian Muir Boda, who probably stood the most to gain by having yet another empty chair on the Democratic side. In a release, Boda noted:

After observing the withdrawal of Democrat Wendy Rosen from the race amid voter fraud allegations, I had not anticipated another action of disrespect to the voters in the 1st District. Congressman Harris’ actions are simply arrogant cowardice as he is obviously afraid to debate me.

Congressman Harris’ pulling out of all forums is a complete slap in the face to all the voters and the organizations that are taking their time to organize the forums by securing a place to have the forum, organizing resources to record the forums and to the those who desired to attend and to participate in the discussion of the future of country.

Congressman Harris has many questions to answer. For instance, we need an explanation on why, as a so called fiscal conservative he would support adding another $1 Trillion to our national debt. Or where does he really stand on the TSA, the Patriot Act and the NDAA.

I truly don’t think it’s fear of debating Muir on Andy’s part, but answering some of these questions Boda brings up would be helpful to me in understanding why Harris acted in a less conservative manner than normal – particularly on the continuing resolution vote.

Alan Girard of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which was a lead sponsor of the September 24 debate, had this to say as well:

We are disappointed voters won’t hear the views of candidates for Congress on “Farming and Protecting the Environment,” the topic of a scheduled debate we had planned with the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Salisbury University. Mr. Harris had agreed to participate in the Sept. 24 debate, but this week told us he is withdrawing from this and all other scheduled debates.

Without Mr. Harris’ participation, and uncertainty about other candidates’ participation, staging a debate seems unproductive, and we are announcing the cancellation of the debate which was to be held at Salisbury University. We apologize to voters who planned to attend.

We are pleased, however, that Mr. Harris has agreed to announce a schedule of public town meetings around the 1st District at which citizens can pose questions to the Congressman.

Let’s face it, though: I don’t think the CBF was going to do anything but sandbag Andy because they vehemently disagree with his balanced approach to environmental issues. If it were up to the most radical members of the CBF we’d all be forcably moved into tiny enclaves far away from the pristine waters at the mouth of the Susquehanna. Moreover, I couldn’t be there anyway to make sure people knew what really happened.

While I’m happy to see that Harris isn’t abandoning the public debate entirely, I believe he’s making a big mistake by canceling his participation in these debates and forums, unfriendly as the territory may be. Fairly or not, Andy has received a reputation of being callous and aloof (lifesaving traffic stops notwithstanding) and dropping out of these head-to-head contests only enhances the perception. Certainly Harris does his share of townhall-style events around the district during periods when Congress is out of session, but a compare-and-contrast was something he shouldn’t be afraid of in a district essentially drawn for him.

On the other hand, I learned via Duke Brooks that Delaware voters will be treated to not one, not two, but ten (!) debates between U.S. Senator Tom Carper and Republican challenger Kevin Wade. (Note to Ben Cardin: the ante has been upped.) Of course, the devil is in the details but Delaware voters will certainly have ample opportunity to get a picture of where the two hopefuls (and whatever minor party candidates are invited to participate) stand on issues near and dear to Delaware voters. It may not be Lincoln v. Douglas but they will be better served by the opportunity to attend in person.

Friday night videos – episode 34

This oughta be an interesting one, kids. Let’s see what trouble I can dredge up this weekend as we ease into summer.

I’ll begin with an issue which is sure to be contentious this summer – the lack of fiscal responsibility in Washington, D.C. The group is called “Bankrupting America” and the process of doing so is what Congress seems to be ignoring in favor of these pressing issues detailed. Call it fiddling while Rome burns.

But Newt Gingrich has some solutions to what ails us, does he not? Or is he just pimping his new book? You decide.

Yet there are others profiting on the other side. We had no idea public service could be so, well, self-serving. Check this out from Americans for Limited Government.

Then again, there are many in Maryland who would be happy just to have a job. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have a very business-friendly government as Americans for Prosperity points out.

Yeah, we lost that fight. But another is brewing over illegal immigration. As one example, check out the Center for Individual Freedom’s take on the Arizona immigration law, SB1070.

Yet illegal immigration is a battleground for Maryland voters as well, as a 17 year old videographer suggests by her coverage of a rally of those who want the borders secured.

This time I’m going to wrap up, not with a song, but with a video Bob McCarty (a veteran himself) did about the preparations for Memorial Day at a cemetery not far from his Missouri home.

As for me, I’ll probably be at the Wicomico County observance Monday morning. Hopefully neither our aging veterans (nor the JROTC regulars who tend the flags) won’t wilt in the predicted heat.

With that, I’ll be back with more videos in a week or so.