Bait and switch

That Governor of ours, he is a slick one.

After hearing from Martin O’Malley for several months before the General Assembly session that we should have a increase in the gasoline tax, the flush tax, or a host of other tax and fee increases, Governor O’Malley instead chimed in his support for the second sales tax increase of his tenure. Certainly we’re no stranger to sales tax increases as the tax on alcohol went up 50 percent last summer, from 6 cents per dollar to 9 cents. It’s almost like he floated the other ideas as trial balloons in order to make the “added flexibility” of a sales tax more palatable.

“I think we should remember that no one in our state lost their house, lost their job, or lost a business because of an additional penny on the sales tax,” O’Malley whined in speaking with reporters. Maybe he should come to Salisbury and ask local business owners about the effects of the sales tax when compared to tax-free Delaware. His assertion may be technically correct, but certainly we’ve seen many lost opportunities with the differential between what we can charge and what can be charged in Delaware.

As I recall from a discussion with former Governor Ehrlich in 2010, each penny of sales tax contributes roughly $600 million in revenue to the state. (I say this because he wanted to repeal O’Malley’s 2007 one-cent increase.) But the number isn’t static, and reduced economic activity overall may mean a projection of even a half-billion dollars of additional revenue would be too rosy.

Moreover, there’s nothing that says O’Malley would refuse to sign any other tax increases which come across his desk as it’s become his “recurring theme” according to Maryland Business for Responsive Government. As it stands now, his only goal is to make Maryland a Potemkin village of prosperity in time for the 2016 presidential election, and certainly he has figured in his plans that the media will be in his pocket – so no one will come and see the Salisbury business owner who is losing his business to the competition in Delaware, the truck driver who was being pounded by the twin gales of toll increases and a higher gasoline tax perpetually indexed to inflation until he decided to park his rig for good, or the jobless breadwinner in Western Maryland who would be a perfect laborer for the natural gas industry – if only they could start extraction.

Instead, they’ll talk to the crony capitalist who uses his Democratic Party connections to live off the back of the taxpayers, of course glossing over that fact and portraying him as a successful businessman who thinks O’Malley would be the best thing for the country since sliced bread. And for politically correct bonus points they’ll speak to the gay couple who is now “married” thanks to Martin O’Malley. It’s where the state seems to be heading despite our objections. Elections matter, and O’Malley fooled enough people into believing “a fee is a tax” to forget that a tax is a tax, too, and we’re paying a lot more of them since MOM took over Government House.

And while we’d like to think that we can keep the Democrats from voting in any and all tax increases presented to them, the sad reality is that too many people will be used to paying the piper by the time the next election rolls around so they’ll just shrug their shoulders and point to the pork project their local Delegate or Senator took credit for in the district through a few budgetary crumbs. Seems to me that’s the way Norm “Five Dollar” Conway – he who thinks handing over Abe Lincoln to the toll booth operator every time you cross the Bay Bridge is a-ok – continues to be re-elected; he’s head of the Appropriations Committee, don’cha know. Well, for most hard-working Marylanders, that and five bucks might get you a Happy Meal.

It seems to those of us who practice fiscal conservatism out of necessity that the only people who aren’t doing without in this day and age of austerity are those in government.

For example, our County Executive Rick Pollitt would like to raise property taxes by 7 cents per $100 of valuation, or $70 per year for the owner of a home assessed at $100,000. While that may not seem like a lot, consider that it’s on top of the property tax they already pay on homes which have lost perhaps 1/3 of their value over the last three years. Additionally, if that 7 cent increase takes effect the personal property tax would be raised a staggering 17.5 cents per $100, further crippling already-struggling county businesses. All this to build a new middle school, an edifice which could put our county tens of millions of dollars further into debt when the school it will replace and other county schools are seemingly left to rot in the hopes the state of Fairyland will grant their wishes for more new school buildings.

Simply put, there are a growing number of us who have had enough. But the problem is that we’ve been the silent majority for too long.

I want each of you to speak out. They’re used to hearing from me in this forum, and they obviously figure that my platform isn’t big enough to make an impact. Well, it’s time to prove the naysayers wrong. We can all make a difference, and although I know it’s hard enough to just make a living these days (even on a day my work paid off and I picked up a new advertiser) we need to remember what President Eisenhower once said:

“Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.”

While it’s probably more of a full-time profession for me as a politically-based blogger and member of my county’s Republican Central Committee, there are many of you out there who just need a little push in the right direction to become activists. Kindly review my Maryland Model and let’s see if we can pull off some Tebow-like miracles in the political arena!