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March 12, 2008

“Power to Tax, Not Power to Destroy…”

Kevin E. Dayhoff

…With all apologies to Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.; but today is being dubbed as “tax day” in the Maryland General Assembly.


Faced with rising gasoline costs, increased taxes, mounting debt, escalating electric rates, and the gathering storm clouds that the economic may very well slide into a recession, Maryland taxpayers are not in a happy mood these days.  We are witnesses to history as a grass roots tax rebellion continues to gather steam in the Old Line State.


This, in a state – the political pundits constantly remind us – is one of the wealthiest, most progressive, and liberal in the country.


The expectations of a majority of voting Marylanders in November 2006 were that the new administration would lower our electric bills and enact some of the most progressive social and environmental reforms in the country.


Many feel the wheels started coming off the new Camelot-cart when it sunk-in that in spite of electioneering rhetoric, neither the new administration nor the new, highly paid Public Service Commission could lower our electric rates.


Many Marylanders, who were gullible enough to believe such populist poppycock and cast their vote to change administrations, feel betrayed.


Trust is a delicate commodity. It takes an enormous effort to earn it in today’s jaded times, and only a fleeting moment to lose it. Once it is lost, there can be no end to the hell that must be paid.


Despite all efforts by the elite media in Maryland to give the new administration a pass, the path into the heart of darkness was secured by raising our taxes 20 percent last fall.


Accompanied by rhetoric that Marylanders were willing to pay more for social programs and efforts to “save” the environment, taxes were increased to raise $1.5 billion to deflect a budget deficit that many were skeptical existed in the first place.


At the time, responsible leadership warned that raising taxes so precipitously was not such a good thing – especially if the economy should decline.


Some experienced in the paradoxical ways of taxation policy warned that raising taxes could result in even less revenues for the state coffers.


For example, anecdotal accounts suggest that on the left coast, half of California’s projected budget deficit is the result of tax flight in response to raised taxes.


The response of Maryland’s liberal majority leadership has been to increase government programs, increase spending, and wage a holy war on Maryland’s business community and working class.


As the Maryland General Assembly lurches unsteadily into its third month, it was just recently announced that Maryland’s projected budget deficit has grown; and revenues are expected to decline by another $330 million.


Anecdotal accounts abound of people who are either curtailing their spending or traveling to neighboring states to spend their hard-earned money. When presented with this possibility last fall, the current administration and the leadership of the General Assembly scoffed at the thought.


They arrogantly sermonized that Marylanders would be happy to pay extra in the pursuit of a utopian people’s paradise.


Yet Howard County Republican Del. Warren Miller reports in his recent “Newsletter No. 5,” that “Maryland's sales tax is off by 15% while neighboring Virginia with a 4.5 cent sales tax is only off by a one-fourth of 1%.”


The response of the current administration has been stranger than fiction. “O’” recently called to our attention that Washington Times writer “Tom LoBianco really dropped a huge bomb on Saturday for Governor Martin O'Malley when he reported that this Administration gave $600,000 worth of raises to 47 top aides while Maryland was raising taxes and facing a budget crunch.”


To make matters worse, Carroll County Republican Del. Nancy Stocksdale reports in her most recent communication with constituents: “The governor has introduced legislation dealing with global warming. The goals set in the legislation will be impossible to meet with the current technology and will force businesses such as brick and paper factories, steel mills, and power plants to go out of business or out of the State.”


Delegate Stocksdale observed that in “one hearing, a witness for the legislation stated that if Maryland reduced greenhouse gas emissions, China would follow.”


“China would follow.” What sheer pathological arrogance. We all want to save the world. We all understand that we must begin to do things differently if we are to sustain our high quality of life based on our abundant Maryland natural resources. However, at the moment, we can’t save the world if we don’t save ourselves first.


Which brings us to today. Today is storm the Bastille Day in Annapolis. Thousands of people from all over the state are “mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.” They are descending on Annapolis in Biblical proportions.


Today, the Senate and the House of Delegates will be holding hearings on various pieces of legislation that will have even more of an impact on your family's budget.


At the top of the list are bills that have been filed to repeal the computer-technology tax: House Bills 187, 253, and 326.


The taxes on computers and technology were enacted under shady and nefarious circumstances that even Charles Dickens could not imagine. They have become the epitome of a modern day tax on tea, and Marylanders have been pushed to the edge of the wharf of rebellion.


Not everyone can go to Annapolis today. Some of us – what’s left of us – have to work so that we may pay even more taxes to the current administration; and just maybe we’ll be able to buy a crust of bread for our family’s table if there is anything left.


Perhaps this is the day that you make an extraordinary effort to contact liberal members of the General Assembly and the current administration and ever so politely tell them enough is enough.


Stop the ever-escalating, never-ending parade of tax increases and stop spending money that isn’t there. Stop the madness.


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at:

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