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October 25, 2011

“Thieves” In Elected Office

Shawn Burns

For the last 30 years, Congress has “borrowed” money from the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for programs to study the mating habits of salmon, to build bridges to nowhere, and to fund a multitude of other pet projects.


All of the money borrowed from the trust fund was replaced with IOU’s. Congress currently owes the Social Security Trust Fund over $2.4 trillion dollars.


Why did Congress need to borrow every penny out of the trust fund? The answer is simple. Congress loves to spend money. It’s what they do best.


Fiscal restraint and responsibility are foreign concepts in the halls of the Congress.


Besides, those guys and gals are having so much fun spending other peoples’ money that they don’t want to quit.


Congress knew they could never – and would never – repay the money they were stealing from the Social Security Trust Fund.


So now, because of the problem Congress created, they are talking about reforming Social Security. Talks center on raising the retirement age, implementing means testing, and even cutting benefits. Each and every suggestion for reform hurts recipients. There is no penalty or accountability for Congressmen that have spent us into this mess.


And we can’t forget that working people have no choice of whether or not they want to participate in Social Security. It is mandated by law. And every working person contributes money into the Trust Fund each and every time they earn a paycheck all of their working life. So, the money that is paid out in benefits is not a handout or welfare, it is earned money that working people have paid into the system. There should never be any talk of cutting benefits.


Plain and simple, Congress needs to be held accountable for the 30-year raid on the Social Security Trust Fund that has left current and future beneficiaries holding $2.4 trillion dollars of worthless IOU’s.


The same scheme used to raid the trust fund has been used here in Maryland to raid the state Transportation Trust Fund. Nearly a billion dollars has been borrowed from this fund in the last eight years. The money was used to balance budgets and to pay for other projects unrelated to roads.


And now we are told that Annapolis is considering a 15-cent per gallon increase of the Maryland state gas tax.


Taking the page directly from the federal government’s playbook, the O’Malley Administration wants the taxpayers of Maryland to pay for the mistakes and lack of leadership of those in Annapolis.


Of course, the O’Malley Administration claims that this tax increase will help create jobs. But the question should be instead, how many jobs would’ve been created had they not raided the transportation fund in the first place.


The mentality of Annapolis is to spend, spend and then spend some more. And when the money is gone, raise taxes in order to get their hands on more money.


Currently Marylanders pay 23.5 cents to the state and 18.4 cents to the federal government for each and every gallon of gas they purchase. If Annapolis gets their way, we will go from paying 41.9 cents per gallon of gas in federal and state taxes to 56.9 cents per gallon of gas. The national average for the two gas taxes is 47 cents.


The proposed 15-cent increase is a 63 percent tax increase. And it is estimated that increasing the state gas tax will take another $250 a year out of the pockets of each and every Marylander.


To put it another way, the O’Malley Administration wants every Marylander to take a $250 a year pay-cut in order to make up for their annual raid of the transportation fund.


Didn’t Gov. Martin O’Malley run on a platform of not increasing taxes? He must have forgotten about that minor detail.


Tolls are set to increase across the state. Increasing fees (taxes) for tags, registrations, and license renewals have been proposed. But where will also the money from these new taxes go? Who will get this windfall?


Here’s an idea: Before proposing a tax increase, the O’Malley Administration should first document how they have cut spending to get down to a bare-bones budget, prove that the money they have already spent was spent wisely, and repay all of the money they “borrowed” from the transportation fund before they even consider taking more money out of the pockets of the hardworking taxpayers of Maryland.


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