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Sin Wagon

Once again it looks like some Democrats are going to go into the 2010 General Assembly session hellbent on raising your taxes. And once again these Democrats are going to try to take their pound of fresh from the poor:

Legislators are not ruling out increases in so-called sin taxes on alcohol and tobacco to prop up programs that have suffered during the state’s ongoing budget crunch.

Such taxes have been at the heart of attempts in recent years to fund services for the developmentally disabled and to expand health care coverage for the needy.

Now, with services for the disabled sustaining $24 million in cuts, as part of the $735 million in budget reductions by the state Board of Public Works this summer, and with health care advocates looking to restart a stymied expansion of Medicaid, legislators say they are not ruling out raising taxes on alcohol and tobacco.

Cognizant of the 2010 elections, legislative leaders have said no to new taxes. And rank-and-file members agree that taxes are unpalatable.

“However, that being said, there may be a few targeted revenue increase measures that we may be able to take,” said Sen. Mike G. Lenett (D-Dist. 19) of Silver Spring.

Of course sin taxes on alcohol and smokes disproportionately take their toll on the poor, since it is lower income Marylanders who use these products at a higher per capita rate than middle and upper class Marylanders do. And, of course, this is the kind of regressive tax that Democrats love to pretend to hate precisely because it is a tax that is aimed at those Marylanders who are least able to mount a credible response against them. Of course, calls for higher sin taxes are nothing new to Annapolis liberals, and still reeks of attempts at social engineering with a tax theoretically designed to bring diminishing returns.

Sen. Richard Madeleno of Neptune Kensington chimes in with this productive train of thought:

Madaleno expects an “uphill battle” when he introduces the bill again in 2010. Given the bleak fiscal outlook, a sin tax “might be more palatable to some of my colleagues who are prone to support them,” he said.

But he doesn’t expect to get the support of anti-tax conservatives. “To those who want to run on a mindless anti-tax platform, one tax is just as evil as the next,” Madaleno said.

Wow, that added a lot to the debate. But I’m not exactly sure that Madaleno should be throwing stones when he and his leftist colleague in Annapolis run on a mindless platform to constantly screw Maryland’s middle and working class families.

Either way, the politics of sin taxes are going to be on everybody’s mind until the General Assembly gets to Annapolis January 13th…

(Crossposted)






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