The Key to a Well Run State: Blame Ehrlich
My friend Steve Lebowitz aka Justdafacts thinks he’s struck gold alleging Larry Hogan and Change Maryland “fudged” the Tax Foundation’s IRS migration data. Lebowitz notes that data shows more people left Maryland during former Governor Ehrlich’s term. That’s true, but it’s also irrelevant, because that doesn’t “easily refute” Change Maryland’s actual claim, which is absolutely correct, that Maryland did indeed see the largest loss of taxpayers in the region between 2007-2010.
It’s also quite hypocritical of Lebowitz to cry foul about Change Maryland “fudging” data when he can’t even bring himself to acknowledge Governor O’Malley’s own cherry picking of Tax Foundation data.
Yes, Lebowitz is correct that in 2009 Maryland saw a relatively modest net gain of tax filers. However, that isn’t a validation of Steve’s argument or an acquittal of O’Malley’s record. Rather he’s taken that kernel of truth—which is his schtick—to deflect criticism away from O’Malley, and the the myth of the well run state.
Remember, this argument started on ground of O’Malley’s own choosing. It wasn’t long ago O’Malley was touting Maryland as job creating leader in the region, while simultaneously taunting his RGA rival, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, with cooked stats. And remember O’Malley’s response to Northrop Grumman selecting Virginia over Maryland to relocate corporate headquarters was “a win for the entire greater Washington region.”
Lebowitz omitted the fact that Maryland’s regional exodus began not under Ehrlich but under Democratic governors William Donald Schaeffer and Paris Glendenning. Beginning in 1993, the earliest year data is available, you will find a net outflow of over 50,000 taxpayers from Maryland to its border neighbors Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Also note that data is only available for three years of O’Malley’s first term compared to four for Ehrlich. Of course, Lebowitz fails to mention that caveat. Although, Steve can take some consolation that a whopping 90 people did move from Pennsylvania to Maryland in 2009.
Doesn’t the data prove Lebowitz’s argument you say? It does, only, if your goal is to join his petty dance on the political grave of an irrelevant politician. It still doesn’t obviate the fact that more people are still leaving Maryland for it’s neighbors than moving in—an argument I’ve been making for a while now. In fact, if one wanted to play the petty partisan game, the data shows nearly double the amount of taxpayers left Maryland for Virginia under O’Malley than did under Ehrlich.
In reality, Lebowitz is admitting that O’Malley’s reelection campaign rhetoric, painting himself as a fiscally responsible and Ehrlich as the prolific tax and spender was bunk, given that O’Malley has essentially continued the trend of raising taxes and spending?
However, all the Ehrlich did this, O’Malley did that misses the forest for the trees when it comes to the taxpayer migration issue.
Did Ehrlich spend a lot? Yes. Did Ehrlich raise taxes? Yes. That isn’t a point of contention. Ehrlich had an opportunity to reform Maryland’s fiscal house and he didn’t—would that he could with a hostile legislature but that’s another argument. However, pointing out Ehrlich’s failure in no way acquits O’Malley’s similar tax-and-spend record, as Lebowitz would have you believe.
The point of this post is not a partisan exercise, but rather a philosophical argument to show that continuing the arc of ever more taxing and spending is hurting the state. Just look at Moody’s recent negative outlook for Maryland, four straight months of job losses, and rise in the state’s unemployment rate.
So really what are Lebowitz’s arguments here?
“Maryland: Things could be worse!”
“The most important job in Maryland is the next one we create in Virginia!”
“Maryland: come for the taxes, stay for the regulations!”