poor car

Friends Like These

If you listened to Conservative Refuge Radio recently, you heard me discuss how Maryland Democrats claim to be the friends of working people but in case after case enact policies that make it harder for working families to make ends meet.

In the past, we have point this out with regard to regressive taxes (gas taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, property taxes) and higher fees and tolls.  We have also pointed out how the state’s democratic leaders have enacted policies make utility rates ever higher.

Another area where Maryland Democrats have made life harder for working families is in car ownership.  A recent Yahoo finance article pointed out that Maryland is the fifth most expensive state to own a car.  They cited fuel costs and the high costs of insurance as major factors in their calculation.

The article concluded that,

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High annual gas expenditure and high insurance premiums drove up the high overall cost of operating vehicle in Maryland. A typical car owner spent $2,317 on gas and $1,590 on car insurance each year in the state, the fourth and 10th highest figures, respectively.

Some liberals are fond of pointing out the “high cost of being poor” in this country.  They talk about how basic transactions are more expensive for working people.  What they often ignore, however, is that many of these problems are caused or worsened by the policies they enact.

Car ownership is a good example.  The working poor often live in neighborhoods that have higher crime.  These crime rates are often exacerbated, as we have seen in Baltimore City, by poor police management and lack of priority to reducing property crimes.

In addition, consider the impact of the state’s VEIP or car emissions program. Cars registered in Maryland are required to be tested every two years. While the costs of the test themselves is not significant, less than twenty dollars, failure to pass often requires expensive repairs with a waiver only after $450 is spent.  For working people, this is a particularly onerous burden.  Often they own used cars or must drive cars longer, making them less likely to pass inspection and/or require expensive maintenance to comply with the emissions standards.  Any failure to comply results in an automatic suspension of registration.  In fact, these automatic suspensions are so common that I have seen District Court judges, hearing cases of drivers charged with driving on suspended registrations, assume, usually correctly, that the basis of the suspension was failure to timely comply with the state’s emissions regime.  Such charges provide the potential for jail time, but usually result in expensive fines and legal costs for already burdened drivers who in many cases were unable to afford the repairs which were mandated to avoid the suspension in the first place.

Here again, it is Maryland Democrats, under the guise of protecting the environment, who have set another snare to which the working poor too often fall prey.

I would urge Maryland Republicans to work towards real relief for working families and introduce legislation which would ease the burdens on working people.  Tax, fee and toll relief are a great start and should be pursued earnestly, however, real reform in insurance laws, reducing the multitude of laws mandating automatic suspensions of licenses and registrations and eliminating the burdens on the working poor of the state’s VEIP regulations would also be a good start.

If only Republican legislators would spend their time working on these types of bills rather than some of the insignificant “small ball” they prefer but that is a subject of another post.


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