Stretching the Truth
My Capital colleague George Donahue wrote a column recently that recounted the “dangers” of cutting state taxes and reducing state government spending. Donahue’s column fits with the narrative coming out of Maryland Democrats recently and seeing that he, as president of a local Democratic club, is part of the Democratic Party apparatus that should hardly surprise you.
They say the best lies are spun from a few kernels of truth, and George Donohue has spun a whopper.
First, the Mercatus Institute study Donohue cites is based on data from fiscal years 2013-2015. While Donahue places the blame on Governor Larry Hogan, these budgets were introduced by and passed during the Martin O’Malley administration; it says so right on the document that Donahue referred to
Secondly, it was Governor Larry Hogan who during his first legislative session sought to reverse the Democratically controlled General Assembly’s $75 million cut to the state pension system.
If Donohue had done any actual research he would have also seen that Governor Hogan proposed pension system reforms, designed to reduce unfunded liabilities. These reforms are advocated by the same author of the Mercatus Institute report that Donohue cites.
Donohue’s worry about debt is just so many crocodile tears because it was under Martin O’Malley’s spendthrift budgeting where the state rang up the taxpayer credit card. O’Malley swapped cash in capital accounts, such as raiding the Transportation Trust Fund, Program Open Space, and Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund. O’Malley covered his tracks by backfilling the money he raided with bond debt.
Debt service is paid through property tax revenue, which must be supplemented with subsidies form the General Fund to cover. Thanks to the O’Malley spending spree, that subsidy will soon eclipse what the state budgets for school construction.
Donohue, of course, got his wish for increased taxes under O’Malley to the tune of $10 billion worth of new taxes in over forty tax and fee hikes during a short eight years. However, O’Malley increased spending by a similar amount during his two terms.
Is it any wonder that Maryland voters were ready to Change Maryland but rejecting Martin O’Malley’s record four years ago?
The bottom line is that the path that Donohue proposed for the state has been tried before It was tried during eight years of Martin O’Malley’s reckless spending and immoral tax increases. So what did we ultimately get for O’Malley’s tax and spend ways?
We got a business climate that was among the worst in country.
We got a job market that was among the worst for private sector jobs.
We got a state where families and businesses were struggling to stay because they couldn’t afford all of the Democrats tax and fee increases.
The eight years of Martin O’Malley were bad years for the state. Donohue pretends as if they were the halcyon days of Maryland’s economy. But the facts speak for themselves.
Voters know this. They knew that when they gave Governor Hogan an overwhelming victory in 2014. They know that now when they give Governor Hogan record high marks for popularity and job performance. And they will show they know that again at the ballot box this November.
In my last column I wrote about the differences between Governor Hogan and his Democratic opponent, Ben Jealous. If, after presenting the facts, you recognizes that Donohue’s premise in his recent column was flawed, you will soon realize that Ben Jealous is Martin O’Malley’s administration on steroids.
If you boil down the Ben Jealous it’s very simple; Jealous wants to roll back the things Governor Hogan did that worked and he wants to double-down on the thing Martin O’Malley did that didn’t work.
I don’t begrudge George Donohue’s efforts to defend what Ben Jealous wants to do; it’s going to be harder and harder for Democrats to defend a Ben Jealous economic plan that’s reckless, economically unworkable and dangerous to working Marylanders.