Mar 23, 2012
Last week we reported on the Maryland State Senate looking to raise taxes on everyone in the state, and also disproportionally increasing taxes on “the wealthy.”
We noted that at least on Democratic Senator by the name of Bobby Zirkin, believed the tax bill was wrong and specifically spoke out against raising taxes on what someone considers wealthy. Of the bill, Zirkin said:
“You are taking a certain class and you are singling them out. It is not right and it is not fair,” said Sen. Robert A. Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat.
Enter into the conversation columnist and radio personality Dan Rodricks. It has been our experience that Rodricks leans so far to the left he scrapes his shoulder on the ground as he walks. As Rodricks has the bully pulpit of a talk show and a column in the Baltimore Sun, he was not going to let Zirkin slide on his comments and stance on the tax bill.
In a column dated March 19, 2012, Rodricks writes:
Mr. Zirkin, a Democrat from a heavily Democratic district, said he was “disgusted” and “ashamed” that his fellow senators wanted to raise income taxes on Maryland’s wealthiest households at a rate slightly higher than that imposed on the rest of us.
We need to stop here for a moment. Rodricks’ claim the tax increase was at a rate “slightly higher” is a lie. The increase that affects taxpayers is an increase of 0.15 percent unless you make over $500,000 at which point your taxes will increase 0.25 percent. The difference in the increases alone is 66%. Furthermore, according to the Sun, an income of $180,000 will pay more $292 more in taxes. Logically, if all rates and taxation calculations were the same, a person making $500,000 should expect an increase of $802. Yet the increase in taxes for those making over $500,000 is projected to be $2,482 for a single filer and $2,752 more for those filing a joint return.
No matter how you lay out the figures, Rodricks lied.
Mar 20, 2012
One of the great things about blogging is that you can tell when someone else has cited your post on their blog. These “linkbacks” are the electronic version of “footnotes” in a research paper. When a post is “linked back” to you, the site receives a notice saying so.
Our post on Maryland, taxes, and gutless Republicans caught the attention of a blog called Defender of the Middle Class.
In a post called Maryland tax increase on millionaires, the minority is upset, author Paul Betzler tries to take us to task on several issues regarding our article.
We have to say we find his post devoid of any critical thinking and instead rests strictly on two overtly emotionally based points: 1) what he thinks is “fair” matters and 2) he doesn’t care about other people’s money.
Such is the thinking of those on the left.
We would also be remiss if we did not comment on the misrepresentation of his headline. Yes, we are upset with the additional tax on people over a certain income level, but we are also upset with the increase in taxes in Maryland in toto. We see the state of Maryland as willing to raise taxes instead of doing what every household facing a budget crisis does – cut spending. As we noted in our post, Democrat Senator Roger Manno said of the bill proposing the tax increases, “It averts difficult cuts.“
There are but two ways to get out of debt. The first is to cut expenditures. The second is to raise income. In a business, an owner will look to cut expenses as to remain lean, mean and not wasteful. In that same business, the owner knows that raising prices will affect how many people buy his products or services. That is not the case with government which does not seem to care about being efficient or elimination waste because it has the power to tax to raise income. The government is normally not going to “lose customers” as most people don’t want to pack up and leave.
Yet for a blog that claims to be “looking out for the middle class,” Mr. Betzler doesn’t seem to mind the raising of taxes across the board, even though it will take money from the middle class. With myopic, seemingly self serving vision, Betzler focuses on our objection to raising the taxes on the “wealthy” more than our objection to the increase announced for all Marylanders.
In other words, Betzler went for the “class warfare” angle.
Betzler believes the additional increase in tax rates for the “wealthy” are justified because he believes it is “fair.”
We have addressed this before and use our “hamburger analogy” to prove the point. (Betzler even quotes the whole analogy.)
Mar 16, 2012
The Legislature of the State of Maryland has decided to address its budget crisis by raising taxes.
While all Marylanders will pay more in taxes by adding a 0.15 to 0.25 percent increase income tax. Hardest hit are those making above $500,000 who were hit with a greater tax increase.
The change would increase the tax rate for anyone making over $500,000 — roughly 15,000 households, according to the comptroller’s office — from the current 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent.
And, unlike the way Maryland usually assesses taxes, the new 5.75 percent rate would apply to every penny, not just the earnings over $500,000.
The Legislature also increased taxes on cigars and some items purchased online.
The increase follows a the largest hike in toll fees for Maryland bridges, tunnels and roads in the history of the state which took place in November of 2011.
The Maryland Transportation Authority board voted in September to impose the toll increases, setting Nov. 1 as the effective date for the first round.
At the three Baltimore Harbor crossings — the Fort McHenry Tunnel, the Harbor Tunnel and the Key Bridge — drivers as of Tuesday pay a $3 cash rate each way instead of the $2 they’ve been kicking in since 2003.
On the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, as Interstate 95 northeast of Baltimore is known, the basic northbound toll has risen from $5 to $6. At the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Susquehanna River on U.S. 40, the same rate applies.
On the Bay Bridge, where a bargain $2.50 toll had been frozen in place since the 1970s, motorists’ luck has run out. The rate is now $4 — collected eastbound only — at least sparing drivers the ordeal of fumbling with change. In Southern Maryland, users of the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge found they, too, had to pay $4 instead of the previous $3 to make the southbound Potomac River crossing.
And if one increase is good, two increases must be twice as good:
Feb 25, 2012
Way back on August 13, 2011, we wrote how Obama had compared his health care proposal to the United States Postal Service.
Explaining why he believes a public option would not crowd out and ultimately eliminate private insurance, Obama said, “My answer is that if the private insurance companies are providing a good bargain, and if the public option has to be self-sustaining…then I think private insurers should be able to compete. They do it all the time. I mean, if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.”
What was amazing about the statement was that in comparing the USPS to his proposed plan, and comparing private insurance companies to FedEx and UPS, he was making the argument of how inefficient and wasteful ObamaCare would be and how it would not be able to be successful if allowed to compete “head’s up” with private insurance companies. He was, in fact, agreeing with opponents of ObamaCare and saying the plan wasn’t sustainable in the open market.
In August, we mentioned the staggering losses of the USPS and the affect that might have on the USPS itself.
On February 9, 2012, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe issued a statement saying the losses for the USPS during the first quarter of the fiscal year (October 2011 – December 2011) were $3.3 billion dollars. Projected out over the course of the year, that is over $10 billion in losses.
The USPS continues to look aggressively at closing post offices, ending Saturday delivery and ways to handle benefit and pension commitments.
One way to cut costs that is now in the works is the closing of half of the USPS mail distribution centers. The closings will result in the loss of 35,000 jobs.
Predictably, the Postal Workers Union is not happy about this.
Feb 3, 2012
Damn those Southerners. From the time the United States of America was formed, the South has been hostile to minorities. It is always the states in the North that are models of tolerance and equality. After all, look at Jesse Jackson who rails against racism in the Southern city of Chicago. Uh… sorry. That can’t be right. Well, then we have Al Sharpton who constantly points to racism in one of the South’s biggest metropolises, New York. No wait. That can’t be right either. Chicago and New York aren’t southern states.
Okay, it is those Southern redneck guys that are racists. You know, the ones that live in small to mid sized communities. They must be the ones that are keeping minorities down. Right?
Many people that travel across the country and have lived in multiple places will tell you that racism is much worse in the northern areas of the country than in the south. That is not to say that race relations are perfect south of the Mason Dixon line. What is being said is the idea of northern states being less racist than their southern brothers is am outright lie. It is the elitism of intellectuals from the North who like to look down their noses at those in the South and proclaim superiority in racial matters without a basis in fact.
Their continued sense of superiority is proof of that adage “if you tell a lie enough, people will believe it as truth.”
The Florida Today newspaper summarizes a report commissioned by the Urban Institute:
Jan 30, 2012
Here we go again with a series of “Quick Hits,” – items that are too short to make full post from, but are worthy of notice. At the same time, we have included the obligatory “Rule Five” image with a football theme for the upcoming Super Bowl.
And we’re off……
Maryland’s “Dream Act” is back in court. The “Dream Act” in Maryland requires the state’s colleges and universities to charge in-state tuition rates to those who are in the country illegally. The student must have attended a Maryland high school for 3 years and their parents must have paid Maryland State income taxes to qualify for the in-state tuition. Many people in Maryland objected to the new law and secured enough signatures to have the Dream Act placed on the November ballot. Proponents of the measure sued to have the measure thrown off the ballot claiming the signatures collected were not legal. That attempt failed when it became clear the opponents did have the required number of legal signatures.
Now the charge is the measure cannot be on the ballot because Maryland law does not allow referendums on government spending. Opponents of the measure say the Dream Act is a spending measure as the amount of money allocated to colleges depends on how many in-state students there are. Opponents claim the Dream Act applies to what the student pays, and not how the state funds the discounted rate.
The irony here is that the proponents of the measure have argued the lowered rates will not affect government spending or cost more in taxes. Now they are saying the referendum is illegal because it deals with spending.
We wish they would make up their mind.
Florida is looking at a law that would allow parents to fire teachers.
Two pieces of education legislation are on the table in Tallahassee. Under the Parent Empowerment Act, parents would have the power to fire school staff if they feel the school is not up to par. Under the Parental Involvement and Accountability in the Public Schools Bill, teachers would actually grade parents on their involvement in childrens’ schooling.
On the flip side, legislator has proposed a bill that would allow teachers to “grade” parents of elementary school children.
Dec 28, 2011
The “Patriotic Millionaires,” who we covered before, made an appearance on Capital Hill on November 16, 2011 to lobby for higher taxes on the wealthy.
The so called “Patriots” made visits to Democrats on the Budget Super Committee saying the Democrats should reject any Republican proposal that does not increase the taxes of people making a million dollars a year.
In a statement to the press, the group outlined their goals and reasons for being on the Hill saying:
We have actually undermined the employment gains our economy made in the private sector by firing thousands of workers in the public sector. Just to emphasize this point, we have been firing people who WORK FOR US because we are unwilling to ask a few of the more fortunate Americans to pay exactly what they were paying a few years ago.
Private companies are great – they are critical to our society – most people around me work or worked for private companies. But private companies don’t work for US – they don’t work for the American people as a part of their mission. They work for profit and for their shareholders – and they should.
The disconnect here is staggering. Essentially, these moguls of industry are saying that they aren’t hiring people because it is not profitable, but are demanding people pay for public sector jobs without any accountability to whether the job is needed. They want people to be hired in the public sector so the public will be doing what they will not – hiring people.
The statement also includes this:
Dec 20, 2011
One of the problems facing the City of Baltimore is property taxes. It is not just that people believe that taxes are too high, but there is a disparity in what people pay in taxes, even those living in the same neighborhood with homes appraised at the same value.
The reason has to do with Maryland’s tax credit given to homeowners. Maryland law allows a maximum 4% increase in a tax bill to homeowners, even if the property value has gone up dramatically.
As the Baltimore Sun explains,
Here’s a simplified example of how the city’s 4 percent homestead cap works: Say you buy a home worth $100,000. At the city’s current tax rate of $2.268 per $100 of value, you pay $2,268 in annual property taxes. Next year the house is reassessed at $120,000, but instead of paying 20 percent more your tax bill rises only 4 percent.
If you had owed taxes on the full $120,000, you’d be paying an extra $363. That untaxed amount is the homestead credit, money forgone by the city.
And if the home’s value keeps rising more than 4 percent a year, the size of the credit keeps growing too. During the middle of the last decade, annual property values rose at a double-digit pace. As a result, many owners saw the size of their credit snowball.
But the homestead credit disappears after a home is sold. The new buyer pays the full bill and only begins accruing his or her own credit after the first year — assuming values rise fast enough.
We should note the Baltimore Sun is a fairly liberal newspaper. For example, notice how the paper labels tax money people do not pay as “money forgone,” as if the money belonged to the city – and not the taxpayer – to begin with.
Right off the bat, you have a law that has people in similarly assessed homes to be given a tax bill for a different rate. Compounding that is the fact that an investigation by the Sun showed homeowners were taking tax credits on multiple homes, when the law only allows the deduction for a primary residence. The investigation also showed a wide disparity of home assessments to similar homes in the same neighborhood, as well as assessors not noting improvement to homes and errors in data entry into the property tax accounting system.