O'Malley's slick move on the sales tax increase

January 18, 2012

This latest nonsense about raising the sales tax one penny is beyond the pale ("Sales tax increase: A trial balloon that needs to be popped," Jan. 15). I consider it disingenuous and deliberately misleading bordering on immoral to cast such an idea in that manner. That "one penny" is one penny on each dollar spent on goods that fall under the sales tax. It is, in reality, a 16.5 percent increase in the existing 6 percent sales tax. Were such a thing enacted, would mean that Gov. O'Malley would have, over his two terms in office, imposed on us a whopping 40 percent increase in the state sales tax, a hugely regressive tax at that. And, were the sales tax base be broadened, it would hit even harder those less able to afford more taxes.

So, why would the otherwise politically astute Mr. O'Malley make such a statement, probably knowing the reaction he got? For the same reason the state tolls increase was initially proposed as a much larger increase: to let the public rail against the very idea only to be placated with a lower increase: asking for 10 when they really want 4 and settling for 6. Not a bad strategy. Governor O'Malley is using the same strategy: throwing out the lame dog of a sales tax increase to allow the public to react hoping to settle for a gas tax increase, sales tax base increase, whatever tax increase, or any combination of the three. All too many of the voting public will be duped by this strategy and the strategy of talking about tax increases over and over with virtually nothing said about spending decreases.

I know this, if my revenue falls any further, I'll have to look for expenses to cut. Why, in the face of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, large underfunded obligations, reduced revenues, hurting families, and more, can't our legislature look to paring the huge growth in spending over the past 20 years before turning to raising taxes?

Warren Updike, Towson

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