The Corner

Economy & Business

Martin O’Malley Doesn’t Seem to Have Any New or Good Ideas

It’s no secret that former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is likely to enter the 2016 presidential race. So we’ll get an up-close look at his record as governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore. The general impression is already bad enough that on Sunday, Chuck Todd of Meet the Press asked if O’Malley “still run on his record.”

O’Malley has been seen as the most viable contender against Hillary Clinton, but the unrest in Baltimore has been traced by some back to decisions made during his administration. Todd pressed him on why $130 million that had been pumped into Baltimore neighborhoods had apparently had no discernible effect.

O’Malley called the $130 million a “spit in the bucket,” and swiped at House Speaker John Boehner(R-OH) for crying “crocodile tears” over the funds.

One of the main sources of controversy has been the policing tactics Baltimore adopted while O’Malley was mayor. But there’s more, too: Chris Edwards at the Cato Institute looks at O’Malley’s fiscal record as governor, and finds it’s pretty profligate. O’Malley . . .

  • Raised the top personal income-tax rate from 4.75 to 5.75 percent. (With local taxes on top of that, Maryland’s top rate is 8.95 percent.)
  • Raised the corporate tax rate from 7.0 to 8.25 percent.
  • Raised the sales-tax rate from 5 to 6 percent and expanded the sales-tax base.
  • Raised the sales-tax rate on beer, wine, and spirits by half.
  • Raised the gas tax by 20 cents over four years, almost doubling the rate from 23.5 cents.
  • Doubled the cigarette tax from $1 to $2 per pack.
  • Imposed higher taxes on vehicle registration.
  • Imposed a stormwater mitigation fee on property owners, which came to be derided as the “rain tax.”

So what can we expect from an O’Malley presidency? Seems like more federal government involvement in inner cities and more taxes on everyone. On top of his desire to increase Social Security benefits, which ignores the state of utter insolvency that the program faces, it looks like for Democrats, the more things change, the more policy ideas stay the same. 

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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