Note: The following letter is essentially the discussion board conversation I had with a visitor to my Facebook political page who leveled the usual liberal charges - "Eight years of Bush and your (sic) still talking the same stuff" - and assumed I was running for office exclusively in Calvert County and therefore, he said, "I think you know what I am thinking." My response follows: Hi, Melvin,
District 27 includes northern and central Calvert County and southern Prince George's County. I'm running against Mike Miller, the Senate President. And no, I don't know what you are thinking. I am neither a mind reader nor do I have ulterior motives. I'm a committed Christian, Melvin - what you see is what you get. Please tell me what you think I'm thinking.
You are also mistaken about Governor Ehrlich's management of the state budget. From Wikipedia:
"The greatest challenge that he faced when elected was an actual budget deficit of $2.7 billion dollars passed from the previous administration. This deficit was contained by controlling growth in the budget and a freeze on hiring new state employees. Within his term this deficit was eliminated and surplus money was deposited into the state rainy day fund."
When he left office in 2006, he handed over to Gov. O'Malley a $1.6 billion surplus in the rainy day fund and a balanced budget.
What do you describe as "corporate welfare," Melvin? If you don't make it possible for businesses to operate in Maryland, where will the jobs come from? There is no such thing as government money. Everything they have comes from corporate and individual taxes, taxes they cannot collect from businesses that aren't here and people who don't have jobs. It's a fundamental truth of economics that seems to have been lost in this attitude that business is somehow a bad thing. Even our poor people have standards of living that are the envy of developing nations around the world, and the U.S. economy is by far the largest on the planet.
Assuming you read my issues statements and didn't just go off because I'm a Republican, you know that I believe businesses should be regulated primarily to ensure a fair work environment and protect the public.
The problem is that too many regulations are passed to gore someone's ox at another's expense or appease some constituency and end up hurting the business and the people they employ. That's what happens when lawyers make policy. They see the world divided between clients and adversaries and that's not a constructive worldview with which to develop sound policy. Businesses and people need each other; what is fundamentally wrong with policies that make it easier for businesses to live and thrive, creating more jobs and putting more money in people's pockets?
One more Economics 101 lesson. "Soak the rich" has become a very popular cry among those who think all businesses are evil, which is a ludicrous statement on its face. If you raise taxes on a rich person who is probably rich because he or she owns or runs a business, thereby making the cost of doing business go up, who do you think ends up footing the bill? You and me, my friend. Higher corporate taxes are paid by those who buy.
Most of the businesses you think are receiving "corporate welfare" are not big companies. They're small businesses, many of them minority-owned, and taxes and regulations hurt them more than the big boys. Know why? It costs a business over $40 an hour to fill out government paperwork and comply with some regulation. A big company can hire a whole department that does nothing but regulatory compliance. A small business owner IS the regulatory compliance department - and the CEO, and the CFO, and the CIO, and the COO. That $40 an hour could pay a few employees a decent wage, or be invested in improvements to the business so it can produce more and grow. Most people in Prince George's and Calvert counties work in small businesses. They are the ones that are hurting because of Maryland's business unfriendly climate. That's not a guess on my part; Forbes ranks Maryland 40th in the nation for cost of doing business. You can learn more here.
Let me finish by saying that before you stereotype me as a rich Republican, I'm a middle-class family man with a house payment, two car payments and expenses, including a daughter in college. I'm presently out of work, the third time in 15 months I've been in that situation. Frankly, I don't know what we're going to do next. I'm putting my resume out on the street and leaving it to God. No one can tell me I don't know what it's like to scramble to pay bills and make ends meet, or that I don't know what it's like to sit around the kitchen table and try to figure out how to make our dollars go farther.
I am not a Republican because I am rich or getting over on poor people. I am a Republican because my parents raised me to love God, respect life, work hard without excuses, and help other people personally rather than expecting government to do it. My trust is in the people. They work to make the money and they should keep as much of it as they can to spend, save, invest or pay debts.
Here's my bottom line, Melvin. You can believe as you wish; it's a free country, at least so far. Maryland's rankings are not in dispute, however; 4th highest tax burden in the nation, 5th least friendly to businesses, 6th highest in cost of living. We can wish that away or pretend it's not the case. That's the facts. Even a Democrat, Doug Duncan, said in a weekend op-ed piece in the Washington Post that Maryland is in trouble and its government is playing small ball and not showing any vision. I guess if a Republican says it, it's garbage - if a Democrat says it, it's gospel and gets printed up in the Washington Post. Such hypocrisy - it sickens me!
This isn't a game; there are hurting people out there, including me and my family. Think what you will, Melvin, but I am at peace with my beliefs and my God and I will not forsake either. I choose to be authentic rather than cunning; I'm going to live and profess what I believe, whatever the consequences. I'd like you to join me.