Who exactly, besides the government, has benefitted from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)? Since the passage of this massive spending bill, the economy has lost 1.6 million jobs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for May rose to 9.4% – the highest rate in 25 years
Last week, President Obama embarked on a new effort to prove that his stimulus plan was worth the $787 billion it is costing the taxpayers. Instead of new information or concrete, specific examples we were given vague numbers and basically told to have faith and continue to hope for economic change. We were told that, even though 1.6 million jobs have been lost, 150,000 have been created or saved. The Administration also told us that in the next 100 days, an additional 600,000 jobs would be created or saved. Created or saved? Which is it and where are they? The Department of Labor can specifically point to the precise sectors when jobs have been lost – why can’t the Obama Administration be a little more specific? Where are the actual people who have a new job or avoided losing their job as a result of the ARRA? Why, if the ARRA is doing what it was supposed to do, do we only have 150,000 jobs to show for it? What happened to the 3.5 million jobs over two years that the Administration had initially promised? A meager 150,000 is a rather austere start when such lofty promises have been made.
The Baltimore Sun has reported that the Obama Administration is “relying heavily on educators to pull the country out of its economic doldrums”. Education funding is important – Maryland already spends record amounts on education. But, when exactly did educators become such dependable economic stimulators? What is so wrong with depending on the traditional economic engines like small businesses and entrepreneurship? As a part of this new reliance on educators as an economic stimulant, Maryland will soon receive $210 million in additional federal stimulus money for education. Now there is no doubt that the O’Malley Administration is eagerly anticipating another pot of money to spend – they have yet to find a pot of money they did not like. However, this latest pot of money from the taxpayers (we should never forget that it is after all taxpayer money) through the ARRA is just small example of the catastrophic failure of the stimulus plan to repair the economy. The reason for this failure is very basic – the stimulus plan does nothing to stimulate the economy and only stimulates and enables the bad spending habits government.
In Maryland, we have grown accustomed to failed government policies disguised with a public relations and media blitz. They have been the hallmark of the O’Malley Administration. Governor O’Malley used this “governing by mirage” technique consistently as Mayor and brought that bag of tricks with him to the Governor’s mansion. The best example of this is the tax increase scheme he championed in 2007 – allegedly aimed at wiping out the structural deficit. In the summer of 2007 the Governor went on a state-wide tour with a “Cost of Delay” budget in his pocket. The purpose of this doom and gloom budget was to scare people into supporting his massive tax increase plan. To sweeten the pot, he told everyone that 95% of people would actually see a tax cut. What do we have to show for the Governor’s massive tax increases? The structural deficit was not wiped out; it is currently $1.2 billion and growing. The 95% of us that were supposed to see a reduction in taxes are still waiting. While congratulating himself on his fiscal responsibility, the Governor has backfilled virtually every reduction in state spending and the budget has grown year after year. In the 2009 session it looked like the Governor would have to make actual reductions that he could not backfill, but he was rescued from having to make those reductions by the Obama stimulus package. Instead of making the plump bureaucracy of state government lighter, leaner, and more efficient the Obama stimulus package has perpetuated the cycle of Maryland’s chronic overspending. As a result, Maryland is well on its way to another tax increase when the stimulus money runs out – a need that will conveniently arise after the next election.
It is abundantly clear that the policies of the Obama Administration and the O’Malley Administration have done more to hurt our economy than to help it. Citizens across the state and the nation are beginning to rise up realizing that the emperors are not wearing clothes and we have been taken for fools. What is needed to get this economy moving is to put money in the hands of the taxpayers – not the government. Reduce the size of government and reduce taxes – allow people to keep what they earn. Give people incentives to spend through sales tax holidays and with tax credits. It is time to put an end to the nanny state where government takes care of us. It is time to put our faith back into the entrepreneurial spirit of our country. Enough is enough.
Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is expected soon to release a list of goals to guide the remainder of the governor’s term. The list of major goals includes increasing public transit ridership by 10 percent per year, reducing violent crime against women and children by 25 percent by 2012, and ending childhood hunger in Maryland. No one can argue that these are not worthwhile goals. However, they may not necessarily be attainable.
Setting unattainable goals and giving the appearance of progress is nothing new for Governor O’Malley. He has a habit of governing by mirage. He chooses laudable causes to champion, has a media blitz about how much he is doing, but nothing ever really changes. We saw this during his tenure as the mayor of Baltimore.
Then-Mayor O’Malley gave the illusion of improving Baltimore’s schools. As it turns out, this was not so. He also made a commitment to reduce the city’s crime rate — yet another well-marketed promise that never really came to fruition.
The governor is very philosophical about his failure to meet the goals he sets. He claims that he is a risk-taker by setting goals he can be judged by. He says even falling short of his goals is still progress. Basically, the governor seems think we should be happy that he tried, regardless of his lack of success. If this is true, then why set the goals in the first place? Could it be that setting these goals has little to do with Maryland’s needs and has more to do with building the Martin O’Malley image prior to his bid for re-election?
Let’s take a look at some of the goals Governor O’Malley has set so far:
-Electricity rates: After all the fist pounding and chest beating theatrics, and after demonizing members of the Public Service Commission, the governor has not delivered any significant reduction in electricity rates.
-”StatBrothers”: Where is the data on StateStat, the much-anticipated tool of government efficiency and transparency that the governor claims is a success. What about its brother BayStat? Where are the results?
-Public safety: The governor came into office on a mission to abolish the death penalty. After several failed attempts he tried to take on the role of a neutral arbiter by creating a commission to study the death penalty. It was clear from the start that this commission was nothing more than a foregone conclusion looking for a process. While Maryland has technically retained the use of the death penalty, it has been restricted in such a manner to render it virtually useless.
-Tax cuts: Remember that tax package Governor O’Malley pitched before the special session? He said 95 percent of Marylanders would see a tax break. So far, the only Marylanders that have seen a tax break are those that have moved to neighboring states.
-Budget deficit: By far, the greatest hoax perpetrated by the O’Malley administration over the last three years has been the multiple “fixes” to the state’s structural deficit. First, he said he needed time to get a handle on the fiscal situation. He used that time to raid every pot of money the state had and wiped out the surplus left by his predecessor. A few months later, he contrived a fiscal crisis complete with a “Cost of Delay” doom and gloom budget created to push through the largest tax increase in Maryland’s history. He threatened cuts to public safety and education in order to push through his abysmal slots scheme. He pretended to make “tough decisions” to cut spending while continuing to backfill virtually every cut. Most recently he has relied heavily on the federal stimulus package to bail the state out of the fiscal swamp he put us in. Even with all this, the structural deficit is bigger than ever.
Those are only a few examples of the goals Governor O’Malley has set in the past. Perhaps before moving forward with a shiny new list of goals to fall short of achieving, he may want to revisit some of these important issues. It is time for Governor O’Malley and his “Delivery Unit” to be less concerned with his image and re-election and more concerned with doing the business of government. Fewer mirages, more reality.