The Baltimore Sun

Raising sales tax will hit home hard

Jay Hancock's column "O'Malley tax ideas appear realistic" (Sept. 19) makes me wonder through what warped prism Mr. Hancock is viewing these "tax ideas."

Mr. Hancock starts his column by assuming that "If it's necessary for Maryland to increase taxes," then Gov. Martin O'Malley's way of doing so is not the worst approach.

Of course, as Republican Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley notes, "If we keep our [spending] increases to the cost of living, we'll be out of this in 2011, but there's an insatiable appetite to spend people's money" ("O'Malley presents his fiscal proposal," Sept. 19).

Somehow, Mr. O'Malley wants us to believe that 83 percent of taxpayers will pay less next year under his plan.

But as Wednesday's main news article on the topic noted, "Neither the governor nor his aides would explain how that could be achieved while still closing the budget shortfall."

And Mr. O'Malley's claim ignores the 20 percent sales tax hike, an increase in the titling tax for automobiles, a voluntary tax via slots and the fact that his plan would double the state tax on cigarettes and raise other regressive taxes.

But not to worry, Marylanders, says Mr. Hancock: "Nobody will notice an extra penny tax on a dollar's worth of goods."

Perhaps Mr. Hancock won't notice. But for those on the lower end of the economic spectrum (who are traditional Democratic voters), this 20 percent sales tax increase will hit home hard.

Douglas Dribben


Wealthy can afford raise in top tax rate

Gov. Martin O'Malley should be commended for the changes he's proposing to Maryland's income tax rates ("O'Malley details cut in income tax," Sept. 20).

Although the changes are relatively modest, Mr. O'Malley has approached income tax reform in a fair way.

Given Maryland's status as the richest state in the union, those earning salaries above $150,000 should be able to cough up an additional 1 percent of their income to continue to enjoy the services they receive from our government.

Most Republicans applauded President Bush when he implemented his devastating tax cuts.

Now Mr. O'Malley wants to give working families a break by making our tax code more progressive, and the Republicans are trying to find something wrong with the plan.

But the fact is that you can only cut so much from the budget while demanding road and bridge repairs, new schools, and better government services.

And since the changes in the income tax system are the fairest part of Mr. O'Malley's deficit-reduction plan, that proposal deserves a chance.

Aimee Darrow


Regressive tax hikes take the wrong track

So The Sun thinks Gov. Martin O'Malley is on the right track on how to take care of the pending deficit ("The $2 billion plan," editorial, Sept. 20)?

Let's recap: Mr. O'Malley's plan would increase the sales tax by 20 percent - and remember that the sales tax is a regressive tax.

It would also increase the income tax rate for top earners to a rate that would give us one of the nation's highest tax rates.

And Mr. O'Malley would increase the corporate tax rate, too. This certainly will make the already dismal business climate in Maryland even worse.

So how can The Sun suggest that Mr. O'Malley is on the right track?

Mark Mourges


Rate cut no cure for financial woes

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has put a Band-Aid on the U.S. economic cancer in an effort to avoid having financial markets collapse as the housing bubble bursts ("Rate drop isn't likely to benefit consumers," Sept. 19).

By cutting the federal funds rate by one-half percent, Mr. Bernanke hopes to present the illusion of well-being and stability to investors.

But the underlying problem is that housing and domestic stocks are terribly overvalued, even as U.S. monetary policy continues to discourage the formation of capital.

Michael J. Marsalek

Bel Air

Gay couples still ask for legal recognition

We cannot fully express our shock and outrage at the Maryland Court of Appeals' decision denying marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples ("Decision stuns plaintiffs," Sept. 19).

After 27 years together, we made our union legal in Canada last November. We hoped that we would also find recognition and acceptance in our home state. Last week we learned that this would not happen soon.

We will soon celebrate our 28th year together and the first anniversary of our marriage. And we hope and pray that the state legislature will step in and take the appropriate steps to rectify the discrimination the court's ruling has extended.

Call it marriage, civil union or whatever. All we ask is the legal right to share insurance policies, file joint tax returns, make medical decisions for one another and celebrate the love we share just as other couples do, under the protection of the law.

Until that happens, we can only wait and plan for our retirement in a country that will respect us and give us equality.

Richard Bryan Crystal Rick Wasserman


Violent teenagers must be punished

What is the country coming to? When six teenagers attack one teenager, it doesn't matter what color they are; they must be held responsible.

The Sun's article "Thousands take outrage to La.," (Sept. 20) quotes the student body president at the University of Maryland, College Park who suggests that even people who don't live in Jena, La., need to "think about what they can do to make their communities more tolerant and understanding."

That's nonsense. As parents, we must not be tolerant of such violent behavior by our youth.

Six teenagers beating one teenager is a cowardly act, and those six young people must be held accountable.

Linda Clinton

Severna Park

Could city enforce pants prohibition?

While I would welcome a ban on low-hanging pants, exposed bras and other emblems of the lack of decorum among Baltimore's youth, what's the point of another "quality of life" ordinance our do-nothing state's attorney's office would likely refuse to prosecute ("Pants proposition," Sept. 19)?

When our city streets are free of loiterers, litterers, prostitutes and drug dealers, and I don't hear those little minibikes screaming through the city every night, then I'll believe the city has the backbone to correct our kids for letting their pants hang too low.

Lonnie Fisher


Let council focus on larger issues

What a disgrace - the city's murder rate is up, the roads are in terrible shape, the rats own the Inner Harbor. And the City Council may waste time on a resolution on pants ("Pants proposition," Sept. 19).

I have an idea: The City Council should stay out of the business of trying to legislate control of peoples' lives.

Then make the city a cleaner and safer place.

David Jaffa

West Friendship

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