February 2010

In 2008 the Maryland legislature passed a tax on millionaires with the belief that individuals who earn more than $1 million per year were not paying their fair share of taxes and could easily afford to pay more money to the state government.

Last year the state comptrollers office said that based on tax returns files through the end of April the number of returns filed by Marylanders with more than $1 million in taxable income dropped by a third to 2,000 and that tax receipts from that group were down $100 million.

That information was just reinforced by a report by Montgomery County that showed a 27% decline in millionaire tax returns filed in 2007-2008 in the county which is the wealthiest county in the state.

While most liberals scoff at the idea that the tax has been a factor in the sharp decline in tax returns filed by these wealthy individuals Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett speculated that people who own homes in other states are now establishing residency elsewhere which has contributed to the tax revenue decline.

Maryland legislators badly miscalculated that targeting the wealthy would only have a positive effect on revenue and that despite the recession taxpayers would stay put because they are so in love with Maryland.

Yet despite the dramatic loss in tax revenue the legislature is poised on extend the tax when it expires this year.

They apparently think nothing of chasing away the very tax base that provides the money to fund their projects.

And you wonder why they can’t balance the budget?

The White House press corps who complained loudly and vociferously about the lack of press conferences held by President Bush are now in the uncomfortable situation of repeating that charge but instead of Bush it is their own favorite son Barack Obama that’s the culprit.

According to the New York Times until a recent impromptu press conference that was held in response to the media’s complaints Obama hadn’t held a formal press conference in over seven months.  That was a longer period than either Jimmy Carter or George Bush had gone without one.

The Times also noted that in his first year in office Obama has taken questions from the pool spray 47 times compared to 147 times for Bush and 252 times for Clinton in the comparable time periods.

While I don’t think for a minute that the press would take Bush over Obama if they were given the choice they didn’t realize in general how good they had it compared to the current administration.

Rather than give the White House press corps the unfettered access they expected when he was elected in 2008, Obama has chosen to take a more measured approach by granting a large number of one on one interviews.

These interviews have by and large help burnish Obama’s image as cool, collected and thoughtful and not someone who isn’t comfortable in public without the aid of a teleprompter as we have seen on many occasions.

While Chris “I feel a thrill going up my leg” Matthews is still firmly in the Obama camp the cracks are starting to show with liberals in the press.

Just look at this tweet from Mark Knoller of CBS News.

Sounds a little like the media is playing a game of Where’s Waldo? with Obama.

The pen (or the keyboard) is still mightier than the sword  and if Obama continues to avoid the White House press corps he may just wind up falling on his.

It has now been a week since the second of two major snowstorms buffeted the Washington area and though most of the local governments have managed to get back to business for residents of the District of Columbia it is a different story.

First of all let me state that I live in Maryland and commute to my office in D.C. every weekday morning.

Driving in D.C. is never a picnic but the city’s snow removal efforts have been both comical and tragic as they have left residents with barely plowed streets and major thoroughfares with suddenly disappearing lanes.

I have observed traffic both in downtown D.C. and in a residential neighborhood and as of yesterday the government is still trying to untangle the morning and evening rush and return it to its previous sloth like pace from the current standstill situations that plague the city.

The residents have fared far worse.  I took a short drive to the post office near my office yesterday and began to feel like I should have taken either a defensive driving course or needed NASCAR like credentials to navigate the streets.

In its infinite wisdom the D.C. Department of  Transportation announced yesterday that they have completed plowing the residential streets so they can concentrate on the major arteries and side streets.

That’s great for commuters but not for the taxpayers of D.C.

My drive was still relatively short in time but every street had only one lane plowed making for a game of chicken when I encountered a car in the other direction.  That goes for streets that normally have enough room for two lanes of traffic and for cars to park on both sides of the street.  One lane?  Are you kidding me?  Who is the clown that made that decision?

While the residents continue to suffer from the slow thaw and government inaction D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty who is already reeling from low poll numbers has been justifiably pounded for not having a firm plan for the snow which was predicted to fall in large amounts and an insufficient amount of working snow plows.

Don’t forget these are the same people who think that the District should have the ability to govern all aspects of the city and be freed from Congressional oversight.

Even though I would prefer less federal government interference it is clear that the D.C. government is still not ready for prime time.

Will Mayor Fenty feel enough political fallout to lose his job?  That’s possible as poor snow emergency management has brought down mayors in other cities in the past.  But I think that the voters of D.C. who keep giving cocaine induced former mayor Marion Berry more chances than the average cat has lives will probably follow the same pattern as they have in the past and reward incompetence while they wait for the next big storm.

Oh yeah and then there is the garbage pickup….

The liberal media and pro-abortion groups worked themselves up into quite a lather after CBS agreed to air a pro-life ad during the Super Bowl featuring 2007 Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother.   Yet after the ad aired Sunday my initial feeling was what was all the fuss about?  When the ad aired at the beginning of the game I didn’t event realize it was the controversy laden ad until Tim Tebow appeared at the end.

For Focus on the Family which paid $2.5 million to air the ad I guess they got their money’s worth based on the press the ad generated.  As an effective pro-life message I’m not so sure.  It was a very soft sell and I was frankly underwhelmed.

In the end the media and the pro-abortion groups got worked up over nothing in my opinion but then again what else can we expect from people who thrive on rumor and innuendo and not the facts?