- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2006

Taxing times ahead in Maryland

The Washington Times reported that Gov.-elect Martin O’Malley may be forced to raise Maryland taxes, including gasoline and sales taxes. A liberal Democrat in love with taxes. What a surprise. (“Miller says Maryland taxpayers may get bill for O’Malley plans,” Page 1, Tuesday).

Maryland is not getting enough of its residents’ hard-earned money through the ballparks, lotteries, cigarette taxes, piggyback taxes, property taxes, current sales taxes, tolls at tunnels and bridges, Inner Harbor revenue, Ocean City revenue and more. The state wants taxpayers to fund more of its liberal agenda, including spending more money on the same broken educational system that is turning out graduates who cannot read, write or do math and know hardly anything about American history.

Liberals have been known to spend taxpayers’ money like drunken sailors on a short shore leave. Liberals believe they have a right to spend our hard-earned money for any purpose and in any fashion that they choose.

Maryland has been losing its population over the years, and one of the reasons is because of high taxation. The people are voting with their feet and moving where state taxes are less onerous.

One gets what one votes for, and Marylanders have voted in a tax-and-spend governor.

JOHN A. MALAGRIN

Baltimore, Md.

No ‘sunshine patriots’ at FairTax campaign

Walter Williams’ recent essay on the FairTax proposal concedes that it would be good for the nation and individual taxpayers and that the current tax system is an abomination (“The FairTax book,” Commentary, Dec. 14). At that point, however, he throws in the towel because changing from the income tax system requires Congress to give up its favorite money and power game — manipulation of the tax code. He wrongly concludes that beating Congress’ self-interest is impossible.

Thank goodness the Continental Army of George Washington was not entirely made up of “sunshine patriots” who insisted that winning the Revolutionary War could be accomplished only if the task were easy. No doubt about it, forcing Congress to embrace a tax system that eliminates lobbyists’ ability to broker tax breaks and Congress’ ability to grant such favors is a tall task, but as long as this is still a government “of, by, and for the people,” we must not conclude that changes in public policy that benefit the nation but shortchange members of Congress cannot be achieved.

How many issues over the history of the country have been considered “impossible” because the political climate did not favor certain reforms? Because our Founding Fathers knew that no government of any design stays true to the will and best interests of the people, the architects of our government built in the ability to petition our government for a redress of grievances — and to defeat those who stop representing us. Medicare was enacted over the objections of the American Medical Association and of the then-chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Wilbur Mills, because millions of senior citizens changed the “political reality” through old-fashioned letter-writing, town hall meetings and constant hectoring of their elected officials. The same thing can happen with the FairTax.

More recently, Congress, led by the two committees Mr. Williams rightly assumes are so powerful, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, enacted the Catastrophic Health Care Act in 1988 with the support of AARP and nary a dissenting vote in either the House or the Senate. A strong grass-roots objection to this new “seniors-only tax” for marginal health-care benefits, however, resulted in overwhelming repeal of the law a year later because seniors avalanched Congress with a mountain of handwritten letters. Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski was even caught on national television being chased from a senior center by a mob of angry retired people after he tried to ignore the sentiment of his own district’s elderly constituents. Within a few months, both Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Mr. Rostenkowski had to admit that they had made a political error, and the legislation was repealed overwhelmingly.

Either because too many Americans have concluded that public policy cannot be driven by the public or because too few Americans are familiar with the FairTax, such public pressure on Congress has not yet materialized. To concede before public pressure is brought to bear that strong public sentiment will be ignored by our government is to create a self-fulfilling prophecy that retards progress on the issue and sadly defines our great experiment in democracy as a failure. We reject that conclusion because the merits of the FairTax are so apparent, the flaws of the current tax system are so universally acknowledged and, perhaps most important, we believe in our democratic process.

We at FairTax.org are more determined than ever to enact the FairTax with a nonpartisan majority. In fact, in these times of severe polarization of the body politic, we believe this is the issue that can unite the left, center and right against the self-dealing of Congress. We take the first step in changing the “political reality” that has stymied every effort to date to fix the broken tax system that is so destructive to our nation.

For the national FairTax campaign, sunshine patriots need not apply. For those who still believe in the promise made by our Founding Fathers of a nation of citizens who are governed only by “consent of the governed,” however, we are ready to enlist you in our citizen army at FairTax.org. We have a grievance, and we are petitioning our government for redress.

KEN HOAGLAND

Director of communications

FairTax.org

Houston

Chose victory over consensus in Iraq

George Lesser swallows the liberal media trope that President Bush is a divisive leader when the facts suggest that he has done much to build a consensus on domestic and international issues in the face of virulent partisan attacks that commenced immediately after the 2000 election and continued with only a brief intermission for faux unity immediately after September 11 (“Iraq as a spoiler issue,” Commentary, Wednesday).

It is interesting that Mr. Lesser begins and ends his column by touting a French defeat as the model for restoring unity among Americans. Unity is a worthy goal, but it should not be pursued at the expense of victory. If pursuing victory in Iraq is divisive, I would prefer division over a phony consensus of defeat.

Mr. Lesser argues that President Franklin D. Roosevelt built a consensus behind America’s World War II effort, in contrast to Mr. Bush’s treating the Iraq war as a “wedge issue.” The real problem, however, is that Mr. Bush’s partisan opponents began treating the war as a wedge issue almost from the beginning. For example, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy early on called Iraq “George Bush’s Vietnam” and then became thoroughly invested in ensuring that his prediction came true.

So the question is not how we achieve consensus, but rather, how we achieve victory. In the current partisan environment, I suspect that victory in Iraq will be easier to achieve than political consensus in America. The president should focus on achieving victory in Iraq, not on achieving consensus. Consensus will flow from victory, but consensus will not lead to victory because too many already are invested in defeat.

Just as President Reagan pursued the defeat of the Soviet Union in the face of opposition from the same people who oppose the current war effort, Mr. Bush must continue to pursue victory in Iraq. Just as everyone claimed credit for defeating the Soviet Union after opposing Mr. Reagan’s every effort to do so, those who oppose Mr. Bush will seek credit for his Iraq policy if it is successful, despite their unrelenting efforts to ensure its failure.

JOHN GREANEY

Silver Spring

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