- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 17, 2002

When the Maryland General Assembly convened in January, Gov. Parris N. Glendening did the expected by pushing for higher taxes to fund his pet spending programs. Faced with the prospect of hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink during the upcoming fiscal year, Mr. Glendening urged the General Assembly to delay a scheduled 2 percent tax cut. In the legislature, the usually docile Democratic majority decided to do something that occurs about as often as the Baltimore Orioles make it to the World Series find places to reduce spending rather than raise taxes. "I'd just as soon go forward with the tax cut," sighed Sen. Barbara Hoffman, Baltimore Democrat and chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee. "Politically, it's a good thing to do." The Senate budget panel voted Monday to reduce Mr. Glendening's proposed $22.2 billion budget by $477 million, or slightly more than 2 percent.
While Democrats in the General Assembly have been behaving in a relatively responsible way, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is going in the opposite direction. Mr. O'Malley, who may challenge Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in this year's Democratic gubernatorial primary, has apparently decided to stake out a position as Maryland's leading advocate of higher taxes. In an interview with The Washington Post, the mayor called on the General Assembly leadership to take back an 8 percent income tax cut implemented since 1997, raise tobacco taxes and consider increasing sales taxes. Mr. O'Malley, who appears to take glee in taunting his own party for opposing higher taxes, also denounced "the insanity of doing deep [state] tax cuts on top of the federal tax cuts." Addressing a Democratic Party dinner in Carroll County March 9, he denounced tax cuts and complained that Maryland's political leaders have become "so obsessed" with "controlling government" that "we stopped governing and lost track of what we stand for."
Mr. O'Malley has yet to fully explain what he finds so objectionable about reining in government. As it happens, the mayor's own father-in-law, Maryland Attorney General-for-life Joseph Curran, has become something of a poster boy for mendacious government bullying. Margie Hyslop of The Washington Times recently reported that Mr. Curran, who opposes private handgun ownership, is sending the state police out to confiscate firearms from law-abiding Marylanders convicted of misdemeanors and other minor offenses based on a controversial interpretation of federal and state firearms law.
One case is that of Donald G. Arnold, a Vietnam veteran named citizen of the year by Maryland in 2000 for his work in stopping drug dealers in southeast Baltimore. Mr. Arnold has a misdemeanor conviction stemming from a bar fight years ago, and therefore cannot now carry a firearm in Maryland. Perhaps the mayor could explain whether Mr. Curran's campaign to take guns away from people like Mr. Arnold is the sort of thing he stands for.


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