08.24.08 Ike Leggett: Advocate for the Rich?
Last Spring, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett led the county delegation to Annapolis in opposing tax hikes on the 6000 (or so) wealthiest Marylanders because a bunch of them happen to live in our county, one of the wealthiest in the state (and, indeed, the nation). Those proposed tax increases would have helped lessen the pressure now to approve slot machines as a way to close the state’s budget deficit.
In leading the charge against increased progressivity in Maryland’s highly regressive tax structure, Leggett and other county leaders used classic (and discredited) supply-side reasoning: if it costs millionaires a few bucks more a year to live here, they’ll all leave and our tax revenues will actually decline. This argument was morally reprehensible and ridiculous on its merits. It had the support of all but a handful of Montgomery County politicians.
According to columnist Marc Fisher in today’s Washington Post, Leggett is up to it again. Fisher points out that Leggett, who was solidly opposed to slots as recently as 2005, appears ready to endorse the pro-slots referendum coming up this fall. Why? Because if slots don’t pass, there will be increased pressure to raise taxes on the rich!
Fisher turns to an anti-slots member of the Maryland legislature for analysis:
“I never believed Ike Leggett and other faux-liberal Democrats would join the march to turn Maryland into the next amusement park for gambling,” says Del. Luiz Simmons (D-Montgomery), who has long opposed slots. “It’s a betrayal of the racial minorities who are preyed upon by this pathology of hope, this belief that you’re going to turn your life around with a single bet.” He points to Maryland lottery data showing that much of the money pouring into that game comes from the poorest zip codes, mainly in Baltimore and Prince George’s County.
Simmons says a Leggett endorsement will be more than mere words. “So many Democrats who pretended to be opposed to state-sponsored gambling turned out to be only against the Republicans who were pushing for it. Now, when an African American political leader comes out and legitimizes the exploitation of vulnerable constituencies, it gives permission to people who don’t need much of a push to dismiss those populations.”
So, here we have a reverse-Robin Hood proposal to tax the poor and let the rich off the hook and an African-American leader of a progressive county is going to back it. Despicable!
To let Ike Leggett know what you think of slots and his protection of the ultra-wealthy: firstname.lastname@example.org / 240-777-2500.
©2008 Keith Berner
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