By Kate Alexander
WASHINGTON – More Marylanders would benefit under President Bush’s tax plan than taxpayers in most other states, but that benefit amounts to less than $300, according to a coalition that opposes the plan.
Nearly 80 percent of Maryland families would receive a benefit from the president’s $1.6 trillion, 10-year tax cut, according to a state-by-state analysis by Fair Taxes for All, a national coalition of labor unions, civil rights organizations, and women’s and children’s groups.
Maryland ranked among the top five states for the percentage of families benefiting from the cut, according to the analysis released Wednesday. It was in the middle of the pack for the average return per taxpayer, which would be $295 in Maryland.
One supporter of the president’s plan said it is simply good luck that so many Maryland taxpayers stand to benefit from the cuts.
“Unlike radical left-wing plans . . . President Bush’s plan is not aimed at social engineering, at benefiting one class of people over another class of people,” said Kenneth R. Timmerman, president of the Maryland Taxpayers Association. “This tax plan benefits all Americans.”
But opponents disagree, saying there are a significant portion of Americans who will not benefit, directly or indirectly.
Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, said that Maryland’s gain only underscores the contention that the greatest benefits go to the wealthiest taxpayers. Maryland had the country’s second highest median income in 1999, according to the Census Bureau.
“The Bush tax and budget plan would rob poor aand middle-class Americans to give to the wealthy,” said Neas, who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Connie Morella, R-Bethesda, in 1998. “It puts the people’s priorities like Social Security, Medicare and education last.”
He emphasized that the 20 percent of families who would not receive any return from the tax cut include 255,000 children and represent some of the lowest-income families in the state.
The coalition’s analysis also claimed that the majority of Maryland families would receive an average benefit of $295 while the state’s wealthiest 1 percent would reap $45,916 on average from the tax cut. The total tax savings in Maryland could pay for salaries for 1,676 new teachers, the study’s authors said.
Neas said the coalition of about 500 organizations formed six weeks ago to oppose Bush’s “too large, irresponsible and unfair” tax cut and to spotlight the impact of his tax and budget plans on popular programs, such as child care, health care and education.
While the coalition has not yet determined a target price range for a tax cut, Neas noted that the $1.2 trillion plan approved by the Senate last week is still too large and the coalition will be pushing to shrink it.
The state-by-state analysis was released Wednesday at a news conference that also kicked off a national campaign of radio ads and rallies targeted to push centrist Democrats and Republicans to fight for a lower tax cut and protect popular social programs.