WASHINGTON – President Bush’s proposed budget for fiscal 2004 promises lower tax bills to more than 1.8 million Maryland taxpayers, but critics are already saying those benefits will be “tiny for the average Marylander.”
“It’s a stupid idea all the way around,” said David Paulson, a spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party. “Politically it’s not (stupid), the tax cut will benefit the wealthy who help pay for campaigns, but for the common folks, it isn’t.”
Bush’s proposed budget would cut income taxes to create “substantial” and “immediate” benefits, giving a total of $98 billion in tax relief over the next 16 months and $670 billion over the next decade, a White House spokesman said.
“All people who pay taxes in this country will see a benefit,” said the spokesman, Taylor Griffin. “This is serious and substantial help to people who need it across the board.”
The White House said this week that the president’s tax plan would benefit 1.8 million Maryland taxpayers, although Griffin could not break down the savings for different taxpayers.
But Paulson said that just under 1.1 million of those Maryland taxpayers would get back $100 or less and of those 594,400 would get nothing at all. By comparison, he said, the highest 1 percent of taxpayers would receive a little over $30,000 each.
“There is nothing in the Bush plan that is encouraging to Maryland businesses, job growth, expansion, and entrepreneurship,” Paulson said.
The plan has also been attacked by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which said 11 proposals in Bush’s budget would affect state revenues, costing them up to $64 billion dollars over the next 10 years. Because many states base their own taxes on the federal adjusted gross income, federal cuts would trickle down and reduce state income tax revenues, the center said.
“This is the most irresponsible budget we’ve seen in the last several decades,” said Robert Greenstein, the center’s executive director.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, said the president has proposed “tax cuts that would mostly fatten the rich, leave scraps for the rest of us, and force our children to pay the bill.”
“This budget leaves our states with fewer resources, underfunded domestic priorities, and debts that continue to grow, amplified by the future explosive effects of the president’s tax proposals,” he said in a prepared statement.
“This administration cannot continue to heap enormous responsibilities on our states without the funding to provide for services critical for their survival,” Hoyer said.
But while Hoyer said he planned to offer a more “fiscally responsible” budget that will still include tax cuts, Dee Hodges was happy with Bush’s proposal just the way it is.
“Personally, I love the tax cut,” said Hodges, president of the Maryland Taxpayers Association.
She said she has no problem with tax cuts for those in the higher brackets or those who are self-employed, since they are the people who will buy stock in companies, expand their businesses or spend their money leisure activities.
“I am very much one of these capitalist people who believe individuals have the ability to shine,” Hodges said.
“The naysayers will say that taxpayers would only get $300 a year,” she said. “But thousands of people getting $300 in a year, that money in the end bubbles through the economy in a way that employs a lot of people.”