WASHINGTON – The state’s Democratic congressmen Tuesday attacked President Bush’s proposed fiscal 2004 budget, with Rep. Ben Cardin saying it “doesn’t add up right, is not good for America’s future and certainly not good for Maryland’s future.”
In a conference call, the state’s six Democratic House members repeated charges that tax cuts in Bush’s budget will mean little to the average Marylander and will reduce funding for things like after-school and COPS programs, so the wealthy can get a tax break.
“The president is determined to give enormous tax breaks for the wealthy, with total disregard for increasing deficits, and lack of funding for domestic programs,” said Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Mitchellville.
“This budget will cut critical Maryland funding for transportation, education and highway projects. I am deeply concerned and plan to fight in the House to restore this much-needed funding,” Wynn said during the telephone conference.
But an administration spokesman wondered how the Democrats did their math.
The president proposed a comprehensive jobs and growth package to help stimulate a sluggish economy, said Taylor Griffin, a White House spokesman. The administration has said that the Bush plan would decrease the income taxes of 1.8 million Marylanders.
“The president believes that he is doing what is best to help get the economy moving,” Griffin said.
“With the dividend tax Maryland loses some money due to its tax system,” he said. “But coupled with the rest of the plan, the Maryland economy will see a net gain.”
The House is expected to vote Thursday on a concurrent resolution on the proposed fiscal 2004 budget.
Democratic Reps. Wynn, Elijah Cummings and Cardin of Baltimore, Steny Hoyer of Mechanicsville, Dutch Ruppersberger of Cockeysville and Chris Van Hollen of Kensington, all participated in Tuesday’s telephone conference and all said they will fight for a budget that is more “fiscally responsible.”
“The president’s budget does not include a jumpstart to the economy to create jobs, and his tax cuts will have a direct negative impact on Maryland, eliminating $87 million in revenue,” Hoyer said.
“Meanwhile, 43 percent of Maryland taxpayers will get a tax cut of less than $100 and 24 percent of Maryland taxpayers would get no tax cut at all,” he said. “In addition, these irresponsible tax cuts will be at the expense of intolerable program cuts and horrendous deficits.”
But one of the state’s two Republican House members defended the president’s budget. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, pointed to a Heritage Foundation study that said the president’s economic growth package could create millions of jobs, markedly increase gross domestic product and personal income, expanding states’ tax bases and bringing more money to state treasuries in the process.
The study on the foundation’s Web site said that in Maryland, 687,000 married couples would benefit from the elimination of the marriage tax and 509,000 families with children would see their per-child tax credit move from $600 to $1,000.
“In talking about the federal budget, we need to focus on two key goals,” Bartlett said. “Our country has a war to win and our economy needs to be strengthened with more jobs. It doesn’t make sense to me, but liberals oppose tax cuts for taxpayers.”
He said in a prepared statement that the president’s budget package recognizes the truth that cutting taxes will lower the cost of creating new jobs, which will produce more jobs.
“It’s very easy to complain about the potentially negative impact of a draft budget proposal on this or that important program,” Bartlett said. “But unless there’s an agreement upon an alternative plan that will win the war and create private-sector jobs, it’s not very productive.”