Ben Jealous Has Finally Jumped the Shark with his Sales Tax Proposal

By Mark Uncapher, MCGOP Chairman

Those with a good political memory will recall Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s claim that: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."    The comment captured in amber a politician’s cynicism in trying to evade the truth and in trying to have it both ways on an issue. 

Democrat candidate for Maryland Governor Ben Jealous has borrowed from the Kerry playbook.  He now claims to promote a sales tax cut of a quarter of a penny per dollar, even as he also acknowledges that his spending plans will require significantly higher taxes. Taxes higher than even Martin O’Malley ever imagined.

Jealous has sluffed off the prospect of higher taxes to pay for his spending plans by claiming that a “commission” he would appoint will make future “revenue recommendations.”

Are Maryland voters supposed to be fooled by this attempted sleight of hand by a wannabee governor who promises them free stuff, but then is unwilling to take responsibility by having a plan to pay for it?

Jealous has proposed spending plans with price tags in the billions:

  • Single-Payer Health Insurance– This proposal alone has been estimated to cost $24 billion, an amount that exceeds the state government’s tax revenues from all sources. Maryland’s nonpartisan Department of Legislative Services calculated that the state would have to levy a 10% payroll tax against every business and charge a $2,800 fee for every man, woman, and child in the state.[1]
  • Twenty-Nine Percent Increase in Teacher Pay- At an additional $16,000 per teacher, this Jealous promise adds another $1 billion in spending.
  • Free College Education for All – This promise is harder to cost with precision- However, the 150,000 Marylanders enrolled in community college degree programs pay an average of $4,300 per year tuition, a total of over $600 million.
  • Universal Pre-K- Maryland’s Department of Education estimates that offering “high quality pre-kindergarten” to the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds would cost $1.36 billion.[2]  Maryland has about 150,000 three and four-year olds. Paying for a full day, school year-long program was projected at about $9,000 per pupil.  (However, this may understate the real eventual cost, because Maryland’s statewide K-12 public school spending averages $15,000 per pupil.[3])

The good news is that Maryland voters really are not as gullible as Team Jealous seems to think they are.  Likely, even the most diehard Jealous supporters have absolutely no expectation whatsoever that as governor, Jealous would even try to reduce the sales tax rate, even temporarily, let alone see it passed by the legislature. (However, be sure to ask them about it.) 

Just as John Kerry discovered, voters have a very sensitive radar to politicians who are trying to fool them with evasions and half-truths. In turn, that is why that because Governor Larry Hogan has so steadfastly stuck to fulfilling his 2014 promises of a more responsive state government without any new taxes that he enjoys such immense popularity.  He made promises he intended to keep and kept them.




Montgomery County Republican Party