Beset by scandals in Washington, a beleaguered President Obama escaped to Baltimore last Friday for the second stop on his Middle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tour. Joined by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Obama visited a manufacturing plant and a school to tout his support for the middle class. But both Obama's message and timing were off.
Noting the president's opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, Peter Bowe, owner of Ellicott Dredges, which manufactures underwater excavation equipment, was not impressed by Obama's claim that he's "focusing on our economy and putting people back to work." Coincidentally, it was the same day the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that after several months of modest growth, Maryland had the third biggest spike in unemployment in the nation in April. Maryland lost more than 6.200 jobs, mostly in the hospitality and construction sectors, and had its March numbers revised downward.
Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan pointed out that monthly job figures tend to be volatile. But when O'Malley took office in 2007, unemployment in Maryland was 3.6 percent. It's now 6.5 percent — compared to the 5.2 percent of its top competitor, Virginia, which added more than 12,000 jobs last month. "Virginia has beaten the pants off Maryland as far as job creation is concerned," Hogan told The Washington Examiner.
But after four years under Obama's economic policies and six years as Maryland's chief executive, O'Malley was still blaming former President George W. Bush as late as last September. Hogan says the real cause for April's uptick in unemployment is 40 consecutive tax and fee hikes enacted under O'Malley, which already take a $9.5 billion bite out of the state economy. This year's $800 million gas tax increase and built-in escalations will more than double that tax burden by 2018.
Maryland, which boasted 12 Fortune 500 companies when O'Malley took office, is now down to just two, and the state has lost more than 6,500 small businesses. High taxes have had a "crushing impact" on individual taxpayers, forcing more than 31,000 to move out of state, further reducing the revenue the 40 tax hikes were designed to increase. "It's a snowball rolling down the mountain," Hogan said. "Every single economic indicator shows that Maryland is worse off since O'Malley took office."
That's a record even an ill-timed photo op with the president can't erase.