Category Archives: Larry Hogan

Hogan Raises Taxes by $380 Million to Save Obamacare

The Washington Post reports that Gov. Larry Hogan has collaborated with the General Assembly to raise taxes in order to protect Maryland’s individual insurance market:

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Maryland’s Democratic legislative leaders have reached agreement on a one-year plan to stabilize skyrocketing individual health insurance premiums by taxing insurance companies and using the money to pay the biggest claims.

Legislation that won initial approval in the state Senate on Friday would levy a surcharge of about $380 million on insurance companies that do business in Maryland, which are paying about that much less in federal taxes this year because of a one-time exemption provided by the recent overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

Using that money for a “reinsurance fund” will lower premiums for everyone in the individual insurance market, officials and advocates said, heading off a potential crisis stemming from anticipated increases in premiums of between 30 and 50 percent and the possible departure of CareFirst, Maryland’s only statewide insurer for the estimated 154,000 individuals who buy their own plans rather than get coverage through an employer or government program.

In this way, the Governor is working directly against efforts by Trump and congressional Republicans to kill off the Affordable Care Act through executive actions and ending the individual mandate. In short, Hogan is working with Democrats to achieve their goal of protecting health care for all Marylanders.

Of course, it’s only a stopgap solution. If reelected, Hogan will have to extend the tax increase in one form or another in order to continue the reinsurance fund, or reestablish the individual mandate within the State of Maryland. No one can seriously believe that this is a one-time move.

It’s completely the right thing to do but destroys the narrative that Hogan has reduced taxes. As the most powerful governor in the nation, Hogan could have stopped the tax increase. However, the Republican base has little choice to stick with Hogan but cannot be pleased or motivated by this decision.

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Hogan Republicans Run Trump’s Playbook on Russia and Election Fraud

Can we please stop pretending that Larry Hogan is some sort of goo-goo Republican reformer?

Yesterday, the Maryland GOP sent out a hysterical email railing against – gasp – foreign election observers of American elections:

Do you think foreign nationals should be openly invited into our polling places on election day? Democratic Senators Kagan and Rosapepe think so.

For all the complaints about potential foreign involvement in U.S. elections, Maryland Democrats sure are trying to invite outside influences into our elections…

Now, they have introduced SB 190 that would give an international election observers the same rights as a U.S. citizen to watch over our elections for any polling place in the state that they see fit.

This bill gives foreign nationals the right to:

  • Go to polls unsupervised and move from poll-to-poll
  • Enter the polling place one-half hour before the polls open
  • Enter or be present at the polling pace at any time when the polls are open
  • Remain in the polling place until the completion of all tasks associated with the close of the polls
  • A police officer who is on duty at a polling place shall protect an international election observer in the discharge of the duties of the international election observe
  • The election judge shall designate reasonable times for international election observers to examine polling lists

SIGN AND SHARE the petition if you believe the Maryland Senate should vote AGAINST SB 190! 

I don’t know who came up with this unhinged horror at a piece of legislation that should be so uncontroversial as to verge on banal. Foreign election observers are common in elections around the world. The U.S. sends observers to countries around the world as part of observation missions.

Indeed, the American government plays a major role in funding these initiatives through the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI), Organization of American States (OAS), and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). All but the last are based in Washington.

Beyond the creepy weirdness of attempting to whip voters up over people observing – a word that specifically excludes any participatory role  – our elections, this is right out of the Trump playbook because of (1) its xenophobic attack on foreigners as somehow inherently nefarious, and (2) being resistant to any effort to improve the electoral process whatsoever.

Trump is impervious to protecting our elections from proven Russian interference in our elections because it helps Republicans. (Ronald Reagan must be rolling over in his grave.) Under Larry Hogan, the Maryland GOP shows similar hostility to the most mild effort to improve our democracy in their effort to whip up hate about a bunch of foreign election experts who will come here, observe elections, and write a tempered report with a few suggestions for improvement.

The Governor has just lost what little credibility as a reformer he had. He is willing to speak out against redistricting in Maryland, because he thinks it will benefit his party, but totally silent on Republican efforts to protect it north of the Mason-Dixon and south of the Potomac.

Yet he found time to travel to Virginia to support the odious Ed Gillespie in his effort to become governor using hateful rhetoric and scaremongering. Despite Gillespie’s flop, Hogan apparently decided to import Gillespie-type tactics.

If Larry Hogan’s Republicans were remotely reasonable, they would never publish something like this. The Governor needs to repudiate it immediately and replace the people in the Maryland GOP who came up with this piece of tripe.

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Top MoCo Fundraisers, January 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

Recently, we have run several reports on fundraising through January 2018.  This post combines all of our data and presents the top 20 fundraisers in MoCo so far.  Note that we break out self-financing and report totals raised for the cycle, not just totals since the last report.  And… here they are!

A few random thoughts.

1.  It’s natural to expect Brian Frosh and Peter Franchot to be the leaders since they both hold statewide offices.  Of the county-level candidates, Council Member Roger Berliner, who is running for Executive, is number one.

2.  The numbers for Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18), who is running for Governor, are misleading since he will be applying for public matching funds.  Madaleno has said that he anticipates receiving about $975,000 from the state.

3.  Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18), who is running for Senate, is the leading fundraiser among all of MoCo’s state legislators.  He will need that money against his self-funding rival, Dana Beyer.

4.  County Executive candidate David Blair, gubernatorial candidate Krish Vignarajah, Council District 1 candidate Andrew Friedson and Council At-Large candidate Bill Conway are first-time candidates.  It’s a significant achievement for first-timers to make a list of this kind although it’s somewhat tempered by the self-financing of Blair and Vignarajah.

5.  Delegate Marc Korman (D-16) is the only first-term elected official on this list.  That’s a big deal and a sign of good things to come.

6.  Council Member Marc Elrich, who is running for Executive, has never been on a top fundraising list in his life.  He is now, and that’s thanks to public financing.

7.  Lieutenant Governor candidate Susan Turnbull raised more money in a month and a half of campaigning than half the people on this list did in the entire cycle, a staggering feat.

8.  Governor Larry Hogan has raised more money this cycle ($11.5 million) than everyone on this list combined.

Note: an earlier version of this post mistakenly omitted Turnbull’s results.  We have corrected it to include her.

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Revenue Shortfall Undermines Hogan’s Claims on Jobs

By Adam Pagnucco.

In 2014, candidate Larry Hogan ran on three issues: jobs, taxes and reforming Annapolis.  From 2015 through the present, Governor Larry Hogan has based his agenda on three issues: jobs, taxes and reforming Annapolis.  It’s a smart and focused way to campaign and govern and has largely (although perhaps temporarily) neutralized Hogan’s disadvantage as a Republican in blue Maryland.  But now the state budget is suffering from a revenue shortfall.  That calls into question Hogan’s standing on perhaps his biggest issue: jobs.

Recent polls show that jobs and the economy are the second most important issue for Marylanders, trailing only public education.  Accordingly, Hogan relentlessly promotes his jobs record in the press and social media, not so subtly using it as justification for his reelection.  But if employment was really surging, state revenues should be booming.  They’re not.

One of countless Facebook posts by the Governor on jobs.

Last week, the Board of Revenue Estimates, comprised of the Comptroller, the Treasurer and the Secretary of Budget and Management, voted to reduce the state’s revenue projection for FY18 (the current fiscal year) by $73 million.  The reduction included shortfalls of $92 million in income taxes and $33 million in sales and use taxes, which were partially offset by increases of $18 million in estate taxes and $17 million in corporate income taxes.

A summary of the shortfall released by the Board of Revenue Estimates.

Given the fact that the November income tax distributions were down by 26% in Baltimore County, 29% in Montgomery County and 30% in Howard County, it’s not surprising that the state’s income tax projections would take a hit.  In those three counties, tax planning by the wealthy to take advantage of next year’s federal tax cuts was probably a factor in their shortfalls.  The fact that Maryland has the highest percentage of millionaire households of any state in the country leaves it vulnerable to these kinds of revenue swings.

But that’s not all.  The $33 million decline in projected sales and use taxes does not relate to tax planning by the rich.  That’s a similar situation to what MoCo is experiencing as half the county’s shortfall comes from taxes other than income taxes.  Hogan is dealing with the same problem as MoCo’s county elected officials: for all their claims that the economy is strong, healthy economies tend to not produce significant revenue shortfalls.  Recent employment estimates are often revised substantially soon after their release, but current year revenue declines are something that governments have to deal with in the near term.

Here’s what Comptroller Peter Franchot had to say about the state’s falling revenue projections:

The revenue projections that have been brought to this Board for approval were meticulously and carefully crafted based on what we know … and the trends we are seeing … and the data we are receiving. Once Congress approves a final version of the tax reform legislation, our experts here will work diligently to determine its impact on Marylanders’ income and our state’s fiscal future and propose revisions to our revenue estimates where appropriate.

In other words, we’re doing the best we can with the information we have. But, here’s what we do know and here’s what the numbers tell us. While we have undoubtedly made considerable progress after the crippling effects of the 2008 Recession, with an unemployment rate hovering around 4 percent and stock market trends that are headed in the right direction, the fact of the matter is that thousands of Maryland working families and small business owners who were affected the most by the economic crash nearly a decade ago haven’t fully recovered.

We continue to see that with declining sales and use tax revenue. With wages and salaries that are lackluster at best. Even those who are employed with good-paying jobs have – in more cases than not – elected to put their disposable incomes in their piggy banks instead of putting money back in our local economy. And who can blame them?

With all the uncertainty that’s being produced by Washington at an almost daily basis, coupled with the continued fiscal and economic challenges that our state and our communities face, it’s understandable why so many of our citizens remain hesitant and timid about how they spend their hard-earned incomes.

Let’s remember that Franchot has a famously cooperative relationship with Hogan.  Even so, Franchot is saying that the state’s economy has not fully recovered from the Great Recession – which is exactly what we wrote about MoCo before the revenue crash.

This is the opposite of Larry Hogan’s message that he has been great on jobs.  His opponents are sure to take notice.

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MDOT Swastika Update

The debate over MDOT’s unfortunate graphic evolved into an article in the Baltimore Sun. Christina Tkacik reports that Transportation Secretary Rahn has pulled the image from a brochure published by the state that appeared on its website. When asked about it, your gentle blogger said:

“Of course it looks like a swastika,” said David Lublin, a professor with American University who posted a photo of the image on his blog, which chronicles Maryland politics.

But Lublin said he wasn’t offended by the image, assuming it was just a “brainfart.” MDOT has “flubbed a lot” over the years, he said.

“There’s enough hate in the world without us searching out for it,” he said.

I believe the last especially strongly. The Sun‘s Erin Cox drew attention to it for the hilarity of this wonderful forehead-hits-keyboard moment and to spur discussion. If anyone seriously thought that this reflected anti-Semitism on the part of the Hogan Administration, this would’ve been front page news–not a tweet.

Taking a moment to state the obvious, the unfortunate swastika graphic is completely different that Donald Trump’s retweeting of neo-Nazi images containing some of the worst anti-Semitic tropes. Moreover, unlike the Orange Occupant of the White House, I’m sure that Gov. Hogan has at least the sense the Lord gave a turnip and just rolled his eyes and moved along.

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Because, In this Administration, We Just Can’t Get Enough Swastikas

As Erin Cox from the Sun points out, this is perhaps a badly timed graphic goof coming out of an administration that just worked to woo pro-Israel voters. Gov Hogan is in charge of MDOT, and it’s off his post-Charlottesville message and change of heart on the Taney statue designed to communicate “I’m not Trump.”

Just please don’t claim it’s a sheriff’s star or an exit on the Beltway.

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Miller Causes a Huge Headache for Maryland Democrats

By Adam Pagnucco.

Democrats all over the country have lately been demanding that Confederate statues and other monuments celebrating slavery be taken down.  That extends to Maryland, where Baltimore Mayor Cathy Pugh had four Confederate monuments removed in the middle of the night.  But when Maryland Democrats demanded that an Annapolis statue of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney also be removed, they ran into opposition from arguably the state’s most powerful Democratic politician: Senate President Mike Miller.

Democrats’ objections to Taney are rooted in his authoring of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which held that descendants of Africans imported as slaves into the U.S. could not be American citizens.  In 2015, Governor Larry Hogan defended the Taney statue in Annapolis in the Washington Post.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) says he is opposed to a change in the state song and likened the effort to calls for removing the statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, author of the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision, from the grounds of the State House.

“It’s political correctness run amok,” Hogan said in an interview last week. “Where do we stop? Do we get rid of the George Washington statues out here and take down all the pictures from all the people from the Colonial era that were slave owners? Do we change the name of Washington County, Carroll County and Calvert County?

“You can’t change history, and we’re not going to be able to rewrite history,” Hogan said. “And I don’t think we ought to be changing any of that.”

After Democrats including House Speaker Mike Busch pushed back this week, Hogan changed his mind and agreed to remove the statue.  The Governor was one of three members of the four-member board with jurisdiction over the statue to vote for removal.  But one member of the board objected to the process of deciding the issue by email: Senate President Mike Miller.  In his letter, Miller argued that Taney opposed slavery and “freed his slaves early in his life,” joined an “anti-kidnapping society” to protect free blacks and remained loyal to the Union until his death.  Miller also cited support for the statue from former Baltimore City Delegate Pete Rawlings and a descendant of Dred Scott.  We reprint the letter below.

Whatever one thinks of Miller’s opinion, it’s a big headache for Maryland Democrats.  Much of their strategy to oppose Governor Hogan has been to criticize him for silence in the face of actions by President Donald Trump.  That strategy has affected the behavior of the Governor, who just said that Trump “made a terrible mistake” in his comments on the white supremacist invasion of Charlottesville.  But what of Miller?  If his comments on the Taney statue had come from Hogan, Maryland Democrats would be swarming all over him.  What happens when such sentiments come from one of the most powerful Democrats in the state?

One Democrat who did not blanch from criticizing the Senate President was Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18), who is running for Governor.  Madaleno wrote on Facebook that Miller “is wrong.”

The rest of the Democrats now have a choice.  They can be intellectually honest and take on one of the leaders of their party.  Or they can ignore Miller and look like hypocrites.

As with Hogan on Trump, silence is not an option.

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Madaleno Releases Video Pointing Out Hogan and Trump Made Same Points on Statues

This morning, Richard Madaleno’s gubernatorial released a video demonstrating how Trump’s words on Tuesday defending white supremacists in Charlottesville parallel closely similar statements made previously by Gov. Larry Hogan. Sen. Madaleno has been Hogan’s strongest critic in the General Assembly, and his campaign now reveals the same willingness to go after the Governor.

On Tuesday, Trump stated:

So this week, it is Robert E. Lee, I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop.

Defending the statue of Justice Taney, author of the infamous Dred Scott decision, on Lawyers Mall in the heart of the State Capitol complex, Hogan said similarly:

What you say let’s take down the Taney statue. We have Thurgood Marshall on this side and Taney on that side. They’re both part of our history. We just opened a couple days ago the Old Senate Chamber. Where George Washington resigned his commission. George Washington was a slave owner. Should we remove him from the State House?

In other words, Hogan showed himself able even earlier than Trump to make facile, benighted comparisons between the father of our country and other more contemptible figures because both are “part of history.” Should we put up statues of traitorous Benedict Arnold? What about corrupt Spiro Agnew? They too are a “part of history.”

As Eugene Robinson explained well, despite their imperfections, founders like Washington and Jefferson  “laid out a set of principles, later codified in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, that transcended their flaws.” In contrast, the centerpiece of Taney’s work was a decision widely considered the worst in American history for its denial of the basic humanity of black Americans and declaring that they remained property even if they escaped bondage and found refuge in free territory.

It’s sad that Hogan could not see the difference until this week.

[Note: I am a supporter of Madaleno’s campaign.]

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Hogan Abuses Constituents on Facebook

By Adam Pagnucco.

Evidently frustrated by having his message eclipsed by the stunning behavior of President Donald Trump, thin-skinned Governor Larry Hogan is now lashing out at constituents on Facebook.

Hogan, who has blocked constituents from his Facebook page in the past, put up a post on redistricting on June 3.  The post linked to an article blasting General Assembly Democrats on a website run by right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham.  But some folks weren’t buying what Hogan was selling and that set the Governor off.

One person posted – politely – on President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty.

Hogan accused her of “spouting off.”

Hogan wasn’t done, saying, “You obviously have no idea what you are talking about” and referring to her comments as an “off topic, incorrect rant.”

Another constituent expressed support for the General Assembly’s bill providing for multi-state redistricting, which Hogan vetoed.  Hogan said she was part of a “tiny minority” and encouraged her to “stop liking our page.”

And that wasn’t enough.  Hogan came back for more even as outraged constituents pushed back.

When another constituent asked about the Paris climate treaty, Hogan responded, “You are not only off topic but ill informed.”

When asked about the climate treaty again, Hogan said, “Yes. We are leading the nation on this subject. Pay attention.”

Facebook can be an unruly environment for political discussion.  Constituents are real, live people and don’t always restrict their remarks to the topics favored by politicians.  Elected officials and candidates have a right to ban racist, anti-Semitic, bigoted, sexist, profane or libelous commentary from their pages.  But none of the above comments fall into those categories.  None of them warrant the rude responses written under the Governor’s name.

Hogan owes these folks an apology.

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