By Len Lazarick
A senior Trump economic adviser told a Maryland business group Tuesday that Maryland should become more like Texas, cutting taxes and regulations to spur economic growth.
Economist Steve Moore of the Heritage Foundation told a breakfast meeting of the conservative Maryland Business for Responsive Government that Donald Trump would win the national election, perhaps even win Maryland, and cause a major realignment of the Republican Party.
Moore recently moved to Potomac, Md. from northern Virginia. “Maryland has actually made some [economic] progress,” he said, while “Virginia is going in the wrong direction” and is becoming “more liberal,” as is Delaware.
But he also said, “you have to be a right-to-work state,” as is Virginia, where union membership cannot be required for any job. Moore also criticized Maryland’s current holdup on natural gas fracking (hydraulic fracturing). “Being against fracking is like being against a cure for cancer,” he said.
Moore’s message was music to the ears of a business group that consistently gives poor grades to Maryland’s dominant Democratic legislators, and advocates for a more business friendly climate.
MBRG President Duane Carey said the group was concerned about legislation impacting business that might pass in the coming legislative session, such as renewed efforts to pass mandatory paid sick leave and advanced scheduling for work hours.
“Each year Maryland business gets squeezed ever more,” Carey said. “With every passing year, it gets harder to do business in Maryland.”
Carey urged businesses not to donate to legislators who score poorly on the group’s annual Roll Call report.
Dump the state income tax
Moore displayed graphs showing population moving to Florida and Texas, while California and New York decline. And it’s not just about the weather, he said.
Florida and Texas are among the nine states that have no personal income tax. “Why not make Maryland look like Texas?” Moore asked, and dump the personal income tax. Maryland has among the highest state income tax rates in the nation combined with the county piggyback taxes.
Texas grew more jobs since the 2008 Great Recession than the rest of the other states combined, he said. Much of that was the result of the energy boom and extraction of new oil reserves from shale through fracking.
“What bailed [Obama] out [on the economy] was fracking,” Moore said.
Loves Trump voters
Moore described himself as a somewhat hesitant convert to the Trump campaign. He said at their first meeting in Dallas last year, he told the real estate tycoon, “I’m not sure I love you but I love your voters.”
They are middle class workers, “many of them union members,” who are “angry at both parties,” mainly due to a “pathetic” economic recovery.
“I really believe that there are going to be a lot of surprises in November,” Moore said. “I really believe that Maryland is winnable in November,” both for the U.S. Senate seat and for president.
Moore said he was “a big fan” of Republican senate nominee Kathy Szeliga, the House of Delegates minority whip who attended the MBRG breakfast at the BWI Hilton.
Moore’s predictions run contrary to recent public polling in Maryland that shows Maryland as a solidly Democratic state that has consistently supported Democrats for president and senate. Moore said there was a silent group of voters reluctant to state their support for Trump.
He said after Trump’s victory, the Republican Party “will be more a populist, working class party.”