Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

June 3, 2014

A new twist

Candidates taking the pledge to raise taxes

— Candidates for political office can generally be counted on to make certain promises, chief among them the pledge to create new jobs (which we find amusing when it comes from incumbents, whom we want to ask “Why haven’t you done that already?”)

Time was, you weren’t likely to hear candidates promise to raise taxes ... but that has changed in recent years. Some are no longer fearful of promising to raise taxes — but only on certain things.

Recently, 216 candidates for the Maryland General Assembly signed a pledge to do what they can to increase cigarette taxes by $1 a pack during the next legislative session. If all of them were elected, that number would be sufficient to ensure its passage.

At least one of them, a Republican, said he would vote for it only if other taxes were lowered. Good luck with that.

Some legislators love “sin taxes” on such things as alcohol, tobacco and — of course — legalized gambling. They are considered a source of revenue that can be spent on in ways the legislators feel are worthwhile.

Taxes passed by Maryland’s legislature already have driven many consumers to cross the border, particularly to buy cigarettes in places like West Virginia, where the taxes aren’t so high.

One of the ironic things about the proposal to increase cigarette taxes is that it comes at a time when the state has decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and made it a civil offense.

Some of our candidates and current politicians would like to legalize marijuana possession altogether. Why would they do such a thing?

Silly question.

They want to tax it.

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