An Economic Border War Right Under Washington’s Nose
What’s the fiercest rivalry in American politics today? There’s Obama-Romney, of course, but try O’Malley-McDonnell—neighboring governors battling across the Potomac River over how best to resuscitate a moribund economy.
Martin O’Malley, Maryland’s liberal Democratic governor, is competing for jobs, businesses and tax dollars with Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s conservative Republican chief executive. Both are rising stars considered potential presidential hopefuls in 2016. Both are Irish Catholics—Mr. McDonnell playfully calls Mr. O’Malley “the big Irishman to our north”—and each leads his party’s association of governors. The two regularly spar on the Sunday talk shows, on the pages of Washington-area newspapers, and over the radio.
Each man seems obsessed with proving that his economic model has outperformed the other’s. Mr. O’Malley, a former crime-fighting Baltimore mayor now in his second term in Annapolis, is an unapologetic tax-and-spender. He has adopted the rhetoric of the left that every government program is an “investment.”
Mr. O’Malley raised taxes on Maryland’s millionaires in 2007, but much of the revenue he hoped to generate never materialized—partly because there were fewer millionaires to tax. He’s since won increases in the state’s sales tax, tobacco tax, gas tax, and income tax for earners above $100,000 a year. When we spoke this week, he called raising taxes “a balanced approach” to reducing deficit spending, echoing President Obama.