O'Malley 'moving Maryland backward,' RGA claims
The Republican Governors Association has put its own spin on Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's campaign theme of "moving Maryland forward." In a television advertisement out today, the RGA proclaims O'Malley is "moving Maryland backward."
The well-off organization is lending a hand to former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican trying to win back the governor's office this fall. In addition to the 30-second spot, the RGA has created a web site titled "Martin's Mess." As we reported this morning on this blog, the spot is a sign that the RGA believes Ehrlich can win the race.
As of late August campaign finance reports, O'Malley had about three times as much money in the bank as Ehrlich. The RGA ad comes as O'Malley launches one in the pricey Washington TV market. O'Malley's spot focuses on education -- a striking change from two attack ads he recently aired in the Baltimore market.
We "truth squad" the RGA ad below the virtual fold, where you can also view the spot itself.
Ad claim: "Unemployment has doubled."
Fact: Maryland's unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in January 2007, when O'Malley took office. Last month, according to numbers out today, it was 7.3 percent. Both numbers are seasonally adjusted.
Ad claim: "More than 3,000 Maryland businesses have closed or moved to other states."
Fact: Each year, thousands of businesses register for unemployment insurance, and thousands more close their accounts. Maryland ended 2009 with a net of 2,900 fewer such accounts than it had at the end of 2008, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
The Sun reported this number as a net loss of businesses in front-page articles in January and July. Today, for the first time, the agency is disputing the number as "not a valid way of looking at businesses starting up or closing down," DLLR spokesman Bernie Kohn said.
Kohn explains that very small businesses, such as mom-and-pop shops with no other employees, don't have to open unemployment insurance accounts. However, families who employ nannies or other household help do have to register. So when a family no longer employs a nanny, it closes the unemployment insurance account -- not exactly a "business closing," Kohn said. Also, Kohn said, DLLR purged more inactive accounts from its unemployment rolls last year than it had in the past, perhaps explaining away part of the 2,900 number.
Ad claim: "O’Malley passed the largest tax increase in history .. A 20 percent sales tax hike ... Job-killing taxes on business."
Fact: The Sun has examined in detail the taxing records of O'Malley and Ehrlich. Both raised taxes. You can read that story here.
O'Malley has not disputed the "largest tax increase claim," a refrain repeated nearly daily by Ehrlich on the campaign trail. O'Malley signed into law a penny-per-dollar sales tax increase, raising it to 6 cents on the dollar -- a 20 percent hike. The "job-killing" bit is subjective. Supporters of the governor, as well as some economists, like to point out that businesses consider many things apart from taxes -- education, work force, quality of life -- when deciding to locate or expand in Maryland.
Ad claim: "And now O’Malley says he’s open to raising taxes again."
Fact: O'Malley has said that he does not intend to raise taxes if elected to a second term.