GBC’s Fry: Business bashing

Don Fry Commentary on WYPR

In Maryland, as state lawmakers grapple with looming operating budget deficits and transportation funding priorities, businesses once again are in the crosshairs of tax advocates.

A number of our state’s elected leaders have recently voiced strong support for closing the state’s corporate tax loopholes, raising corporate taxes and enacting other tax measures that could directly impact our business climate.

Of course, elected officials have a right and responsibility to examine all options for closing deficits and ensuring that government is efficiently operated.

But there is something fundamentally perplexing about the prevailing attitude among many office holders who seem to view businesses as wealthy adversaries instead of job generators and economic engines.

In Maryland, this attitude is articulated by lawmakers who are fond of saying that they care more about “Main Street” than “Wall Street.” Taxing business is often portrayed as the logical first step in any revenue-raising process.

Stop and think for a minute about this connotation that, in an economy and a nation based on business investment and a vibrant private sector, somehow “businesses are bad.”

Conversely that would mean – for our employers, manufacturers and sellers of our products, providers of our services and, oh yes, the companies in our 401-K portfolios – that increasing their business costs is inherently good?

Do we really believe that?

Or is it just that, when we’re putting together government budgets, we suspend belief in what we know is the reality — that businesses provide jobs and opportunity for people …

… And that a healthy business environment nurtures job creation and opportunity…

… And that the relationship between business and taxes is inverse – that is, the higher the taxes, the less business investment in a region or state. The more business investment and economic activity, the less there is a need for higher taxes.

I think we all inherently know this. We just need to remind ourselves once in a while that we live in and enjoy a free market system where business is not the enemy.

For the Regional Business Report, this is Don Fry, President & CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, for 88.1 WYPR, your NPR news station.

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