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Smigiel- You're kind to have a discussion on your blog with a critic who isn't even in your district. For sure you're earning the portion of my taxes that pay your salary. I've been watching the legislative process pretty closely for a long time, and <a href="">the first house GOP floor amendments with specific line item spending cuts</a> I found during Gov. O'Malley's term were <a href="">two offered in March 2008</a> totaling $600 million, which is a fraction the over $4 billion Gov. O'Malley and the Democrats actually trimmed from state budgets in the current term. If you have more examples of line item specific spending reductions proposed by GOP legislators, please post links and/or references. Let's say you prove me wrong and you're right that you and your GOP legislative colleagues have valiantly offered amendments over the past 7 years, at the committee level and on the floor, to cut specific line item spending in amounts equal to or greater than the tax increases you voted against. How’s that program working out for you? Rita Mae Brown said, "Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results." Time and time again, editorialists, bloggers, and other critics <a href="">inclu ding the chairman of your own party</a>, have called on Maryland Republicans to produce a detailed alternative budget proposal, conspicuously offering up your vision of taxing, spending, and governing in Maryland. Instead we get two-page double spaced press releases calling for across the board percentage cuts (How would you cut every item across the board by 25%? Equip police cars with 3 tires instead of 4?) or the most bizarre of all, <a href="">saying you have a plan to balance the budget with 50 individual line items, but refusing to show it to anyone</a>. You know, it just dawned on me that it’s not too late pull that secret list of 50 cuts out of the filing cabinet—you know, the one you and your GOP colleagues never showed anyone. Scan itand submit it to the governor’s budget suggestion website. Your secret would be safe with him—as you pointed out, it’s a confidential suggestion box and submissions aren’t published. - Steve Lebowitz, Annapolis

PS – If we can return to Adam Smith for one minute, I forgot to mention earlier the chief knock on today’s conservatives staking a claim to his legacy that any environmentalist worth his salt should be able to tell you. Smith published Wealth of Nations, at the dawn of revolutions—the American Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. Depletion, pollution, and despoliation were unknown to eighteenth century Western thinkers, so these costs never factored in his excruciatingly comprehensive evaluations. If Adam Smith were writing in 1876, or 1976, or today, I have no doubt that Book I, Ch. XI, “Of the Rent of Land” would address the impact of agricultural and manufacturing processes on the health of individuals and the environment. Smith advocated free trade, free money, and activity neutral tax collection, but he had nothing to say about workplace safety, hazardous materials, or the aforementioned depletion, pollution, and despoliation. Today’s conservatives have no business appropriating his silence on these matters as some kind of endorsement of their contemporary politics. Smith lived in simpler times, Del. Smigiel, and these matters affecting your life and mine every day were simply unknown to him and his contemporaries. - SL