On Sunday's "Face the Nation," CBS host Bob Schieffer asked Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley: "Can you honestly say that people are better off today than they were four years ago?" In a rare moment of candor, O'Malley replied: "No, but that's not the question of this election."
With all due respect, Governor, that is the only question of this election. Before he walked back his statement on Monday, O'Malley was indeed correct that Americans are worse off after four years of Obama in the White House. But it's equally true that Marylanders are worse off after five years of O'Malley in Annapolis.
According to Department of Labor statistics, unemployment in Maryland in July 2008 -- six months after Obama took office and a year after O'Malley moved into the governor's mansion -- stood at 4.5 percent. In July 2012, it hit 7.1 percent.
Areas with the highest concentrations of African-Americans in Maryland fared even worse. In Baltimore City, where O'Malley served as mayor before being elected governor, unemployment surged from 7 percent in July 2008 to 11.1 percent four years later. Similar dismal results were seen in Prince George's, where joblessness jumped from 4.6 percent in July 2008 to 7.1 percent in July 2012.
With a record like this, it took a lot of chutzpah for the head of the Democratic Governors Association to attack one of his peers. O'Malley had the nerve to suggest that Ohio voters should be suffering from "buyer's remorse" after electing Republican John Kasich as governor in 2010. Ohio has produced three times as many jobs as Maryland in the last 18 months: 122,500 versus 37,300.
Indeed, the Free State lost four times as many jobs since 2007 as neighboring Virginia, which also has a conservative Republican governor. Tens of thousands of Maryland taxpayers have already voted with their feet, fleeing the state to avoid the 24 punishing taxes and fees imposed by O'Malley since he took office.
The lesson learned is that governors who remain mindful of the connection between low taxes and job growth can help shield their constituents from the worst of an economic downturn and Washington's bad policies. But in states like Maryland, where liberal governors' tax-and-spend policies just mirror the profligacy at the federal level, taxpayers don't stand a chance.