Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who is weighing a White House bid in 2016, on Thursday held up Maryland as a model of a progressive state that has adopted policies beneficial to the middle class.
Speaking at a Washington think tank, the two-term governor touted accolades his state has received for its education system, its nation-leading median income, its investments in science and research and its number of women-owned businesses.
“These are the better results that have flowed from the better choices we have made together as a people,” O’Malley said during a speech sponsored by the Center For American Progress Action Fund that was attended by several national journalists.
The speech was notable for its heavy emphasis on O’Malley’s work in Maryland, which is certain to be a staple of campaign speeches if he moves forward with a presidential bid.
While O’Malley has addressed national audiences before, his focus during much of last year was touting the accomplishments of President Obama or Democratic governors more generally — not himself.
During his remarks, O’Malley touted the state’s passage of a “living-wage” law, its spending increases on education even during the recession, its low tuition increases for public university students and its expansion of subsidized health care.
O’Malley’s appearance coincided with the center’s release of a new policy booklet titled “States at Work: Progressive State Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class.” (Among the authors was Maryland Del. Tom Hucker (D-Montgomery).
“In Maryland, we have implemented many of the policy suggestions that you outline in your report — and they are delivering better results: better results for a stronger middle class,” O’Malley said.
While he was warmly received by the audience, O’Malley was later lambasted by Diana Waterman, chairwoman of the Maryland Republican Party, for spending time with “the liberal elites in Washington, D.C.”
She painted a very different picture of O’Malley’s record, saying he has “left us with outrageously high taxes, a hostile regulatory environment and thousands of people who are closing shop or leaving the state for greener pastures. This ‘progress’ he likes to boast about will be a tough sell to voters in Iowa and tax-wary New Hampshire.”
O’Malley, the former chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, also took a few shots at his Republican counterparts on Thursday, criticizing the way they responded to the recession.
“States with Republican governors generally tried to cut their way to prosperity,” O’Malley said. “Most found this only made things worse. Eliminating the jobs of police officers, firefighters, and teachers at a scale rarely seen. Cutting public education. Hiking up college tuition by double digits every year. Continuing down the merry path of cutting taxes for the very wealthy, hoping against cruel experience that somehow it would trickle down to the rest of us. In Maryland, we made different and better choices.”