BEDFORD — While he considers the possibility of taking on Hillary Clinton in a Democratic presidential primary, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley today said the way out of America’s economic difficulties is push for wage equality, inclusion and to ditch what he called a failed policy of “trickle-down” economics.
O’Malley told a large group of business people and political leaders at a “Politics and Eggs” breakfast it is also time to address the huge debt faced by college students.
“It’s outrageous that you can buy a home for a lower interest rate than you can get a student loan,” O’Malley said. “We need some very, very serious consideration to making it easier and to find a way to refinance a lot of the debt that kids are under today.”
“We found a way to bail out the banks,” O’Malley said. “We should be able to find a way to bail out the American dream” for college students.
Republicans accused Democratic Party leaders of trying to “stamp out a serious primary challenge to Hillary Clinton,” yet several state party leaders were in the audience at the Bedford Village Inn.
O’Malley did not mention Clinton in his 40-minute address and question-and-answer session.
But he focused on a traditional message of growing the economy by strengthening he middle class.
He defended President Obama for making difficult decisions in difficult times after taking office. “They were necessary for our common good,” he said.
He said that in Maryland, where he served as governor from 2007 though 2014, “We cast aside the failed, worn out trickle down exclusive economic policy of our past that drove us into that recession and instead we embraced the politics of inclusion.”
“Because we understand that a stronger middle class is actually the cause of all economic growth,” he said, “we became the first state in the nation to pass a living wage law. We passed a minimum wage law. We passed a prevailing wage” and extended it to more projects.
“We expanded collective bargaining, made it easier for workers to have their voices heard because we wanted wages to go up and not down,” O’Malley said. “No economy has ever succeeded by concentrating wealth at the very top and hoping eventually the clouds would burst.”
O’Malley said that during his tenure, “We passed marriage equality. We passed the DREAM Act. We made it possible for hard-working new American moms and dads to actually get a driver’s license so they could get to and from work and take care of their family. We affirmed the truth that we’re all in this together.”
O’Malley said that while there has been job growth for 60 consecutive months, “Wages in America for the vast majority of moms and dads and their families have actually been doing down over the past 12 years and not up. Until wages start going up, until we made the American dream true again around the kitchen tables of America, we can’t let up.”
Nationally he called for an increase in the minimum wage and to “raise the threshold for overtime pay. We have to expand Social Security and not dismantle it, and make investments” in education.
“It seems like one party is entirely owned by big money and the other party is nearly intimidated by it,” O’Malley said. “People expect better. They work hard and play by the rules, and they expect Wall Street to play by the rules and they expect their government to be on their side.”
He said that when “refugee kids” risk death and starvation to get to the United States, “We don’t pen them up and turn them away at the border. We welcome them as the generous and compassionate people we have always been. Because the enduring image of this country is not the barbed wire fence, it is the Statue of Liberty.”