Political Hay

Beware of Gov. O’Malley, Part II

Since April, Martin O'Malley has given Americans multiple reasons not to vote for him.

By 8.9.13

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In April I wrote about why Americans should be wary of Maryland’s Democratic chief executive with big plans for the White House. At the time I noted how under his administration taxes and fees had been raised 37 times and how he pushed for a gas tax and environmental regulations costing businesses and nonprofits thousands more per year in the most recent General Assembly session.

Last weekend in Milwaukee at a National Governors Association Meeting he came closer to announcing a presidential bid, telling reporters that “By the end of this year I think we’re on course to have a body of work that lays the framework for a candidacy in 2016.” Because of his talk it seems prime time for an update on why the former head of the Democratic Governors Association still would not make a good president.

Since April, he has given Americans multiple new reasons not to vote for him.

Let’s start with how Obamacare is playing out in Maryland. Mr. O’Malley was one of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) biggest supporters and argued the law would make health care more affordable and accessible and improve its quality.

So far the only real result is the fact that health care premiums will skyrocket in the state under the law. According to an August 2 report in Investor’s Business Daily that analyzed both a Government Accountability Office study and one from the Maryland Insurance Administration, the average price of the cheapest plans available now in the state will be 83 percent higher under the ACA, rising from $744 to $1,368.

He has not yet explained how such a steep rise in health care costs will “support our competitiveness in the global economy” -- one of his frequent refrains -- or make it easier for the young healthy people who must buy insurance to make the legislation viable able to do so.

Last week the state’s exchange became less competitive as Aetna canceled plans to participate in it. According to a report in the Baltimore Sun, the company told Maryland Insurance Commissioner Therese Goldsmith that the rates regulators wanted the company to offer “would not allow us to collect enough premiums to cover the cost of the plans.”

Second, Mr. O’Malley is pushing for sweeping environmental regulations in the coming year that will drive up the state’s electricity rates by forcing utilities to use more wind and solar energy -- 25 percent by 2020 -- without impacting greenhouse gases. As Lord Christopher Monckton, former science adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said a couple of years ago, “If you were to shut Maryland down entirely, our emissions would be taken up by China in less than a month." By his estimates, eliminating greenhouse gases would cost $7.3 trillion by 2050.

Since Maryland is already known as a place hostile to business, it’s hard to see how higher electric rates will help businesses choose to open in Maryland or expand in the state or how similar policies at the national level would make America more competitive.

Third, for a man who wants to be commander in chief, he has made no comments that I can find on the multiple national security scandals illuminating how deeply and widely the federal government monitors Americans. Since much of it takes place from the National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade where thousands of Marylanders work in intelligence gathering as contractors or full-time government employees, his weighing in on the proper role of the federal government would be particularly appropriate. Given his sterling progressive credentials as one who supports gay marriage and other personal liberty causes, it also behooves him to lay out a philosophy of security incorporating his other beliefs.

He said this weekend that America is going through a “crisis of confidence.” More confidence will not make health care premiums drop. Neither will more confidence lower utility bills or protect us from al Qaeda. Self-esteem talk is for Oprah, not the Oval Office. May the field widen, broadly.

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About the Author
Marta H. Mossburg writes frequently about national affairs and about politics in Maryland, where she lives.  Write her at marta@martamossburg.com. Follow her on Twitter at @mmossburg.