Martin O'Malley: The Great Deceiver - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Martin O’Malley: The Great Deceiver

Martin O’Malley wants to be president. He wants the job so badly he’s apparently perfectly willing to re-write history. To just refuse to tell the truth. 

In his announcement speech for president the other day, O’Malley, the man who governed both Baltimore and then Maryland for years, stood in front of the cameras and practiced the political game of — there’s no other way to say it — lying by omission. Said the would-be president:

We have work to do.

Our economic and political system is upside down and backwards and it is time to turn it around.

What happened to our economy — what happened to the American Dream — did not happen by chance.

Nor was it merely the result of global forces somehow beyond our control.

Powerful, wealthy special interests here at home have used our government to create — in our own country — an economy that is leaving a majority of our people behind.

An economy that has so concentrated wealth in the hands of the very few that it has taken opportunity from the homes of the many.

An economy where a majority of our people are unheard, unseen, un-needed, and left to conclude that their lives and labors are literally worth less today than they were yesterday. And will be worth less still tomorrow.

We are allowing our land of opportunity to be turned into a land of inequality.

Main Street struggles, while Wall Street soars.

Tell me how it is, that not a single Wall Street CEO was convicted of a crime related to the 2008 economic meltdown. Not. A. Single. One.

Tell me how it is, that you can get pulled over for a broken tail light in our country, but if you wreck the nation’s economy you are untouchable.

This is not how our economy is supposed to work!

This is not how our country is supposed to work!

This is not the American Dream!

And it does not have to be this way!

Amazing, yes? There is a candidate standing front and center to make an announcement speech for president of the United States apparently clueless as to the origin of the 2008 crash. Unless, of course, O’Malley isn’t clueless at all but is instead simply bowing as low as he possibly can to the great Liberal God of Big Government.

To say: “What happened to our economy — what happened to the American Dream — did not happen by chance” is correct. As a matter of fact, it is 100% correct. 

But to then go on to blame the crash on the financial system — meaning “Wall Street” as O’Malley puts it — is a flat untruth. The cause of the financial crisis of 2008 — which O’Malley is terrified of saying because he needs to have all those left-wingers in his party to beat Hillary — is government. Specifically the Jimmy Carter-era (1977) Community Reinvestment Act which, as Peter J. Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute noted way back in this American Spectator article from 2009, “vaguely mandated regulators to consider whether an insured bank was serving the needs of the ‘whole’ community.” Which is to say the government ball was rolling in the direction of forcing banks to make loans to unqualified buyers.

Then? Then what always happens in the liberal world of Big Government. What was done in 1993 Just Wasn’t Enough to help create more homeowners. Writes Wallison:

For 16 years, the act was invoked rather infrequently, but 1993 marked a decisive turn in its enforcement. What changed? Substantial media and political attention was showered upon a 1992 Boston Federal Reserve Bank study of discrimination in home mortgage lending. This study concluded that, while there was no overt discrimination in banks’ allocation of mortgage funds, loan officers gave whites preferential treatment. The methodology of the study has since been questioned, but at the time it was highly influential with regulators and members of the incoming Clinton administration; in 1993, bank regulators initiated a major effort to reform the CRA regulations.

In 1995, the regulators created new rules that sought to establish objective criteria for determining whether a bank was meeting CRA standards. Examiners no longer had the discretion they once had. For banks, simply proving that they were looking for qualified buyers wasn’t enough. Banks now had to show that they had actually made a requisite number of loans to low- and moderate-income (LMI) borrowers. The new regulations also required the use of “innovative or flexible” lending practices to address credit needs of LMI borrowers and neighborhoods. 

Thus, a law that was originally intended to encourage banks to use safe and sound practices in lending now required them to be “innovative” and “flexible.” In other words, it called for the relaxation of lending standards, and it was the bank regulators who were expected to enforce these relaxed standards.

And with that, the crash of 2008 was set in serious motion. 

Wallison, of course, wasn’t the only one who took the time to track the details of just what went wrong with Big Government involvement in the collapse of 2008. The New York Times’s Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Gretchen Morgenson wrote an entire book on the subject. Titled: Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Created the Worst Financial Crisis of Our Time. Morgenson exposed “how the watchdogs who were supposed to protect the country from financial harm were actually complicit in the actions that finally blew up the American economy.” In vivid detail Morgenson tells the tales of the tangled web woven by Fannie Mae, the Federal Reserve, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Congress — who then drew in Wall Streeters and private mortgage companies like Goldman Sachs and Countrywide Financial. 

There’s no point in rehashing all of the sordid details of greedy government officials — in Morgenson’s words “the watchdogs” — who lit the fuse.

There is very much a point in understanding that O’Malley — a would-be president or Cabinet officer in a Democratic Administration — is in fact kicking off his campaign by flatly refusing to discuss any of this. And since he brought up the subject it would be his obligation to honestly report the facts.

It doesn’t take a village to understand why O’Malley is silent. His public career extends from his election to the Baltimore City Council in 1991 all the way through serving two terms each as Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland, leaving the latter office just this year. If there would be anyone who would have an intimate familiarity with the kinds of issues separately detailed by Wallison and Morgenson it would be someone who served as a councilman, mayor, and governor in the lead up to the crisis in the 1990s and through the 2000s. 

Why won’t O’Malley go there?

Presumably because to do so would forfeit the interlocking web of left-wing constituencies who have a vested interested in slamming Wall Street while letting government institutions off the hook. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal noted the same curious pattern in O’Malley’s speech as he touched on the issue of “inequality.” Said the WSJ

The otherwise proud progressive has mostly refrained from talking publicly about Baltimore and Maryland. Who can blame him? 

Unemployment in Baltimore is 8.1%, and the city’s population has declined by about 35,000 since 1999. The median household income of blacks is about half that of whites, even as Mr. O’Malley campaigns against inequality.

In other words? As with the financial crisis of 2008, when it comes to pinning the tail of responsibility on the donkey of big government, Martin O’Malley simply refuses to go there. Because to do so would mean acknowledging the entire set of principles of the progressive left have proved not simply a governing failure — but a governing disaster.

You can’t run a presidential campaign — a successful one at least — by telling Americans that in fact what you are advocating is not only just wrong but a complete and total — and economically dangerous — failure. A failure that wound up severely punishing the finances of millions of American families.

And so over the last weekend America was introduced to progressive champion Martin O’Malley. Watching fascinated as the realization dawns that a presidential candidate is going to run an entire campaign refusing to tell the truth. Not to mention promising to do more of the same if elected.

You can’t make this stuff up. Unless, of course, you are Martin O’Malley and you need to.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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