O'Malley Touts "Fiscal Responsibility"
At first blush, last year's special legislative session in Maryland might seem a curious couple of weeks for Gov. Martin O'Malley(D) to voluntarily revisit. Multiple taxes were increased, and whatever the benefit to the state's finances, it came at a considerable loss to the governor's popularity.
But in a speech in Washington last week, O'Malley (D) spotlighted the session, casting it as an exercise in restoring "fiscal responsibility," a phrase that appeared in his remarks no fewer than 17 times.
"Nothing we did was popular, and nothing we accomplished in the three-week special session was easy," O'Malley told a lunchtime audience at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank headed by John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.
O'Malley argued that, by cutting the state budget and raising taxes, Maryland had taken an important step toward preserving its priorities for future generations.
"When faced with a crippling structural deficit in Maryland, we asked our neighbors to embrace, once again, the politics of posterity," O'Malley said, making use of a catchphrase that increasingly finds its way into his public remarks.
The politics of posterity, he explained, is "the politics which embraces the duty we have not only to our neighbors, but also to the next generation."
O'Malley ticked off a long list of initiatives that he suggested would not have been possible if not for the special session. Among them: holding the line on college tuition for a third year in a row, spending record amounts on public school construction, expanding subsidized health insurance and knocking out a backlog of DNA samples at a state lab.
The governor faced a friendly audience that asked no hostile questions. His ability to make the same pitch to more skeptical voters could well determine his reelection prospects in 2010.
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