Saturday, January 31, 2015
Bernie Sanders is in his natural state – of agitation.
It’s just 9 a.m., but the socialist senator, contemplating a presidential run as a Democrat or as a populist independent, is red in the face and his white hair askew. In a conference room at The Washington Post, he’s raising his voice, thumping his index finger on the table and gesturing so wildly that his hand comes within inches of political reporter Karen Tumulty’s face.
“We are living in the United States right now at a time when the top one-tenth of 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent,” the Vermont lawmaker says in his native Brooklyn accent.
“One family, the Walton family of Wal-Mart, owns by itself more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the American people.”
And then there are the Kochs, “the second-wealthiest family in America, worth $85 billion . . . who are now prepared to buy the United States government.”
“You’re looking at the undermining of American democracy, okay?”
Okay, okay, okay. I remark on his prodigious indignation.
“It’s early in the morning,” Sanders boasts. “Catch me later in the afternoon.”
The real outrage, though, is that so few people share his fury.
There’s widespread agreement about the problem – that inequality is as bad as it has been in America since the crash of ’29. Even Republican leaders are talking about it (their solution, alas, is a tax system with even more breaks for the wealthy.) But there’s no sign yet of the mass anger that could turn into a political movement.
This is the week we would have seen it. As my colleague Matea Gold reported, the Koch brothers and their fundraising network plan to spend $889 million on the 2016 race. That sort of brazen bid to buy an election should come with naming rights – perhaps the Charles G. and David H. Koch White House, to match the Charles G. and David H. Koch United States Senate they financed in 2014. A half-dozen of those whose new Senate seats were acquired with Koch money attended a Koch confab in Palm Springs over the weekend to thank their patrons.
But the news elicited no more outrage than did previous acquisitions of the House of Representatives (a.k.a. Citi Field). “The anger is there,” Sanders says, but “it’s an anger that turns into saying, ‘Go to hell, I’m not going to participate in your charade. I’m not voting.’ So it’s a weird kind of anger. It’s not people getting out in the streets . . . We’re at the stage of demoralization.”
That leaves Sanders’s populist candidacy in an awkward place. He can mount a symbolic primary campaign against Hillary Clinton that goes nowhere. “Can you mobilize people? Can you tap the anger that’s out there?” Sanders asks rhetorically. “The answer is — you know what? — I don’t exactly know that we can.”
Or he can run as an independent and perhaps take enough votes in a general election to be a spoiler. But he doesn’t seem inclined to be a Ralph Nader, who doomed Al Gore in 2000 and saw no difference between the two parties. “There is a difference,” says Sanders, who caucuses with Senate Democrats.
Sanders faults President Obama for the current demoralization. “I think he had a moment in history to do what President Roosevelt did in 1932,” he says. “He had the opportunity to say to the American people, ‘Look, millions of people have lost jobs . . . [and] it’s because of what JP Morgan did, it’s because of what Morgan Stanley did, what Goldman Sachs did.”
“Is that moment today?” Sanders continues. “No. . . . I think he lost that extraordinary opportunity.” Democrats remain “too tepid” in taking on big money, and Clinton won’t be “as bold as she needs to be.”
Clinton comes from the corporate wing of the party. Though there are nascent signs of a tea party of the left emerging, no candidate represents it. Sanders, 73, is charismatically challenged, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has more flair, doesn’t appear to be contemplating a run. Even if she did, the primaries are so dominated by big money that it’s not clear Warren could pose a viable challenge to Clinton.
No wonder Sanders is so agitated. “You have to take on the Koch brothers and you have to take on Wall Street and you have to take on the billionaires,” he says, gesticulating madly and fuming about the “oligarchy” running government. “Not to get you too nervous,” he says, but “I think you need a political revolution.”
As Sanders is learning, you can’t have a populist revolution without people.
Friday, January 30, 2015
WASHINGTON (AP) -- After a three-week flirtation with a new campaign for the White House, Mitt Romney announced Friday that he will not seek the presidency in 2016.Pretty heavy price for Romney to pay for joining the Alfalfa Club, if you ask me.
"After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I've decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee," Romney told supporters on a conference call.
Romney's exit comes after several of his former major donors and a veteran staffer in the early voting state of Iowa defected to support former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would have served as Romney's most likely rivals for the support of the Republican Party's establishment-minded voters.
In his call with supporters, Romney appeared to take a swipe at Bush, saying it was time for fresh leadership within the GOP.
"I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well-known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee," Romney said. "In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case."
The former governor of Massachusetts, who is 67, had jumped back into the presidential discussion on Jan. 10, when he surprised a small group of former donors at a meeting in New York by telling them he was eyeing a third run for the White House.
It was a monumental change for Romney, who since losing the 2012 election to President Barack Obama had repeatedly told all who asked that his career in politics was over and he would not again run for president.
On Friday, Romney said he had been asked if there were any circumstance under which he would again reconsider. That, he said, "seems unlikely."
"Accordingly, I'm not organizing a PAC or taking donations," he said. "I'm not hiring a campaign team."
The exit of Romney from the campaign most immediately helps those viewed as part of the party's establishment wing, including Bush, Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
The more conservative side of the field is largely unchanged, with a group of candidates that will likely include Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
In the three weeks since the meeting in New York, which caught several in attendance off-guard, Romney made calls to former fundraisers, staff members and supporters, and gave three public speeches in which he outlined his potential vision for another campaign.
"I'm thinking about how I can help the country," he told hundreds of students Wednesday night at Mississippi State University.
In that speech, and what amounted to a campaign stop a few hours before at a barbecue restaurant with Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen in tow, Romney sounded every bit like a politician preparing to run.
"We need to restore opportunity, particularly for the middle class," Romney said then. "You deserve a job that can repay all you've spent and borrowed to go to college."
But as Romney sounded out his former team about putting together a new national campaign, he discovered that several of his past fundraisers had already made plans for 2016 and were now committed to Bush.
Several key former Romney donors told The Associated Press this week that in Bush they see someone who can successfully serve as president, as they believe Romney could. But they also think Bush has the personality and senior staff needed to win the White House, something the former Massachusetts governor could not bring together in his two previous presidential campaigns.
"I've got great respect for Gov. Romney, and I busted my buns for him," said Chicago investor Craig Duchossois, whose wife contributed $250,000 to a pro-Romney super PAC while he collected tens of thousands more for Romney's last campaign. "But I have turned the page."
Romney also lost one of his most trusted political advisers on Thursday when David Kochel joined Bush's team. Kochel, who led Romney's campaign in Iowa in 2008 and 2012, is in now line to play a senior role in Bush's campaign should he run.
Romney's decision against running clearly pained him, and he took no questions from supporters on Friday's call.
"You can't imagine how hard it is for Ann and me to step aside, especially knowing of your support and the support of so many people across the country," Romney said. "But we believe it is for the best of the party and the nation."
Romney’s announcement Friday comes a day before arriving in Washington for the annual dinner of the exclusive Alfalfa Club, where he is being inducted as a new member.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
28 January 2015
This is the new look of Coffee Talk. In order to serve you better I have teamed up with Commissioner Susan Burdette from the Town of Bel Air. In the last several years I have found that many of your questions and events overlap the County and the Town of Bel Air. Now you will have contact information for both your council representative and a town commissioner.
We are still working out the kinks on distribution. We do not want to send it as an attachment but we may have to do that until it is refined.
The Town of Bel Air has a new Town Administrator. Former Sheriff of Harford County L Jesse Bane has assumed the duties of Town Administrator after Dr. James Fielder was appointed “Appoints Secretary” by the Hogan administration.
Harford County planning officials were dealt a blow when SHA sent them a letter dated 21 January reversing their decision to deny ingress and egress off of MD 924 to the property at Plumtree Rd and 924. The reversal reportedly came after a September 17th meeting requested by WALMART with SHA in Baltimore. County officials say they stand by the Harford County Resolution passed 5 to 2 requesting denial of the access. Your councilman was not included in the “change Discussions” at all and has fired off a letter in opposition to reversing the decision.
Harford County has repealed the “RAIN TAX” County Exec Glassman said the county will still be good stewards when it comes to processing storm water run-off and protecting the Bay. Four other counties are considering dropping the fees as Harford County did or drastically reducing them.
JAN 28 CIM THE REGENT AT STONE HOUSE Community Input Meeting at Harford Technical High School Amoss Center beginning at 6 PM. This is a second CIM for this group after significant changes to the original plans were made.
YOUR SUPPORT OF APG IS URGENTLY NEEDED.
JAN 29 CITIZEN SUPPORT FOR APG. The Army is considering the cut of 4,300 in the workforce of APG. A community listening session will be held at 6PM at the Amoss Center in Harford Technical High School at 200 Thomas Run Road opposite the College. We need to pack the auditorium and demonstrate to the ARMY our commitment to APG and its tenant organizations that number more than 90. YOU MAKE THE DIFFERENCE HERE. TIME 6 PM TELL THE ARMY BRASS WHY APG IS IMPORTANT TO HARFORD COUNTY. EVERY VOICE COUNTS NOT JUST THE POLITICIANS
From Harford County Councilman “Capt’n” Jim McMahan and Bel Air Tommissioner Susan Burdette:
29 January 2015
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has held several meetings with staff, council members and citizens following the announcement that SHA has reversed their 2013 decision to ban ingress and egress from the proposed development off Plumtree and MD 924. Senator Bob Cassilly and Del. Susan McComas were talking with SHA officials in an effort to find out who in particular represented Harford County in the September 17th meeting at SHA. County Executive Glassman is on record with a letter dated December 16, 2014 supporting the County Council’s Resolution 26-12 requesting denial of access off MD 924. Citizens should contact Senator Cassilly and Delegate McComas with their concerns since State Highway Administration is a State Agency. (Senator Cassilly 410 841 3158) E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks Susan and the Captain
FEB 4 THOMAS STREET PROJECT – BEL AIR Public comment is invited on a proposal to upgrade certain roadways in the area of Howard Park and beyond. The aim is to make that part of Bel Air more pedestrian friendly and connect Plumtree Park to the Ma and Pa Trail. The meeting begins at 6 PM in the Town Hall on Hickory ave in Bel Air. For more information you can call the Town of Bel Air Planning Dept 410 638 4540
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Let’s make 2015 a year we recall as one when liberties were restored and government was forced to fulfill its natural function.
Be a part of it!
January 27, 2015
7pm – 9pm
Knights of Columbus Hall
23 Newport Drive
Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
We have a fantastic lineup of speakers to kick off the New Year. Join us and hear about the planned efforts of newly elected Sheriff Gahler and the Harford County Delegation to roll back the harmful effects of SB 281, otherwise known as
Martin O’Malley’s assault on your Second Amendment Rights.
A representative from the sheriff’s office will be on hand to provide details and let you know how you can help.
But wait, there’s more.
Be prepared to be impressed. Come meet Eugene Craig, the new face of conservative politics. Eugene is a 20-something activist with a history of success against liberal holdouts in education and government. I know you’ll be encouraged to find limited government values embraced by a young man who was recently elected as Third Vice Chair for the MD GOP.
Cash Bar Available
Visit our website at http://www.harfordliberty.org
Friday, January 23, 2015
from the Baltimore Sun
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Montgomery County lawmaker frequently at the center of Democratic messaging on the economy, will serve as the top campaign fundraiser for House Democrats in the next election.
The assignment, first reported by The Washington Post, marks a return for Van Hollen to the nation's swingiest and priciest House districts. The top-ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee also served as chairman of the DCCC during the 2008 and 2010 cycles.
Often mentioned as a possible successor to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Van Hollen has recently gained attention for his role in bringing home an aid worker jailed in Cuba since 2009. Alan Gross was a Potomac resident while traveling in Cuba as a subcontractor to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Another Maryland Democrat, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, announced Wednesday that he will return to his seat on the House Appropriations Committee after serving four years as the top-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
The Baltimore County lawmaker has emerged as a leading voice for his party on cyber security at a critical time.
"Our country will continue to face economic challenges over the next two years and all members of the Appropriations Committee share a tremendous responsibility to allocate precious tax dollars as efficiently as possible," Ruppersberger said in a statement. "This is a responsibility I take seriously."
Thursday, January 22, 2015
WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are scheduled to meet privately this week in Utah, raising the possibility that the two former governors will find a way to avoid competing presidential campaigns that would split the Republican establishment next year, two prominent party members said Wednesday night.
The meeting was planned before Mr. Romney’s surprise announcement two weeks ago to donors in New York that he was considering a third run for the White House.
Mr. Bush proposed the meeting, according to one of the party members familiar with the planning, who did not want to be quoted by name in discussing a secret meeting.
The original idea was for Mr. Bush, who announced his presidential ambitions in December, to show his respect for Mr. Romney, the Republican Party’s 2012 nominee. The meeting stayed on both men’s calendars even as Mr. Romney took steps to test the presidential waters, moves that could make the meeting awkward.
Aides to Mr. Romney and Mr. Bush did not reply to requests for comment.
Both men have been making a flurry of phone calls to Republican donors and officials to sound them out and gather commitments ahead of what could be a bruising primary race.
In some cases, Mr. Bush and Mr. Romney are calling the same people just hours apart. Many of the contributors and elected officials they are courting hope to stave off a collision between the two that could imperil the party’s chances in a general election.
Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, and Mr. Romney, who was governor of Massachusetts, are neither friends nor adversaries. But Mr. Bush offered little help to Mr. Romney in his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and tensions have grown since Mr. Bush said that he was exploring a presidential bid.
Mr. Bush has been critical of the way Mr. Romney ran his 2012 campaign, and Mr. Romney has raised questions in private about whether Mr. Bush, who has worked in the finance industry in recent years, would be vulnerable to the attacks that so damaged his own campaign against President Obama.
Both Republicans have deep ties to leading Republican fund-raisers, and Mr. Bush, the son of one former president and the brother of another, has already won pledges of support.
But Mr. Romney’s expression of interest, made public in a speech to the Republican National Committee last week in San Diego, has stopped some of the party’s coveted fund-raising bundlers from making firm commitments.
A number of Mr. Romney’s loyalists have made their own phone calls and sent emails asking associates to hold off on any commitments until Mr. Romney makes a decision.
Establishment Republicans are eager for Mr. Romney to make his intentions clear, but he said in a speech in California on Monday that he had no timeline for making a decision.
from the NY Times
WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney did not reach an agreement during a Salt Lake City lunch meeting on Thursday on how to reconcile their competing plans to run for the White House next year, advisers to both men indicated after the talk.
“Governor Bush enjoyed visiting with Governor Romney today in Salt Lake,” Kristy Campbell, Mr. Bush’s spokeswoman, said, declining to elaborate.
Republicans close to both Mr. Romney and Mr. Bush were notably tight-lipped about the long-planned meeting, which the two would-be candidates and their advisers were unhappy had been revealed publicly.
The meeting was cordial and touched on both policy and the Republicans’ need to field a strong contender for the presidency in 2016, according to an adviser to one of the candidates who was not authorized to discuss the meeting.
Former Gov. Mike Leavitt of Utah, a close friend of Mr. Romney’s, said he felt “very confident it was a gentlemanly conversation.”
“Every interaction I’ve observed between them has been positive and friendly,” he said.
The meeting was organized by Mr. Bush and scheduled well before Mr. Romney began musing about mounting a third presidential campaign, first mentioned this month in a meeting with donors in New York.
Neither man sought to later cancel the gathering because each was curious about the other’s thinking on the 2016 race, the adviser said.
“It seemed like a good thing to get together to keep the lines of communication open,” Mr. Leavitt said.
Some of the party’s fund-raising bundlers have stopped making firm commitments since Mr. Bush and Mr. Romney declared their interest in a campaign.
On Wednesday, representatives for Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, and Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, refused to confirm the meeting.
But after Mr. Bush was approached by a pair of reporters and a host of well-wishers as he waited on Thursday for a flight from Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington to Salt Lake City, Ms. Campbell said it was simply a chance for the two “to catch up.”
By the time Mr. Bush reached Utah, a group of reporters and television cameras was awaiting his arrival at what is, with the beginning of the Sundance Film Festival, already a busy time at Salt Lake City’s airport.
Even before the trip began, Mr. Bush was making light of how a secret meeting had become a national news event.
At the Washington airport, he posted a picture of himself on Twitter with a group of Delta employees.
“Thank you to the @Delta team for always being great sports — sorry about all of our reporter friends milling around,” he wrote.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
The following is the text of Larry Hogan's inaugural address, as written for delivery Wednesday at the State House in Annapolis:
GOVERNOR LAWRENCE J. HOGAN, JR: "Governor Christie, thank you for being here, thanks for your tremendous support, and for that very kind introduction.
To my wife, Yumi, my daughters and my entire family, please know that it is because of your incredible love and support that I am able to stand here today.
I am privileged and proud to have Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford by my side. He has been more than a running mate. He is a friend. I am honored to serve with him.
Governor O'Malley, thank you for your gracious cooperation during the transition and for your years of public service.
Lt. Governor Brown, thank you for your service, not only to the state, but to our nation.
To my good friends Governor Ehrlich and Lt. Governor Steele, thank you for your leadership. It was an honor to serve in your administration.
Governor Hughes and Governor Mandel, thank you for all you have done for Maryland.
Senate President Miller, Speaker Busch, and members of the Maryland General Assembly, we have great challenges ahead of us, but I look forward to working together with each and every one of you.
Comptroller Franchot, Treasurer Kopp, and Attorney General Frosh, Chief Judge Barbera and the other members of the judiciary, Senators Mikulski and Cardin and members of our Congressional Delegation, and all the local elected officials and other dignitaries, thank you all for being here for this historic occasion.
Most importantly, I want to thank the citizens from all across our state, who put aside party politics and who came together and voted to change Maryland for the better.
I'm grateful, because I know something about putting aside partisanship in order to do the right thing.
Forty years ago, a Maryland Congressman, a Republican, sat on the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate, and the entire world was watching.
Would this man be willing to buck his own party, his own president, to do what he thought was right for the country?
Despite tremendous pressure, this statesman put aside partisanship and made the tough decision, and became the first Republican to come out for the impeachment of President Nixon.
That man was my dad, former Congressman Lawrence J. Hogan, Sr., who is here with us today.
He put aside party politics and his own personal considerations in order to do the right thing for the nation.
He taught me more about integrity in one day than most men learn in a lifetime, and I am so proud to be his son.
Ladies and gentlemen, today, we are gathered in front of our beautiful state house, which has been in service since 1772.
A few steps from where I'm standing is where General George Washington resigned his commission.
Two hundred and thirty one years ago, the Revolutionary War ended right here, inside this state house, with the ratification of the Treaty of Paris in 1784.
And just a few miles away from here, when the future of a fledgling nation was in doubt, Francis Scott Key penned the Star Spangled Banner during the War of 1812.
For Maryland, and for our nation, this is a place where great things begin, and where great things are accomplished.
Today, against this historic and majestic backdrop, Maryland once again starts a new chapter in our long, proud history.
Today's inauguration marks a new beginning for Maryland, and the limitless possibilities before us.
I am a lifelong Marylander who loves this state. Every great experience, every great memory, every great moment I have ever had in my life, has happened right here, in Maryland.
It is such an incredible honor to be standing before you today as the 62nd governor of the great state of Maryland.
I am truly humbled and deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve my fellow Marylanders, and I vow to work tirelessly every single day to prove worthy of this great honor that you have granted me.
Today, we celebrate a new beginning for Maryland, remembering our past, while striving for a better and more promising future.
The question isn't whether Maryland is a great state. The question is: What will we do, all of us, to reinvigorate this great state that we all love? What will we do to ensure that our future is better than our present or our past?
I believe that the time has come to cast aside the status quo, and to come together to build a better future for our state and all our citizens.
We must set the bar higher, and create a bolder vision of the future.
Let's create a Maryland that is thriving, growing, innovating, and is responsive to the needs of all its citizens. Let's strive to make Maryland the best place in America to work, raise a family, start a business, and even to retire.
Let us renew our sense of optimism, and make Maryland a place of unlimited promise.
Together, let's make Maryland a place that we can all be proud of again.
Today, I am reminded of those brave Marylanders who first came to this land seeking freedom and opportunity when they landed in St. Mary's City in 1634.
While the challenges facing us today are different, I know that the courage and the spirit of Marylanders is the same.
We seek the freedom to compete without the undue burden of high taxes and bureaucratic regulations, which make us less competitive. We seek opportunities to build better communities, better businesses, and better lives for ourselves, our children, and our children's children. And most of all, we cherish both the freedom and opportunity to decide our future.
And today, we celebrate that freedom and opportunity.
What I envision for Maryland is not just an economic and fiscal recovery, but a rebirth of our spirit, and a renewed commitment to our common purpose.
The citizens of Maryland expect great things from us, and they deserve great things from us.
Too often, we see wedge politics and petty rhetoric used to belittle our adversaries and inflame partisan divisions. But I believe that Maryland is better than this. Our history proves that we are better than this.
It is only when the partisan shouting stops that we can hear each other's voices and concerns.
I am prepared to create an environment of trust and cooperation, where the best ideas rise to the top based upon their merit, regardless of which side of the political debate they come from.
No problem faces us that hard work, honesty, and courage cannot solve if we work together.
Ladies and gentlemen, we can improve the tone in Annapolis, and we will. And we can move toward a common-sense, solutions-based government. The problems we face are great, but so is our resolve to fix them.
President Kennedy once said, "Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer."
In that spirit, let us sit down together and come up with real, bipartisan, common sense solutions to the serious problems that face us. That's what the people of Maryland voted for, it's what they want, and it's what they deserve.
The history of our great state is rich and deep, and our commitment to freedom and justice has always been our strength.
In 1649, the Maryland Toleration Act, one of the first laws that granted different faiths the right to freely worship, was enacted. Since then, over the many years, Maryland has blossomed into a state wonderfully defined by our vibrant culture of racial, ethnic, and religious diversity.
In our hearts, Marylanders are hard-wired for inclusiveness. It's who we are, it's our founding principle, it's part of our identity, and it is our greatest strength.
Our culture of tolerance and mutual respect must also extend to those with whom we happen to differ on politics.
Today is not the beginning of an era of divided government. Today is the beginning of a new spirit of bipartisan cooperation in Annapolis.
There is so much that unites us: a love of our state, a commitment to fairness, and a desire to be economically strong and successful.
And to those who would divide us, or drive us to the extremes of either political party, I remind you that Maryland has been called "a state of middle temperament." Our politics need that middle temperament as well.
The politics that have divided our nation need not divide our state.
In the days ahead, I ask all Marylanders to seek that middle ground, where we can all stand together.
I recognize that the events of 2014 stirred strong feelings throughout the nation. But in keeping with the moderate tradition of Maryland, we expressed our passions in a positive, open, respectful, and civil way, as concerned neighbors.
It's one of the many reasons I am proud to be a Marylander.
Our greatest challenge has always been reaching the high expectations set for us by our founders. That is why we will always keep trying, always keep growing, and why we shall never fail.
In the end, it isn't about politics; it's about citizenship, and the ability to understand the difference – that is what it means to be a Marylander.
Maryland's greatness is in her goodness. Partisanship should never denigrate the unique legacy entrusted to us by our founders.
To all my friends across the aisle, I assure you that partisanship will never play a role in my decision-making. Everything we do will be guided by four common-sense principles.
First: Fiscal responsibility.
Our state government must provide essential services, yet still live within its means. We must run our state government more efficiently and more cost effectively.
Second: Economic growth.
Maryland has an educated workforce, world-class universities and colleges, great community colleges, and public schools.
We have our beautiful Chesapeake Bay, the Port of Baltimore, and a great location in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region. We must leverage these amazing assets to transform Maryland into a place where businesses can flourish and create more jobs and opportunities for our citizens.
Starting today let me say loudly and clearly: Maryland is open for business.
We must improve our state government's ability to be more responsive to, and to better serve and represent all of our citizens.
We must restore a sense of fairness and balance for Maryland's hardworking and beleaguered taxpayers, in order to rebuild our forgotten middle class.
We must get the state government off our backs, and out of our pockets, so that we can grow the private sector, put people back to work, and turn our economy around.
Ladies and gentlemen, we can accomplish these things, and together we will.
This is our chance to build a government that works for the people, and not the other way around.
To accomplish these objectives will require leadership. I'm not talking about any one leader. It will take many, all of us, working together, rolling up our sleeves, acting with mutual respect, and doing our jobs for the people of Maryland.
It will require listening, education, and bold actions. And it will take the courage to do things differently.
A commitment to doing things differently will be challenging. But it will be worth it. We're worth it. And more importantly, Maryland is worth it.
One hundred years from now, I want Marylanders to say, "This was when Maryland's renaissance began."
Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you today, full of hope, hope for our great state, hope for our people, and hope for our future.
I want Maryland's future, to be brighter than it's present, and brighter than it's past.
It can be, and it will be.
Before my father cast his vote on the impeachment committee, 40 years ago, he quoted President Lincoln, who said, "We cannot escape history."
And, we cannot escape our future – it's out there, waiting for us.
Let us show our fellow Marylanders that government can work, that we can work together, that change is possible, and that Maryland can live up to the promise of our founders.
Let us always act worthy of the great task entrusted to us, to renew and advance our great state.
Let us appeal to the better angels of our nature so that we can achieve the great and shining promise of Maryland.
Ladies and gentlemen, we can change Maryland for the better. And together, we will.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the great state of Maryland."
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
HARTFORD >> A rare Democrat who won re-election last year despite pushing an unapologetically liberal agenda, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is in line for at least a taste of the national spotlight as his party pushes to win back seats in Congress and keep control of the White House in 2016.
Malloy, who will take over as chairman of the national Democratic Governors Association in 2016, will be tapped to campaign for Democrats across the country as part of the Democratic National Committee’s national surrogate team during the 2015 and 2016 elections, said Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chairwoman.
“It’s one thing to talk about it, but Governor Malloy got it done,” she said, referring to the passage of the higher minimum wage and other initiatives.
Getting re-elected in a tough election year, “I think shows that he has the wherewithal, but also the leadership to be able to point the way for other governors and other races,” she said.
Malloy said in an interview that he is eager to share his experiences, including legislative victories on mandatory paid sick leave, a $10.10 hourly minimum wage, a far-reaching gun-control law and public education reform.
“I think being able to talk about Connecticut in the context of national policy will be good for Connecticut and good for our prospects in Washington,” Malloy said. “So I think there’s real value to the people of Connecticut to have me play that role, particularly over the next years with the current administration, and if there’s a Democratic administration after that.”
Malloy, who has ruled out running for president, said he believes there’s a “story to tell about good governance” in Connecticut. He is already chairman of the bipartisan New England Governors Association. He will likely speak at the Democratic National Convention, where he’s made prior appearances.
Wasserman Schultz, who was in Connecticut to campaign for Malloy in October, said Malloy first caught her attention in 2012 for how he handled the aftermath of the Newtown school shooting. She said she was also impressed Malloy stuck by his political agenda for the state.
“It just demonstrated that if you are strong and unwavering in your commitment to progressive and Democratic ideas ... you’re going to be rewarded for it,” she said.
Jerry Labriola Jr., chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party, said it’s too early for Malloy to take a “victory lap” on the national stage considering the economic challenges the state faces.
“Clearly Connecticut is underachieving by almost every economic measure and continues to lag the nation as our once great state faces chronic budget deficits, due mainly to his and his party’s failed policies,” Labriola said. “Granted, he has pushed a virtual conveyor belt of the most liberal legislation in the nation, but I would think his time would be better served trying to get our economy out of the rut that it’s in.”
Democrats suffered heavy losses nationally in the November elections, ceding Senate control to the Republicans and losing additional seats in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. The GOP also picked up governor’s offices in four Democratic-held states: Arkansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Illinois. Overall, the number of Republican governors grew from 29 to 31. The defeats prompted Wasserman Schultz to form a committee to assess the party’s performance.
While polling showed Malloy in a dead heat against his Republican rival, businessman Tom Foley, for much of the race, he eventually won by 28,019 votes out of 1.09 million votes cast.
Harford County residents,
The Harford County Council is going to vote to create a new “hotel tax” for Harford County on this Tuesday night—-unless you act now.
This tax hike proposal is one of the first actions of the newly-elected all-Republican County Council!
Did you know Harford County is the only county for miles that doesn’t have a tax on hotel/motel bookings?
Next Tuesday Harford County politicians are planning to erase Harford’s current tax advantage over other counties in the area.
The newly elected Republican County Executive Barry Glassman and the all-Republican County Council, are keen on hiking taxes and targeting entrepreneurs.
Please contact the below County Councilmen and the County Executive and tell them that taxes kill jobs and we expect more from them:
Council President Richard Slutzky
Councilman Chad Shrodes
Councilman Curtis Beulah
Councilman Joe Woods
Councilman James McMahan
Councilman Patrick Vincenti
County Executive Barry Glassman
Please also call and thank County Councilman Mike Perrone for pledging to vote AGAINST the hotel tax hike:
Councilman Michael Perrone
In this economy, our elected representatives should be making it easier to run a business, not harder. These Republican Councilmen should be working to make Harford County more attractive to visitors and entrepreneurs, not less attractive. Do these Councilmen understand that hotels create jobs in Harford County?
Local businesses should not be looked at as sources of endless tax revenue. Instead they should be valued as job creators and productive units of our economy. What’s next, an ice cream shop tax? A hardware store tax? A beauty salon tax? Should entrepreneurs be targeted based on what type of business they choose to pursue?
This hotel tax bill, introduced by Republican Barry Glassman and Council President Dick Slutzky, is nothing more than a short-sighted money grab. It’s only supported by politicians and special interests who stand to benefit from having more money in the government coffers. We need your help to kill this bill.
Tell the County Council to protect jobs and support local businesses in Harford County.
Let them know that they are not in office to raise taxes and grow government. They are there to protect our freedoms and vote to expand opportunity in Harford County for all citizens.
Maryland State Coordinator
Campaign for Liberty
He didn’t mean to. Mitt Romney’s tentative entry into the 2016 Republican presidential fray was intended to stop Jeb Bush in his tracks, freezing the drift toward Bush by the Republican establishment-donor-class-realist-pragmatists or whatever you want to call the guys accustomed to calling the party's shots. Instead, it’s more likely that Romney has done Bush a big favor.
Bush has a couple sets of political problems, those of his own making and those he can’t help. The self-manufactured problems include his lack of rage toward undocumented immigrants, the federal government and President Barack Obama. A modicum of rage is now the price of entry to Republican primaries, yet Bush has so far refused to pay it. Worse, Bush has refused to modify his policy views on Common Core (in favor) and undocumented immigrants (empathetic), which are out of step -- perhaps by two or three or four steps -- with the party base. He’s not only running as a sensible conservative, but also as a sensitive one. The base distrusts both qualities.
Bush’s other main basket of problems concerns his very being. He is a figure from the past, having left office eight years ago -- before the Republican retreat into massive resistance against the federal government. He's the brother of a president who waged failure -- two hapless, meandering wars, a near-Depression, budget deficits -- on a historic scale. And he’s the son of another president whose name is Republican shorthand for “sellout.”
If Bush and Romney both stay in the race there will be competition for donors and for ideological terrain. But as Philip Klein pointed out in the Washington Examiner, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Bush and Romney will destroy each other, as some conservatives hope. It more likely means that one will vanquish the other and emerge strengthened -- the better to grind down the base’s underfinanced favorites in a second round.
Meanwhile Romney helps Bush mitigate his greatest vulnerabilities.
Old? Bush (61) is younger than Romney (67) and looks like a fresh face compared with a candidate who has twice tried and failed to become president, and who wasn’t even much loved after he had won the 2012 nomination. Bush is personally untainted by failure -- electoral or governmental; his executive reign over Florida was widely considered a conservative success.
Similarly, Bush’s deviations from Republican orthodoxy appear less toxic when he is compared with the paterfamilias of Obamacare. Over the course of his career, Romney’s true north has been highly variable. Bush is attempting -- we’ll see if it lasts -- to establish himself as a direct contrast to such flip-floppery. (Bush knows that the base knows that he knows that the base knows that his stands on Common Core and immigrants hurt him.)
Bush’s principles offend the base -- but perhaps not as much as Romney’s pandering does. The base never confused Romney’s embarrassing entreaties with fidelity; for the Tea Party wing of the party, Romney is just as much of an ideological threat as Bush. And his mere presence in the public sphere makes Bush’s spine appear straighter, stronger.
Romney’s efforts to be the establishment horse in 2016 have surely complicated Bush’s plans to be the same. But instead of undermining Bush’s already dodgy chances, Romney may have just enhanced them.
Monday, January 19, 2015
MYRTLE BEACH — They were loud, numerous and enthusiastic, but how relevant will they be heading into the 2016 presidential run?
Hundreds of South Carolina tea partyers crammed into an oceanside resort ballroom here Sunday to hear from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson and other conservative speakers in what many see as the opening salvo of next year’s S.C. presidential primary run.
While President Barack Obama was a constant target of the rhetoric, what was more apparent among many attendees is that the so-called “establishment” candidates — namely Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush — are lagging far back in terms of preference.
“I look at them as being part of the large government machine,” said Columbia-area tea party member Bill Krecker, who said Cruz is among those drawing his early interest. “I don’t think they are working toward limited government.”
“There’s such a frustration from conservatives that the Republican establishment is not conservative enough,” added Richard Summerford, who operates an evangelical mission in Columbia. The eroding of freedoms is among his concerns. He wore a Carson sticker on his shirt.
Both Cruz and Carson delivered strong pro-tea party messages, though neither came out directly on Sunday to announce a White House run.
Carson stuck to a self-reliant theme, saying the individual is responsible for making his way. “Even if Al Sharpton comes along, you are not a victim,” said the retired neurosurgeon.
The closest he got to discussing a 2016 bid was in answering who he’d want in his Cabinet, answering “not yes-men and bootlickers.”
Cruz drew the louder ovations, however, as he called for eliminating Common Core, securing the borders and turning back the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He urged the crowd not to go soft in picking their next White House nominee.
“Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney — if we nominate another candidate in that model, (then) the same people who stayed home in ’08 and ’12 will stay home again,” he said, “and the Democrats will win again in 2016.”
About 500 people heard the speeches. Neither man has formally announced a White House bid, but the field is expected to become clearer in the coming months.
While tea party-aligned voters have been derided by some from the GOP leadership as too idealistic, their grass-roots faithful and other like-minded conservatives are largely credited with swaying South Carolina’s GOP primary turnout and triggering Newt Gingrich’s upset win here three years ago versus Romney.
And, since next February’s S.C. presidential primary is expected to lean more right than center, some say the tea party can again control the momentum in 2016, possibly sparking another upset in the GOP process.
“The tea party is still very relevant despite the performance of establishment Republicans in the 2014 mid-term,” said College of Charleston political scientist Jordan Ragusa, who provided his thoughts on 2016 in advance of this weekend’s Myrtle Beach gathering.
“In South Carolina, the tea party is especially relevant in primaries, where the most conservative Republicans are most likely to turn out,” he added. “Indeed, they could play a major role in selecting the next presidential candidate.”
Exit polls from 2012 said more than one-third of the GOP turnout — 34 percent — strongly supported the tea party movement.
Despite the gathering being overwhelmingly white and gray in the attendee profile, Summerford said he thought the tea party message would attract more minorities and baby Boomers in 2016, saying fiscal Washington responsibility and household values are desired by all Americans.
So far, dozens of speakers have appeared or are scheduled to speak at the convention, including S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson. Other presidential contenders were invited, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, but declined due to scheduling engagements, according to media reports.
The gathering continues Monday and is scheduled to hear from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and New York real estate celebrity Donald Trump, both of whom are potential presidential players. U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford also plans to appear, according to his published schedule.
The problem with ObamaCare, liberals argue, is that it didn’t go far enough — we should have an entirely government-run health-care system.
As former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin put it shortly before his retirement, Democrats “should have pursued single-payer right from the get-go.”
These advocates perhaps haven’t noticed that their latest efforts to give the government greater control over our health care just collapsed — in the People’s Republic of Vermont of all places.
The Affordable Care Act gave states the ability to opt out of ObamaCare, if they wanted to set up a single-payer system instead. So far, Vermont has been the only state to try to take advantage of that option.
In 2011, Vermont passed legislation that would have set up a single-payer system in the state starting in 2017, the first year permitted under the ACA.
The state government, advised by none other than Jonathan “Stupidity of the American voter” Gruber, designed a program, known as Green Mountain Care, that would have provided nearly all state residents with taxpayer-funded comprehensive health care, including dental and vision care.
Benefits would have been substantially more generous than those provided through ObamaCare. Consider that the least expensive ObamaCare plan, the Bronze Plan, has an “actuarial value” of 60%. That is, insurance pays 60% of health costs, and the patient pays 40% through co-payments, deductibles and so forth. The most expensive Platinum ObamaCare plans have an actuarial value of 90%.
Green Mountain Care would have had an actuarial value of 94%!
With the exception of multi-state employers, governed by federal law, private health insurance would be essentially abolished. Rather than premiums, Green Mountain Care would be paid for through taxes.
And there was the rub.
As humorist P.J. O’Rourke once said, “If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it’s free.”
Vermonters were stunned to discover just how much their new “free” health care was going to cost. Paying for Green Mountain Care would have required a 160% increase in state taxes by 2019, as much as $2.9 billion annually. The state’s top income tax rate would have been raised from 8.95% to an astounding 18%. For high earners that would mean a combined federal-state income tax burden of 56%. Even lower-income Vermonters would have seen a substantial tax hike.
As if that wasn’t enough, businesses would have been hit with an 11.5% state payroll tax. That would be on top of a federal payroll tax of 15.3% to 16.2%, as well as federal and state corporate income taxes. That’s not exactly going to lead to an employment boom.
True, Vermonters would save the money that they currently pay for premiums and most out-of-pocket health-care costs, but even after accounting for such savings, most state residents would be worse off.
Because even these enormous tax hikes wouldn’t have provided enough money, Green Mountain Care would have cut payments to doctors and hospitals by an estimated 16%. That would have forced many doctors out of the state and threatened the viability of local hospitals.
With the supply of providers drying up, patients would have inevitably faced delays in treatment and waiting lists. And even then, according to numbers released by the governor’s office, the plan would be running in the red within four years.
Vermont’s single-payer system would have delivered worse health care at a higher taxpayer cost.
It should have been no surprise then when late last month Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, announced that the state was giving up and abandoning its plans for Green Mountain Care.
That hasn’t dampened liberal enthusiasm. Legislation similar to Vermont’s is pending in several states, including Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.
In New York, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), chairman of the Assembly Committee on Health, has been holding a series of high-profile town halls across the state to promote his single-payer bill.
Gottfried’s idea is backed by major labor unions and several influential New York politicians, including State Sen. Bill Perkins (D-Harlem), Assemblyman Phil Steck (D-Albany), and, of course, Mayor de Blasio.
One of the advantages of our federalist form of government is that states can act as, in the words of Justice Louis Brandies, “the laboratories of democracy.”
Vermont’s laboratory experiment has failed. The question is whether we will heed the lesson.
Sunday, January 18, 2015
Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp is one of the most energetic and principled of the 63 Republican freshman elected in 2010, a class that gave the GOP the majority in the House. In this exclusive video interview, Huelskamp offers encouragement to citizens who are feeling America is on the wrong track with weak congressional leadership.
“We are in a town that continues to move down the progressive route of bigger government every day. If we sit by, the president will continue to take over more and more of our economy, more and more of our lives and take away more of our liberties,” he said.
Speaking directly to viewers who may feel like giving up on politics, Huelskamp worries, “If we do nothing, I guarantee, we could lose it all. As Ronald Reagan said, if America falls, where will people escape to?” Did calls and emails about the Speaker vote make any difference? Huelskamp says, “Absolutely, without a doubt!” Citizen engagement and contact “scares the heck out of [elected members in Congress]!”
Huelskamp was shocked to hear John Boehner, after being reelected House Speaker, decry citizens who called Congress to urge a no vote on him. In this interview he reports that Boehner said, “Too many people were calling into Washington and beating up on his Members.”
But the congressman thinks this is the essence of self-government. It is not wrong for people to tell their elected members what kind of leadership they want, Hueslkamp thinks. Besides, he recalls, “John Boehner was probably involved in a coup against Speaker Newt Gingrich twenty years ago.”
Now the new chairman of the Tea Party Caucus, one of several conservative enclaves being fortified, hesays, “This town does not listen.”
As for the controversial vote against the speaker this month, he admits “it’s a difficult vote that comes with a lot of intimidation.” The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee, Florida Republican Rep. Jeff Miller, let Huelskamp know he was jeopardizing an expected subcommittee chairmanship by announcing his intentions to not vote for Boehner.
Defiant, Huelskamp stood resolute against the threats and pressure tactics, as leadership punished Huelskamp last Congress for voting his conscience by stripping him of two committees. For Huelskamp, the lame duck CRomnibus was among the clues that this Republican leadership was not inclined to stand up to President Obama on principle. “They weren’t going to push conservative principles. They, actually, were pushing back against conservatives!”
Exposing the tactics leadership uses against renegades, Huelskamp said, “So much of it’s about money and campaign contributors.” The leadership puts you on a “do not contribute to” list.
Other power tools leadership use, he said, are threats to withhold funding, denial of committees, subcommittee chairmanships, reduced influence and denial of access to campaign contributors. They refuse to do fundraisers for you, he says, and they will even find primary challengers against you.
Whether or not the newly elected House Republican leadership for the 114th Congress will effectively coalesce, listening to those independent Republicans, like Huelskamp, aligned with the citizens who are clamoring to be heard, based for their frustration with weak leadership and the direction of the country, has yet to be seen.
An anti-gay activist has filed a religious discrimination complaint against a bakery that refused to decorate a Bible-shaped cake with words describing homosexuals as 'detestable'.
Azucar Bakery in Denver, Colorado, agreed to the order last March but said they would not inscribe the incendiary words.
They also refused the elderly man's request for a design featuring two men holding hands with an 'X' over them, followed by the words 'god hates homosexuality'.
Unperturbed, he suggested, instead, icing on anti-gay scripture and the ghostbusters logo.
Their refusal enraged the man, who threatened to involve his attorney.
When owner Marjorie Silva explained they could provide the man with icing and a piping bag to design his own decoration, he stormed out and took action.
If unresolved, the case could go to trial.
The controversy has emerged just days after the Supreme Court agreed to address same-sex marriage in Colorado this term.
Silva believes the man may have targeted their firm deliberately after she made pro-gay comments to a Spanish-speaking news agency.
'We make [Christian-themed] cakes all the time,' she told Out Front. 'No problem at all.'
'He wanted us to write God hates... just really radical stuff against gays.
'He wouldn’t allow me to make a copy of the message, but it was really hateful.
'I remember the words detestable, disgrace, homosexuality, and sinners.
'I told him that I would bake the cake in the shape of a Bible.'
Now, the bakery has received an official complaint letter from the man via the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).
Silva, who is filing a response, said: 'I would like to make it clear that we never refused service. We only refused to write and draw what we felt was discriminatory against gays.
'In the same manner we would not make a discriminatory cake against Christians, we will not make one that discriminates against gays.'
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Record-breaking temperatures scorched the planet last year, making 2014 the hottest in more than a century and raising new concerns about global warming, US government scientists said on Friday.Of course, this is true only if you ignore all the satellite data and other info to the contrary and rely on cherry picked ground station data.
The much-anticipated report by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was confirmed by an independent analysis from the US space agency NASA that reached the same conclusion.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
As the 2015 Maryland General Assembly kicked off Wednesday, activists packed Lawyer’s Mall in front of the State House to call for action in 2015 to double the state’s use of clean electricity like wind and solar. The rally was headlined by a broad array of social justice, environmental, faith, labor and business leaders, who declared the historic clean energy bill a priority to pass in 2015 for the climate, the economy and health.They must really think we're stupid. They never say what their proposal will cost. Below is an example of what their "stylish" environmental concerns have cost Marylanders thus far:
“Maryland needs to get out front of the burgeoning clean energy industry in this country. It will mean good paying jobs and a much needed boost to our economy. Other states are advancing on clean energy, and Maryland has a golden opportunity now to get ahead of the curve with this legislation,” said Sen. Brian Feldman, Democrat from district 15 and chief sponsor of the legislation in the Senate.
The Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act of 2015 will double Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirement to 40% clean electricity by 2025. The current state RPS requires 20% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2022. The RPS was originally signed into law in 2004 by former Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich. Maryland utilities are currently on track to surpass the current standard, providing Marylanders with 10.3% of energy purchased from renewable sources in 2014.
“Marylanders are ready for this move forward on clean energy,” said Susan Cochran of the League of Women Voters of Maryland. “We can and must pass this legislation to double our clean energy use.”
Dozens of activists packed Lawyer’s Mall for the event, holding “Forward with Clean Energy” signs and waving small handheld wind turbines. A poll released last week showed that more than two-thirds of Maryland voters—or 69 percent—support raising the state’s clean electricity standard to 40% by 2025.
“A 40 percent renewable energy standard would make Maryland a national leader in clean energy and super-charge the market for good-paying clean energy jobs,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national nonpartisan business group. “Lawmakers should seize this opportunity for the good of the state’s economy and its environment.”
The solar industry in Maryland now surpasses the state’s iconic crab industry in total economic value. Doubling Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard would create nearly 2,000 new jobs per year in the state’s solar industry and spur over 20,000 new jobs in the regional wind-power economy.
The promise of good clean energy jobs and cleaner air and water also drew support from Maryland’s health care workers. “The health care workers of 1199 SEIU support expanding Maryland’s renewable energy portfolio because climate change is a public health crisis,” said Pat Lippold, political director of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “The impacts fall disproportionately on Maryland’s communities of color and poorest communities, which suffer from more polluted air and higher rates of breathing problems.”
“Climate change is already having direct negative impacts on our lives, families, and communities, and those impacts will only get much worse in the coming years,” stated Gerald Stansbury, President of the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP. “That’s why climate change is a civil rights and an economic justice issue. At the same time, doubling our clean energy will greatly benefit our communities. It will help clean up our air, put people to work, and seriously address climate justice.”
Currently, more than 85 percent of Marylanders live in areas that fail to meet the nation’s clean air standards, and the National Academy of Sciences estimates that illness caused by polluting energy sources costs Maryland households an average of $73 per month. A separate analysis shows that a 40% clean electricity standard will prevent 200 to 450 deaths per year in Maryland.
“Children are among the most vulnerable to climate change, especially from extreme heat events, widespread disease and increased air pollution,” said Trisha Sheehan, Northeast Regional Field Manager for Moms Clean Air Force. “Maryland has the ability to double its use of clean energy by 2025. We need to act now to cut our reliance on the dirty fossil fuels that are polluting our air and making us sick.”
Maryland faith leaders also joined Wednesday’s rally. The Ecumenical Leaders’ Group, representing seven denominations of Christian churches throughout Maryland, voted this fall to endorse a 40% clean electricity standard for Maryland. Since that announcement, more than 100 religious leaders representing diverse faith traditions have signed onto their call, which includes a commitment that congregations also reach 40% clean energy.
“This opportunity to source 40% of Maryland’s energy from renewable sources by 2025 is a step in the direction of stewardship, a sign of respect to God and fulfilling our God-given responsibility to creation,” said Reverend Ryan Sirmons, United Church of Christ Annapolis.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Maryland Gov.-elect Larry Hogan (R) announced eight more senior members of his administration Tuesday, including a new transportation secretary whom he introduced as “the best highway builder in the entire country.”
Hogan’s nomination of Pete Rahn, who has held top transportation jobs in New Mexico and Missouri, comes amid great uncertainty over the future of the light-rail Purple Line in the Washington suburbs and other proposed mass-transit projects. The governor-elect has strongly signaled that he will emphasize roads over rail after he takes office Jan. 21.
Hogan, who made tax cuts a rallying cry of his campaign, also pledged to focus this spring on reducing tolls at Maryland’s bridges and tunnels. Tolls are set by an executive-branch authority whose members are appointed by the governor.
At a news conference, Hogan continued to make good on his promise to include Democrats in his administration, naming outgoing Del. Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. (D-Baltimore) as a senior adviser whose portfolio will include expansion of Maryland’s charter schools. Hogan has been in talks with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert) about legislation to loosen criteria for launching new charters.
Mitchell lost his bid for reelection in June’s primary. He previously served on the Baltimore City Council and ran unsuccessfully for Baltimore mayor. His family has been prominent in the civil rights movement.
Others appointed by Hogan on Tuesday include:● Sen. Christopher B. Shank (R-Washington) as director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. Shank, the current minority whip, said he will resign from the Senate on the day Hogan is sworn into office.With Tuesday’s announcement, the top tier of Hogan’s team is nearly complete. He said he plans to make several remaining appointments soon, including for budget secretary and superintendent of state police.
● Outgoing Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R-Talbot) as director of intergovernmental services. Haddaway-Riccio ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor last year on a GOP primary ticket that included former Harford County executive David R. Craig (R). Last week, Hogan named Craig as his planning secretary.
● Thomas E. Hutchins, a former superintendent of state police under former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), as director of homeland security.
● Steven J. McAdams, a realestate appraiser who has worked with Hogan’s real-estate company, as director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives.
● Arlene F. Lee, a former executive director of the Governor’s Office for Children under Ehrlich, for the same position under Hogan.
● Robert F. Scholz, a lawyer with Baltimore-based Niles, Barton & Wilmer, as counsel to the governor.
Appointments to Hogan’s Cabinet, including his transportation secretary, require Senate confirmation. Several other positions filled Tuesday do not require legislative action.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Republicans in the House of Delegates reelected their leadership team to guide the caucus into a year where they say the GOP has more sway than ever.
The caucus endorsed House Minority Leader Nic Kipke and Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga Tuesday to continue the roles they won in a 2013 toppling of Republican power in the chamber.
Kipke, an Anne Arundel County Republican, has predicted the 2015 legislative session that opens Wednesday will be more bipartisan than in years past, now that the GOP picked up several seats and Republican Gov.-elect Larry Hogan is set to take office.
Republicans knocked off every Democrat in rural Maryland except one on the Eastern Shore. Democrats, who have long dominated Maryland state government, still hold enough votes in both chambers to override any veto.
But the sweep of Republican legislators in some former Democratic strongholds and Hogan's 5 percentage -point victory on promises to cut government spending has shifted the tone in Annapolis. Democrats chose not to hold the large, festive luncheon normally thrown the day before session begins.
“This term we have the highest number of Republicans serving in the House of Delegates in the history of our state," Kipke said in a statement. "Maryland is a great state but we face some significant problems. These are not ‘Republican’ or ‘Democratic’ problems, they impact all of Maryland and we need to work together to solve them.”
The Republican House and Senate caucuses were scheduled to hold their annual luncheon on Tuesday.
Hogan is scheduled to address the both chambers during opening session on Wednesday, a week before he to be sworn in. Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley has been invited to speak to each chamber on Thursday.
from the Dagger and From Del. Kathy Szeliga:
Can you believe it …
The 2015 legislative session begins on Wednesday!
With the holiday season in our rear view mirror, we are barreling into the 2015 legislative session. The next legislative session will run for 90 consecutive days from Wednesday, January 14 through Monday, April 13.
Please consider coming to Annapolis to see your legislature in action. I would be honored to meet with you and make sure you get a tour of our historic buildings. We are proud to have the oldest continuously used state house in the nation! Annapolis is a beautiful town to visit anytime of the year, and especially while the legislature is in session.
Our schedule during session:
Monday – 8 PM session
Tuesday – Thursday – 10 AM session
Friday – 11 AM session
If you’d like to come visit, please email me:
Dates & Information You Might Need for Annapolis & Larry Hogan’s Inauguration:
The Maryland General Assembly:
We will be sworn in on Wednesday, January 14 at noon. You are always invited to join us for the festivities. However, with more than 60 new members in the House and Senate, it will be very difficult to find a seat in the gallery to watch the proceedings. The ceremonies are held in the House and Senate chambers, both at noon.
I am honored to be sworn into my second term as your Maryland State Delegate. This is a duty and responsibility I take very seriously.
Larry Hogan will be sworn in as our next governor on Wednesday, January 21.
12:00 pm – Swearing-In Ceremony of Governor Larry Hogan & Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford
Maryland State House
100 State Circle
Parking available at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium Blue Lot
- Free Public Event -
1:30 pm – Public Reception and Receiving Line
State House Rotunda
- Free Public Event -
8:00 pm – Inaugural Gala
Baltimore Convention Center
1 W Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
Cost – $100 per ticket
Saturday, January 24
6:00pm – The People’s Celebration
200 Byrne Street
Cambridge, MD 21613
Cost – $25 per ticket
Click Here for a full listing of Hogan events
I hope to see you and one of the celebrations!
Delegate Kathy Szeliga
Maryland House of Delegates
Monday, January 12, 2015
David Matsuda had never been a mariner or an administrator before he became the head of the U.S. Maritime Administration in 2009. He had been a government lawyer and a congressional staffer, focusing on railroad issues; the ringtone on his phone was the choo-choo of a train. Matsuda had never been a banker, either. This was relevant because MarAd, in addition to its basic duties involving vessels and ports, ran a perennially troubled $2 billion credit program that had propped up U.S. shipbuilding since the Great Depression. When Matsuda took the helm, the program was sinking again, heading for its worst defaults since a massive loan to help the billionaire investor Sam Zell build cruise ships had gone bust in 2001. Whatever Matsuda’s Washington career had prepared him for, it hadn’t prepared him to be Uncle Sam’s repo man on the high seas.
“It was like walking into a nightmare,” says Matsuda, 42, a former transportation adviser to the late Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg. “I looked around and said, ‘Guys, what’s happening?’”
The Bush administration’s last MarAd loan guarantee, a $140 million deal to help a politically connected firm build two “superferries” to shuttle passengers around Hawaii, imploded shortly after Matsuda arrived. MarAd got stuck with the ferries, which it eventually offloaded to the Navy. Then a marine services outfit with a MarAd loan went bankrupt, prompting panicky meetings about whether seizing its collateral—a supply boat at work in Nigeria’s offshore oil industry—would spark an international incident. Then another dying shipping company missed a payment on a loan secured by four double-hulled oil tankers. After weeks of confusion, MarAd’s lawyers informed Matsuda he needed to arrest the four football-field sized ships.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know you could arrest ships,” he recalls.
MarAd struggled just to locate the tankers, which were scattered around the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Seaboard. One captain apparently turned off his transponders to evade detection. “They were moving from port to port to avoid us,” an official recalls. “We’d go looking for a ship, they’d be gone before we got there.” The four ships were finally tracked down in three states; federal marshals had to board them, place them under arrest and claim them for the government. MarAd ended up selling them for scrap, recovering just $7 million of the $88 million it was owed.
This is what can happen, Matsuda says, when a little marine agency like MarAd is assigned to evaluate big-money credit deals. “It’s never going to lure financial talent away from Wall Street,” says Matsuda, who left the government in 2013 and is now a transportation consultant in Washington. “It’s not a bank.”
No, MarAd is not a bank. It’s more accurate to say it runs the shipbuilding-loan division of a much larger bank—in fact, America’s largest bank.
That bank currently has a portfolio of more than $3 trillion in loans, the bulk of them to about 8 million homeowners and 40 million students, the rest to a motley collection of farmers and fishermen, small businesses and giant exporters, clean-energy firms and fuel-efficient automakers, managed-care networks and historically black colleges, even countries like Israel and Tunisia. It has about 120 different credit programs but no consistent credit policy, requiring some borrowers to demonstrate credit-worthiness and others to demonstrate need, while giving student loans to just about anyone who wants one. It runs a dozen unconnected mortgage programs, including separate ones targeting borrowers in need, Native Americans in need, veterans in need and, yes, Native American veteran borrowers in need. Its problems extend well beyond deadbeat shipbuilders.
That bank, of course, is the United States government—the real bank of America—and it’s unlike any other bank.
For starters, its goal is not profit, although it is profitable on paper, and its loans are supposed to help its borrowers rather than its shareholders, better known as taxpayers. Its lending programs sprawl across 30 agencies at a dozen Cabinet departments, with no one responsible for managing its overall portfolio, evaluating its performance or worrying about its risks. The closest it gets to coordination is an overwhelmed group of four midlevel Office of Management and Budget employees known as “the credit crew.” They’re literally “non-essential” employees—they were sent home during the 2013 government shutdown—and they’re now down to three, because their leader is on loan to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. When I suggested to OMB officials that the crew seemed understaffed to oversee a credit portfolio 25 percent larger than JPMorgan Chase’s, someone pointed out that it’s hiring an intern.
These unregulated and virtually unsupervised federal credit programs are now the fastest-growing chunk of the United States government, ballooning over the past decade from about $1.3 trillion in outstanding loans to nearly $3.2 trillion today. That’s largely because the financial crisis sparked explosive growth of student loans and Federal Housing Administration mortgage guarantees, which together compose two-thirds of the bank of America. But even after the crisis, as a Washington austerity push has restrained direct spending, many credit programs have kept expanding, in part because they help politicians dole out money without looking like they’re spending. In 2012, Congress boosted funding for a transportation loan program called TIFIA eightfold, while launching a similar initiative for water projects called WIFIA. There’s now talk of a new credit program for public buildings—naturally, BIFIA.
One reason for the bank’s explosive growth is old-fashioned special-interest politics, as beneficiaries of credit programs—the real estate industry, for-profit schools, the farm lobby, small-business groups, even shipbuilders—push aggressively to grow them. A Washington money spigot, once opened, is almost never turned off. Since fishermen in the Northwest Halibut/Sablefish and Alaska King Crab fisheries got their own $24 million loan program, it’s a good bet that nobody’s paid closer attention to it on Capitol Hill than their lobbyists. But the federal credit boom has just as much to do with arcane budget politics. Critics believe the unorthodox government accounting system for credit programs dramatically understates their costs, encouraging Congress to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in expected savings that might never materialize. It’s not just a theoretical risk: The FHA has already received a series of unpublicized quasi-bailouts since the financial crisis, amounting to more than the $45 billion government bailout the corporate Bank of America received in 2008. Some critics believe student loans, budgeted as a government moneymaker, could be heading for a far worse fiscal disaster.
But the financial and political risks associated with federal credit have not yet registered with most policymakers, much less the public, even after credit controversies like the solar manufacturer Solyndra’s default on its clean-energy loan, the escalating student debt crisis and the high-profile effort by congressional Republicans to kill the low-profile Export-Import Bank. “The depth of ignorance is stunning,” says Brookings Institution fellow Douglas Elliott, a former investment banker who wrote a book called Uncle Sam in Pinstripes about the government as a financial institution.
Some of the federal government’s credit operations produce failure rates no private bank would tolerate. The Department of Agriculture’s loan programs promoting biofuel refineries, rural broadband and renovations of rural apartment buildings have all performed even worse than MarAd’s, recovering less than 40 cents per dollar, the kind of return you might expect lending to your brother-in-law. The average default rate for private bank loans is about 3 percent; by contrast, the State Department’s “repatriation” loans to Americans who get stuck without cash abroad have a 95 percent default rate. USDA’s main mortgage program for rural families retrieves just 3 cents on the dollar from borrowers who default, suggesting it barely tries to collect when loans go bad.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Congressman Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01) and Senator Marco Rubio (FL) introduced the “Obamacare Taxpayer Bailout Prevention Act” in the House and Senate, which will repeal section 1342 of the President’s health care law to stop bailouts of insurance companies. Section 1342 of Obamacare allows the President to use taxpayer dollars to bailout insurance companies if they lose money on the sale of insurance plans to Americans through the Obamacare exchanges.
“The American people should not have to shoulder the burden of the President’s failed health care plan and bailout insurance companies, while millions across the country have lost their coverage and seen increased health care costs. President Obama continues to sit back and force taxpayers to foot the bill for a law that is crippling the economy, killing jobs, and weakening health care in the United States,” said Dr. Harris. “Section 1342 is just another example of presidential overreach and the President’s complete disregard for the Constitution. Its repeal will protect taxpayers from future costs brought on by his disastrous law.”
“One of the biggest threats to the American Dream is the rising cost of living, which ObamaCare is making worse through rising health care costs and loss of coverage,” said Rubio. “Taxpayers should not have to fund massive bailouts to protect the profits of the insurance companies that helped write Obamacare, which is why I’ve been fighting for over a year to protect taxpayers from yet another bailout that puts them on the hook for Washington’s mistakes.
“Under December’s omnibus spending bill, taxpayers are protected from bailing out insurance companies until September 30, but now Congress has the opportunity to take the possibility of a bailout off the table for good,” added Rubio. “By passing this bill, Congress will ensure that no bailout will occur, in 2016 or ever.”
Last year, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held two hearings last year on the potential Obamacare bailout and found that taxpayers could be paying up to $1 billion through the risk corridor program. The “Obamacare Taxpayer Bailout Prevention Act” will force the Administration to work with Congress to address the potential financial imbalances incurred through the health care exchanges. The recently passed omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2015 prevents the Administration from spending any funds to bailout insurance companies through the risk corridors program.