The Catholic University of America

Nov. 17, 2014

Governor Discusses 'An Economy with a Human Purpose'

  Md. Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks about the economy in Caldwell Auditorium.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley gave a presentation on the economy Nov. 13 as part of a National Policy Forum organized by the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies. The governor’s speech took place in Caldwell Auditorium before a crowd of more than 100.

Titled “An Economy with a Human Purpose — Better Choices for Greater Middle Class Opportunity,” O’Malley’s talk focused on the ways the economy has changed in recent decades and possible strategies he believes could make it better.

O’Malley, a Catholic University alumnus who graduated in 1985, began his address by reminiscing about his years as an undergraduate and the times he spent in Caldwell Hall. He then talked about his own career, during which he has served as mayor of Baltimore for seven years and governor of Maryland for eight.

During his time as the mayor of Baltimore, O’Malley said he adopted a method of governing inspired by the approach Rudy Giuliani took as mayor of New York City in the 1990s. Rather than focusing on annual incomes and budgets, his system — which O’Malley calls CompStat — is based on performance measurements and data tracking as well as biweekly meetings to look at what is working and what is not.

That leadership strategy helped bring about positive changes for Maryland, O’Malley said. Now he is beginning to see other cities and states trying similar approaches.

“This new way of governing is fundamentally entrepreneurial,” O’Malley said. “It asks a question: ‘What works? What moves us forward? What ideas serve?’ It is collaborative in its nature.”

O’Malley also talked about the nation’s economy and how it has changed over the years. He cited statistics about how the median income for those in the very highest percentage of wage earners in the country has risen dramatically in recent decades, while the income for the rest of the population has changed very little.
Citing the need for improvements in what he called “the five pillars of economic success” — education, infrastructure, immigration, innovation, and a stable and predictable rule of law — O’Malley challenged students in attendance to work toward solutions that would reflect the common good.

“We can do better than this, we have done better than this, and with your help and your awareness we can get better,” he said.

O’Malley’s lecture was introduced by Stephen Schneck, director of IPR, who noted how pleased he was to see many students in attendance, including members of the College Republicans and the College Democrats.

“I think — and I’m sure Gov. O’Malley would appreciate this as well — students here at The Catholic University of America could do quite a bit to show the folks downtown in the white buildings about how to work across the aisle,” Schneck said.

O’Malley’s lecture was followed by a brief question-and-answer period and a panel discussion of analysts and scholars. The panel was led by Schneck and included Norman J. Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; Matthew Green, IPR fellow and associate professor of politics; and Carrie Budoff Brown, a reporter for Politico.

A panel of experts, including (from left) Stephen Schneck, director of IPR; Carrie Budoff Brown, a reporter for Politico; Matthew Green, IPR fellow and associate professor of politics; and Norman J. Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute respond to Gov. O'Malley's address.   

During the 45-minute discussion, the panelists discussed the strategies put forward in O’Malley’s lecture, the ways his ideas could be perceived by members of the Republican Party, and his viability as a potential presidential candidate.

Ornstein, a former Catholic University faculty member for 13 years, spoke about how he taught O’Malley and other successful public figures.

Ornstein said that though O’Malley has had some success as a mayor and a governor, he has encountered a few setbacks, including this month’s election in which Anthony Brown, his Democratic successor as governor, was defeated by Republican Larry Hogan. If O’Malley decides to run for president, Ornstein said he will face entirely new challenges.

“It seemed pretty clear to me that this talk here tonight was a trial … I think he’s trying to figure out what rhythm to use as he moves out on the trail,” Ornstein said. “I think it’s a work in progress that needs a lot of work. And let’s face it, it’s going to be an uphill battle against Hillary Clinton and other candidates to the left of her.”

“He’s articulating a platform that sounds a lot to me like what Barack Obama talked about in 2008 and what the Democratic platform has been since then,” said Brown.

“This is what Democrats believe in right now — the value and potential of green jobs and infrastructure and minimum wage and making college more affordable … This is certainly something Democrats will want to hear from him. He sounds like he’s running for president to me and he kind of looks like it too. So I think the challenge for someone like him is, ‘How are you going to advance this?’”

Green said he does not believe the election results earlier this month will cripple O’Malley’s presidential prospects, but that there will be other challenges.

“The biggest problem he faces is the same one all of the folks in the Democratic Party running for president face,” Green said. “If you’re a political scientist and you’re going to make a statistical model for who gets elected president, one of the best predictors is how many terms your party already held the White House. The longer your party holds the White House, the harder it is to keep holding it.”

O’Malley’s address was the second in IPR’s National Policy Forum series. On July 23, IPR and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention hosted an address by Florida Senator Marco Rubio on the topic of values. For more information on IPR or to see coming events, go to


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