O'Malley, Ah-nold play the White House, pump up stimulus
A pair of men in dark suits stepped up to a bank of microphones outside the West Wing this afternoon. As video cameras rolled and still photographers clicked, the guy who hadn't dyed his hair a vaguely greenish hue of brown was first to speak.
"Hello," he said. "I'm Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's warmup act." Pause. "My name is Governor Martin O'Malley from the great state of Maryland."
Give the Maryland guy credit. Unlike some people in politics, he knows his place (at least in this instance).
The two governors from opposite coasts were in town to provide a bipartisan backdrop for Joe Biden as the VP delivered another pitch for the virtues of the vast government stimulus program.
In this case, the event coincided with the release of new figures showing that the stimulus provided California with more than 100,000 jobs (created or "saved") while Maryland's tally was more modest--around 6,700 or, if you pumped it up, about 14,000, which includes indirect jobs and what O'Malley termed "induced" jobs, whatever those are.
Schwarzenegger remarked to Biden that he'd be happy for the feds to "send double" the $50 billion that the Golden State expects to receive from the stimulus program. Maryland has been promised about $4.6 billion so far.
The governors told reporters they'd be open to receiving additional federal stimulus aid, if the original $787 billion slug doesn't put the country on an upward path of sustained economic growth.
"The more the better," said Schwarzenegger.
O'Malley said Maryland's government "would welcome any additional help that the federal government can provide. What way, shape, or form that takes I'm not sure."
Washington is expected tp send more unemployment assistance to hard-core jobless Americans; however, Marylanders might not qualify, since the state is faring much better on the jobs front than the country as a whole. President Barack Obama has also talked about giving $250 checks to every Social Security recipient, to make up for the absence of an inflation increase in retirement benefits next year.
O'Malley said there could well be a need for more health care money from the federal government, if Congress and Obama expand Medicaid assistance for the poor, one of the most expensive programs for the state, as part of a health care overhaul.
Earlier, when Biden and the two governors were introduced to about 200 stimulus job recipients from federal, state and local governments, Schwarzenegger's name was the only one to draw an audible gasp from the audience.
O'Malley, whose non-political entertainment career is limited mainly to his work in a glorified bar band, said he never before shared a stage in quite this way with Schwarzenegger, whose lifetime box office gross (more than $1.6 billion) could stimulate several small states.
But the two men do have something in common, in addition to their job title: both have daughters who are freshmen at Georgetown University and live on the same dormitory floor.
"So, small world," said O'Malley, whose daughter emailed him last night before to say that Schwarzenegger would be on campus. No word if Schwarzenegger got a similar message from his daughter that O'Malley was in town.