O'Malley: Election a reaction to GOP 'overreach'
Speaking with reporters in Washington on Monday, Gov. Martin O'Malley framed last week's election as a reaction to Republican economic policies as well as what he called the GOP's "overreach" in targeting public employee unions.
"The voters are paying closer attention than perhaps many pundits gave them credit for," O'Malley said at a news conference at the National Press Club. "And they do not like overreach, they do not like ideology and they do not like mean-spiritedness."
As the chair of the Democratic National Governors association, O'Malley had some reason to crow about Tuesday's election. In addition to holding on to Democratic gubernatorial seats in Kentucky and West Virginia, the party scored a victory in Ohio, where voters turned back union restrictions that had been championed by the state's new GOP governor, John Kasich.
"The voters I believe in effect were saying, 'Look, enough already with the anti-union ideology,'" O'Malley said. "What does banning the unions have to do with creating jobs?"
O'Malley's address, which focused heavily on the economy, comes as his administration is preparing to push a jobs bill in the General Assembly next year. He has argued for additional spending on infrastructure projects as part of that effort and has suggested that an increase in the state's gas tax may be one way to pay for it.
Asked whether Congress should also consider raising the federal gas tax, O'Malley said there is "nothing tougher" during a down economy that asking people to pay more. But he argued that the country is investing far less in infrastrucutre now than it has in past decades.
"Of all the various taxes out there, you'd be sore pressed to find one that's more unpopular than a tax on gasoline," O'Malley said, adding that the state may try to fund its infrastructure spending with a "hybrid" of taxes and fees. "There's no way to build a $90 million bridge for $10 million. So you get what you pay for."
O'Malley also said he met Monday with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Montgomery County Democrat and member of the "supercommittee" on deficit reduction. That panel faces a Nov. 23 deadline to find a way to trim federal budget deficits by $1.2 trillion over 10 years.