O'Malley's record doesn't match his rhetoric [Commentary]

The continuing embarrassment that is the Martin O'Malley administration's roll out of Obamacare in Maryland certainly won't bode well for the governor's presidential prospects.

You may not be able to sign up for health insurance on the state website, but I hear the customer service line points you to a nice potter in Seattle who can give you a good deal on an ash tray.


By the way, where is Anthony Brown?

The problems plaguing the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange have exposed the cheap facade of Mr. O'Malley's presidential pitch: that he is the "data driven," "results oriented" leader who gets things done. In a 2013 Politico article titled "Martin O'Malley wants to be Mr. Fix It," O'Malley said, "we're not arguing for bigger government. We're arguing for more effective government, and also smarter investments."


Mr. O'Malley furthers this persona by touting his signature performance management system StateStat. The program is more a political marketing tool than a system of accountability. The vaunted StateStat system failed to warn the Department of Public Safety Correctional Services about contraband cell phones entering the state run Baltimore City Detention Center. Why? Because according to its own reports, StateStat wasn't measuring contraband cell phones entering the facility. So much for "things that get measured are things that get done."

In a 2009 report for the Free State Foundation, veteran State House reporter Len Lazarick wrote that StateStat, "does not yet come close to delivering on its promise to provide Marylanders 'with open, transparent, and timely information and data on state government agencies' because the information is indecipherable detail without analysis."

The health exchange website and the detention center debacle are not the only blemishes on the Martin O'Malley record. Reports available at the Office of Legislative Audits website provide a compendium of mismanagement and waste over the last seven years of the O'Malley administration.

For example:

• Millions in lost and overpaid funds at the Developmental Disabilities Administration, the same agency that left $38 million unspent with thousands of people waiting for services and owes the federal government $21 million for faulty Medicaid claims.

Faulty accounting practices by state agencies resulting in $96 million in additional spending to cover deficiencies.

Failure to follow up on criminal background checks for child care facilities by the State Department of Education;

The Department of Business and Economic Development failing to properly monitor state tax credits


Failure to timely inspect elevators by the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation

And a lack of accountability for the state's speed camera vendor and the State Highway Administration.

StateStat, interestingly enough, has never been audited by OLA.

Welcome to the Potemkin Village of One Maryland.

There is a deeper concern though, beyond the disparity between Mr. O'Malley's rhetoric and the reality of his record. His pragmatist shtick is a thin veil for his true, progressive, technocratic vision of governing, i.e., the right people, in the right positions, pushing the right buttons. Mr. O'Malley denies he's an ideologue, all the while decrying ideologues on the right. However, run down the grocery list of progressive policy prescriptions, and you'll find Martin O'Malley has checked off most of the items.

"Effective government" and "smarter investments" are simply code words for a government not only larger in size but larger in scope. It's not just Mr. O'Malley's massive tax increases that divert more money out of your pocket to Democratic special interests but policies that usurp property rights through PlanMaryland and septic regulations, last year's gun law diminishing our Second Amendment rights and forcing electric ratepayers to subsidize his favored forms of energy.


Mr. O'Malley isn't a pragmatist, he just plays one on TV.

Seven years of One Maryland pragmatism, sure does feel like seven years of slouching toward progressivism, a progressivism that has over promised and woefully under delivered.

Mark Newgent is a frequent contributor to Red Maryland, a conservative radio network and blog whose content appears regularly in The Baltimore Sun and on His email is

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