Former governor Martin O'Malley laid out his five-point plan for improving the country's economy on Thursday, continuing to strike the populist tone that has marked the run up to his expected presidential campaign.

In a speech at the Harvard Institute of Politics in Boston, O'Malley took aim at "trickle-down economics" as the primary culprit for the nation's concentration of wealth and promoted what he described as a policy of inclusion to would improve the middle class.


"Americans are demanding a better balance," O'Malley said, according to his prepared remarks.

The former governor, a Democrat, called for better wage policies, investing in education and universal pre-Kindergarten, ending bad trade deals, expanding social security and greater accountability for Wall Street.

"Explain to me how it is that you can get pulled over for a broken tail light in our country, but if you wreck the world's economy you are untouchable?" he said.

O'Malley is expected to announce in late May whether he will officially join his party's 2016  presidential primary contest, and has spent the months since leaving office in January traveling to early primary states.

Aides characterized Thursday night's address as a policy speech that laid out O'Malley's economic vision. He has previously mentioned all these ideas publicly, but the speech at the John F. Kennedy's School of Government was the first time they coalesced into a single address.

O'Malley panned the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact as  bad deal that would send jobs overseas, and he called for a higher national minimum wage indexed to inflation. He said he thinks the country should broaden its view of which workers qualify for overtime pay and make it easier for workers to unionize and bargain for better wages.

He pointed to paid leave and affordable childcare as key to improving the economy, and said  he believes it is an economic imperative to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

In critiquing the economy, O'Malley characterized the 2008 financial collapse as a result of economic polices that concentrated wealth among the country's richest and failed to help the vast majority of Americans.

By all accounts, O'Malley's primary bid is a long-shot against former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, who formally announced her candidacy Sunday and enjoys commanding leads in the polls.  The former governor's public comments have made clear that he is positioning himself as a more progressive alternative.

Despite O'Malley's travel to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina over the past several years, he continues to poll around 1 percent. O'Malley has garnered increased media attention over the past few months as some Democrats and pundits look for an alternative to Clinton.