This is a pretty cool space here. Beth Blauer from our StateStat would like a space like this. So we told her our budgeting found 29 dollars and 99 cents to go wild with the renovations and be innovative, by all means.
It’s really good to be here, and some of you I’ve known for a number of years. Keiffer Mitchell and I have been through the wringer and through the worst together and a great fight for Maryland, the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And some of you I know from DLC days, and remember you all coming around and making the leap of faith that was required to become part of the New Deal. And I’m honored to be one of the co-chairs this year, along with former mayor – before he was demoted – Mark Begich. Once a mayor, always a mayor. And I know that he wears that title with pride, as well.
Now, look, I have some thoughts, by way of opening it up, and I think what we want to be able to do with this time we have together is to have a conversation and to be able to open it up.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly have missed those opportunities that we had in the past with the DLC to be able to get together with people that weren’t necessarily in our own city or in our state government, or Federal government, or county government to be able to come and share some ideas.
I’ve already in the last couple of sessions took down a few good suggestions to bring home. The best things we’ve ever done in the state or city government were all the things acquired and adapted from other people.
So I’m going to share some kind of broad-view thoughts and then maybe we’ll just see where the conversation goes.
It’s my honor to be able to be with all of you. And I think that term ‘pro-growth progressive’ is an important and a good term for us to have. I’m honored to be part of the New Deal and I look forward to working with all of you.
In Maryland over the past five years, with performance measurement, we’ve been making our government more effective. We’ve been openly setting public goals. We’ve been transparently measuring our progress towards achieving those goals. And in the toughest of times, we’ve made some pretty important progress in our State.
How do we measure progress? Your traditional economic measures like GDP, gross domestic product, tell us important things. But in Maryland we also believe that genuine progress requires a much broader, a more holistic, more comprehensive, more inclusive use of what we mean by quality of life, and a quality of life that means a more balanced and holistic value of community than mere consumption.
Robert Kennedy many, many years ago spoke very, very eloquently about GDP and how it “measures everything except that which makes us proud to be Americans.” He said you overlook things when you just look at GDP, like the health of our children, the quality of their education, the joy of their play – those things that make life worthwhile.
So one of the things I wanted to share with you that we’ve been doing is measuring things beyond GDP. We have adopted a genuine progress indicator, and we measure things like the cleanliness of our environment; the health of our air; the amount of time we spend in traffic; what it means to a community when fewer of our neighbors are underemployed; the social capital sparked when more citizens volunteer; the value of higher education to the strength of our State’s economy.
We are openly measuring about 26 indicators of genuine progress, because of our pro-growth vision of progress. In our State, we’re a state that aspires to be a Maryland that is smart, green and growing. Smart, green and growing.
Beth might have shared with some of you in the StateStat presentation, we kind of focused in on 15 over-arching goals for our State and they fall into four broad clusters and each of them is connected to the other. And they are in the broad areas of the health of our people; the skills of our people; the security of our people; and sustainability – the manner in which we seek to live in a more renewing way and a more balanced way in a financial environment.
So have we have goals for strengthening the skills of our world-class workforce, like improving educational achievement by 25 percent by 2015. Measuring our progress to goal in State testing we’ve increased reading proficiency among eighth grade students by 21 percent and math proficiency by 17 percent. At the same time, our NAEP scores are actually rising and for three years in a row we were named the number one public school system in America by Education Week magazine.
On sustainability, we have goals for restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay reaching our healthy bay tipping point by 2020. Measuring our progress – I think importantly not in 20 years down the road goals, but in two-year milestones. It’s the first time all of the states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have adopted two-year benchmarks for reducing the nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment flow into the Bay from the land that is Maryland. And we are going to hit that first two-year goal. The reward for hitting any two-year goal, is that the goal becomes harder in the following year. But we are going to hit our first two-year goal, probably be the only state that was able to do that. And it wasn’t by accident, it was because of the actions, these things that we’ve chosen to do, like cover crops and the like.
We have goals for public safety and security, like reducing violent crime by 20 percent by 2012. It was a goal we established and set just four years ago, and we are now at 17 percent of that 20 percent reduction goal. You know, we’ve driven violent crime down to the lowest rates our State has seen since the 1970s. We’re sharing information better and doing the things that drive those numbers, those graphs, in the right direction.
We have goals for improving the health of our people. Goals like reducing infant mortality, which we’ve actually exceeded. We’ve driven it down by 16 percent, our goal we set two years ago was at 10 percent.
And we have some goals, frankly, where the graphs are moving in the wrong direction. We established a goal of reducing electricity consumption by 15 percent. Last year it actually ticked up by 2 percent, so we have to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get those moving in the right direction.
And the most important goal of all that we’ve set is the goal of job creation. Since January we’ve created 20,000 net new jobs in our State. It is a rate of job creation in the last measure that had us ranking 10th of all the 50 states in job creation.
So, anyway, that’s kind of who we are and what we do and how we run our government. I’m not going to spend more time on that because you’ll have time to sit-in with Beth. Others of you had told me that you’ve seen CityStat and you’ve adapted it and used it in your hometown and maybe we can get into more of that in a conversational mode.
Let me talk with you a little bit about – I think a bigger struggle is going on right now in our country and that is our search for a way forward. Our search for a way to transform our economy, to renew our economy, to regenerate our economy, to make the tough, but right, decisions in order to create jobs and opportunities now.
And what we have here is the landscape – and I know I don’t have to remind any of us in this room about – these are very polarized times… very, very difficult to cross that divide that’s in our country right now. We have competing ideas of citizenship, competing ideas in what it means to be a citizen of the United States. Competing stories about where our country is headed.
You know, if you believe the larger story that our country is continuing to rise, and there’s a set of choices that you make that are responsible and smart choices, as an individual or for your family.
If, on the other hand, the country is in perpetual decline and there’s nothing you can do about that, then there’s a different set of choices that for mere survival’s sake you might say or set. You don’t pull up the drawbridge and separate off and decline.
If there’s anything that we should have learned from the administration of George W. Bush, it is that trickle-down economics does not work. And yet, we have the battle going on between two competing economic models; one that’s proven to work in every generation, that brought us growth, that brought us job creation, that brought us the expansion of opportunity and a stronger middle-class, and one that brought us record debt and record unemployment.
One that built the largest and strongest middle class in the history of the planet, versus one that brought us declining middle-class incomes for the first time since World War II, and very nearly drove our national economy into a second Great Depression.
And these two fundamentally different sets of choices are playing out, not only in Congress, but in statehouses and in our county office buildings throughout our country.
You look at Ohio as one extreme example among many, where Governor Kasich is making deep cuts in economic priorities – economic necessities – like public education, even as he cuts taxes for the estates of dead millionaires and billionaires, hoping, I can only suppose, that they will reach back from the grave to create jobs and opportunities that they were not able to create in life.
By their own trickle-down theory, this mass of concentration of wealth, accomplished primarily through massive tax loopholes for the one percent, was supposed to bring about better times, not economic disaster.
If their theory worked, millions of jobs should be falling from the sky right now, because that top sliver has never had a greater share of the nation’s wealth.
They created only one million jobs during the Bush decade. Compare that to the 23 million jobs that were created during President Clinton’s years. I report, you decide: which one is the more effective model for creating jobs and expanding opportunities and making our country stronger?
They succeeded in accomplishing their means – that is, the extreme concentration of wealth – but it did not bring in any residual growth.
So as pro-growth progressives, we reject that model. It’s not fiscally responsible, it’s not good for our country, and President Obama rejects that model as well.
You and I, I believe, accept a different model, a more effective model, a more traditional, American model. That model that puts job creation first, that recognizes that to create jobs a modern economy requires modern investments. And that’s not a Democratic or Republican idea, it’s an American idea, an historic and economic truth that we have proved out time and time again.
We have a long, long way to go before we recover all that we lost in that last decade of loss. What I wanted to share were a couple of progress points that I share wherever I go. I think I was on a conference call the other day with – some of you might have been on it as well. We had some of the message people for the President’s re-election campaign and they said, you know, ‘We have to be really careful – we don’t want to be guilty of spiking the ball in the first quarter.’
I don’t think we’re in danger of spiking the ball. We’re in danger of not running the ball out of the end zone. I mean, there are things that have changed for the better in our country’s economy and we’re not talking about them. And the other guys sure as hell aren’t going to talk about it. And if you ever tune in to Haley Barbour and the other talking heads from their side, their fundamental thrust is, ‘He took a bad situation and he’s made it worse. He made it worse, he made it worse.’
There are many things that are actually getting better. If we don’t start saying it, nobody else is going to say it for us.
And so, I’d encourage you as you go home – I mean, and all of you are skilled or you wouldn’t have been elected to begin with – we have to meet people where they’re at. We have to wrap everything in: ‘I know that we’re not where we want to be, I know we haven’t recovered all that we’ve lost. But consider this, with 13 months in a row – 13 months in a row we’ve had positive month to month job creation for 13 consecutive months.’
You know when the last time was that that happened? 2005 to 2006 was the last time we had this many consecutive months in a row of positive job creation. Is it as fast as we want it to be? No, it’s not as fast as we’d like it to be. But it’s not getting worse. Some things are getting better.
The auto industry, which many people thought was gone and we would never get back, because of the choices, because of the investments, because of the political risks and the decisions that we made together as a party and that the President made, are leading the advanced manufacturing industry, the automotive industry is actually hiring again. 100,000 new jobs just over the last couple of years in the auto industry.
Private sector job growth is 20 consecutive months in a row. And foreclosures, in July we actually battled home foreclosures down to the lowest rates that we’ve seen in 44 months, to a lower rate than what was going on before the President was elected.
So we do have a long way to go. But because we’re starting to make better choices as a people, our economy is starting to get better. Bank failures are down, corporate profits are up, our economy is starting to get a little better. But better isn’t good enough and we still have a long way to go. We haven’t regained all we’ve lost, citizens are hurting, still searching for work, there’s a lot to do.
And the truth of our situation is, we’re not going to move beyond our current job creation and employment difficulties, simply by cutting. If it feels like we’re taking one or two steps forward every month and then another one step back, that’s because for every two or three jobs the private sector creates, we eliminate one in the public sector in some town, in some county, in some school board, some municipality, in some state.
Taking it all together, all of those public sector employment cut, cut, cuts have been a drug on our economy. If our public payrolls were bloated, perhaps we can all chalk that up to right-sizing. But that’s not generally the case.
How much less public safety would be good for Baltimore or Newark? How much less education would be good for our country? For the last decade I firmly believe that we’ve been severely under-capitalizing the job-generating and opportunity-expanding idea that is America. We’ve been under-investing in that common platform of job creation and opportunity expansion called the United States.
Others may rightly want to talk about the morality of an economic system that is rigged to concentrate so much of our nation’s wealth in the hands of so few, but I am just as concerned about how these poor choices keep us from making those basic core investments that only we can make for ourselves in education and innovation and infrastructure that make this country go. You know, China and India aren’t going to do these things for us. And it’s not what other countries are doing to us; it’s what we’re not doing to ourselves.
You’ve heard the stats before. In Eisenhower’s time, 12 percent of our Federal non-defense spending was invested in infrastructure; today’s it’s 3 percent. We’re doing 60 percent less, in terms of our investments in research and development than we were on the day that Richard Nixon was sworn into office as President.
In just the last 10 years we’ve slipped from one of the highest percentages of our workforce having college education and now we’re ranking 12th. And the cost of a college education is continuing to go up, even with a cut, cut, cut approach, which is not pro-growth and not what our country needs to create jobs.
So, look, I’ve rattled on long enough here. Let me wrap up with this thought:
Today we face a host of deficits. We were talking earlier in one of the sessions – what room name were we in? Was it Charlotte?… Somewhere between Charlotte and New York and other places I got lost.
But in the Charlotte room we were talking about the various deficits we face as a country. And, yeah, we have a big Federal deficit, which we need to tackle. But we also face an investment deficit and we face a compassion deficit, and we face an understanding deficit. And these are really the enemies within.
We need to find the right alchemy, the right combination of language and speech to make this argument without anger, and without meanness, and without fear, to lay out the choices that are in front of us. And that’s going to require us not only to grow our economy and not only to grow the options; it’s going to require all of us really to grow in terms of the spirit of this nation which we represent and which we benefit.
People are tired of back and forth on television. We need to focus on what’s in the best interest of our country, what’s in the best interest of our kids, what are the choices – the better choices – that we need to make so our children are more likely to be winners rather than losers in this new economy.
And I think if we do that, and if we put our confidence of engagement, our proven economic policies up against theirs, I believe that next year can be a very, very positive year for us. It can help get our country out of this sand trap that we’ve found ourselves in, in these last few polarized years.
So, again, it’s an honor to be with all of you, and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts at the outset of important, important mission ahead of us.