Where he stands: Martin O’Malley

Martin Joseph O’Malley (born Jan. 18, 1963, in Washington, D.C.), a Democrat, was governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015. He previously served as mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007 and was a Baltimore city councilor from 1991 to 1999.

O’Malley was chairman of the Democratic Governors Association from 2011 to 2013. Following his departure from public office in early 2015, he was appointed to the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School as a visiting professor focusing on government, business and urban issues.

As governor, in 2011 he signed a law that would make illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children eligible for in-state college tuition, and in 2012, he signed a law to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. Each law was upheld by a majority of the voting public in 2012.

O’Malley graduated from the Catholic University of American in 1985. He earned a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1988 and passed the bar that same year.


Families’ net worth

  • Reach wage growth of 4 percent annually by 2018. Wages for most American workers have been flat or falling for decades. In addition, recent gains in wage growth have accrued to top earners.
  • Increase the number of families with adequate retirement savings by 50 percent within eight years. One-third of Americans have no retirement savings or pension. Roughly two-thirds of those close to retirement are projected to have inadequate resources when they retire.
  • Cut the pay gap between full-time men and women workers in half by 2025. Overall, women make 78 cents for every dollar men make. If we could close that gap today — through paycheck fairness laws, strong family leave policies and expanded access to quality, affordable child care, among other measures — half of working single motherswould be lifted out of poverty.

Renewable energy

While fossil fuel pollution contributes to 200,000 deaths a year and a growing climate catastrophe, renewable energy technologies have not yet adequately scaled up, in part because of federal policies that still preference the fossil fuel industry. O’Malley will propose a new American clean energy jobs agenda, comprised of detailed policies that will rapidly develop the renewable energy industry, create clean energy jobs and end our reliance on fossil fuels.

Immigration reform

Comprehensive immigration reform will lift wages, create jobs, grow the economy, expand our tax base and improve standards for all workers. Conversely, in the absence of reform, millions of families that contribute to this country every day are one traffic stop away from being torn apart.

Immediately extend executive action to safeguard at least 9 million new Americans from deportation. Tens of thousands of parents are separated from their U.S.-born children, while one in five undocumented adults is at risk of being separated from his or her spouse. And undocumented immigrants face higher incidences of labor abuses such as wage theft, intimidation and dangerous working conditions.

Debt-free college

  • Refinance student loans. All Americans with student debt – including students and their parents – should be able to refinance their loans at lower rates.
  • Tie minimum payments to income. Student borrowers should be automatically enrolled in income-based repayment plans, with loan forgiveness options. Borrowers who do not wish to use repayment plans could opt out of them, while those with private loans should be able to refinance into federal programs.
  • Stop skyrocketing tuition rates. States have slashed higher education investments by an average of 20 percent per student since 2008. Colleges have used tuition increases to make up for 80 percent of lost funding. O’Malley also is calling on states to immediately freeze tuition rates.
  • Restore state higher education funding. As President, O’Malley would partner with states, leveraging federal dollars through matching grants to encourage states to increase funding for public colleges and universities.
  • Tie tuition rates to median incomes.  O’Malley would set a national goal of reducing the cost of tuition to no more than 10 percent of state median income at four-year public universities, and to no more than 5 percent of median income at two-year public colleges. While institutions would be challenged to maintain quality and innovate in education and teaching to reduce costs, states would be required to maintain their own funding efforts which, along with the increased funding from the matching grant program, would ensure universities do not suffer any decrease in educational quality while meeting these goals.
  • Increase Pell grants. Pell grants and state grants should be increased to cover the bulk of non-tuition costs for students who otherwise couldn’t afford them.
  • Expand and modernize work-study. The need-based federal work-study program should be tripled so that at least 2 million students can participate. The program would be redesigned to make placements career-focused, and to better support low- and middle-income, part-time and mid-career students. It will be essential to ensure the program hours are equitable and do not create additional economic hardship or detract from a quality education.

Criminal justice

As President, O’Malley will:

  • Mandate and expand data reporting. The FBI does not collect data on police-involved shootings. Local data also is poor and incomplete. O’Malley has called for legislation to require law enforcement agencies to report data on all police-involved shootings, custodial deaths, discourtesy complaints and use of excessive force. This data should be centralized in a universal database and made publicly available.
  • Establish a national use of force standard. State laws governing when police officers can use excessive force vary greatly. O’Malley will support legislation to require states to review and amend their own use of force laws to comply with federal guidelines.
  • Expand community collaboration and civilian review of police departments. O’Malley would reward and encourage police departments to implement best practices in goal-oriented community policing, including through the eligibility criteria in federal grant programs. These include undergoing racial bias training and crisis de-escalation training; establishing internal accountability measures to track and review civilian complaints and address officer misconduct; and creating and empowering civilian review boards to independently monitor and audit policing cases.
  • Use technology to advance transparency. Technology, including but not limited to body cameras, can improve policing and build community trust in law enforcement. But it must meet community and local law enforcement needs without infringing on individual rights. O’Malley will work with law enforcement, advocates and other stakeholders to establish national standards for deploying and developing technology, while protecting privacy and communities’ access to data produced by body cameras or similar tools.
  • Encourage independent investigations of policing cases. Local prosecutors must work closely with local police on a day-to-day basis, creating possible conflicts of interest in cases regarding police misconduct. As a result, states and cities have begun to appoint independent prosecutors or prosecutors from other jurisdictions in cases where police use deadly force. O’Malley will make these measures model practices, and support legislation to encourage all states to adopt them.
  • Strengthen federal civil rights protections. The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s ability to prosecute cases is limited because federal officials must meet a very high legal standard to bring civil rights charges. O’Malley would call on Congress to revise this standard so that the federal government can act as an effective backstop for ensuring justice.
  • Reform civil asset forfeiture to prioritize public safety. Civil forfeiture allows law enforcement to seize any property they allege is involved in a crime, even if the owner has not been charged or convicted. Originally designed as a way to cripple large criminal organizations, civil forfeiture is now rarely used to address actual crime and is too often abused. O’Malley will support bipartisan efforts in Congress to reform civil forfeiture statutes, reorienting law enforcement activity toward improving public safety and community policing.
  • Reform mandatory minimum sentencing. Punishments often do not fit the crime. Harsh sentences for non-violent offenses have not deterred crime, and have disproportionately impacted communities of color. O’Malley will support legislation that eliminates mandatory minimums for low-level drug offenses, while giving judges more flexibility to tailor sentences based on the facts of each case. He also will continue the Department of Justice’s Smart on Crime initiative, directing U.S. attorneys to exercise greater discretion in their charging decisions.
  • Forge consensus for ending the death penalty. The death penalty is a racially biased and ineffective deterrent, and the appeals process is expensive and cruel to surviving family members. O’Malley has long opposed the death penalty as a matter of principle and as a matter of policy.
  • Support re-entry programming. Since 2008, the bipartisan Second Chance Act has funded community services that help people return to their families from prisons, jails and juvenile facilities. O’Malley will work with Congress to reauthorize and expand funding for Second Chance Act programs, and other services that ease the transition to the outside world. Such services include referrals for housing and benefits, substance abuse treatment, mentoring, education and job training.
  • Expand good time credits. O’Malley will support legislation to allow people in federal prison to earn sentence-reduction credits by completing education and re-entry programs. More broadly, he will support evidence-based, cost-effective reforms that allow people in prisons or jails to earn more good time credit for greater sentence reductions than federal law currently allows.
  • Support access to higher education in prison. O’Malley will work with Congress to support multi-year educational and vocational training programs in correctional facilities, including providing funding for professional teachers and staff. He also will support legislation and take executive action to restore eligibility for Pell grants for people in state and federal prison, which was eliminated in the 1994 crime bill. These investments will increase individuals’ chances of finding jobs once they’ve done their time, and decrease their chances of cycling back into prison later in life.
  • Dramatically reduce the use of solitary confinement and ban solitary for juveniles. Research shows that prisoners subjected to prolonged isolation may experience depression, rage, claustrophobia, hallucinations and severe psychosis that can lead to random violence or suicide. As President, O’Malley will limit its use to the most serious in-prison offenders. He also will fight to pass legislation banning the federal use of solitary confinement for juveniles nationally.
  • Make robust investments in drug treatment. O’Malley will work to expand federal grants to states to support comprehensive drug treatment systems. He will call for tripling the number of states eligible for grants, as well as increasing the aid provided to each state. He will call for requiring states to make matching investments. He also will support regulations and legislation to expand evidence-based treatment for addiction under Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Make robust investments in community mental health infrastructure. More than 80 percent of people with mental illness in jails and prisons do not receive care. O’Malley will invest to provide adequate mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment within correctional facilities. Additionally, he will call for community-based recovery for individuals suffering from mental illness, setting a national target for reducing the number of Americans with serious mental illness behind bars. He will work with Congress to make investments in housing, supported employment and outpatient treatment.
  • Train and equip law enforcement to serve people in crisis. Police officers have increasingly become first responders to people with mental illness or substance abuse problems, often without adequate training. O’Malley will establish federal guidelines for law enforcement on how to best serve people in crisis — including de-escalating encounters, equipping specialized staff and response teams, and intervening in partnership with civilian service providers. He will use federal funds to support state crisis intervention training, work with Congress to make additional investments, and require states to adopt federal crisis intervention guidelines.

Gun violence

As President, O’Malley will:

  • Require a background check for every gun sale. All private sales would be processed through a licensed dealer or law enforcement agency that completes background checks, as O’Malley required in Maryland.
  • End unregulated Internet gun and ammunition sales. Because hundreds of thousands of guns are sold online, people who are prohibited from owning them can easily purchase guns while avoiding a background check. O’Malley will work to require all gun and ammunition purchases to be completed in person through licensed dealers. Buyers will be required to complete a background check and comply with all other safety laws.
  • Strengthen background check protections. O’Malley will work to end “default proceeds,” where agents have only three business days to finish background checks before the sale automatically proceeds. Law enforcement should have the time they need to complete background checks; this broken process allows more than 2,500 prohibited individuals to purchase guns annually. O’Malley also will seek to end the “Brady exemption” that allows permit holders to avoid background checks.
  • Encourage states to improve information sharing. For background checks to be fully effective, states must provide complete and accurate data on persons prohibited from owning guns, including those with felony records and histories of domestic abuse.
  • Set a national age requirement for handgun possession. One-quarter of gun crimes are committed by individuals 21 and younger, based on data from 13 states, and guns are used in 38 percent of suicides among young people. O’Malley will work to set a federal minimum age of 21 for handgun ownership and possession.
  • Require the responsible storage of guns at home. Guns are the second leading cause of death among children and teens, and the first cause among African-American children. Some 70 percent of unintentional child deaths from guns happened when firearms were stored irresponsibly. While licensed dealers are already required to make sure that gun purchasers have safety devices, there is far more to be done to ensure responsible gun storage. O’Malley will extend safety standards to all firearm sales and will issue federal rules clearly defining the gun locks and safes that meet safety standards.
  • Reject federally mandated concealed carry. O’Malley will oppose efforts to force every state to recognize the concealed-carry permits issued by other states. Several states’ concealed-carry laws are weak, granting permits to individuals who do not complete safety training, have been convicted of a violent crime or have a demonstrated history of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Establish a national firearms registry. Federal law actually prohibits creation of a national system for registering firearms. Under O’Malley’s plan, all firearms purchases would be recorded and registered at sale, and re-registered when they are resold or transferred.
  • Mandate reporting to law enforcement of lost or stolen firearms. These reports would be registered in the national database, helping law enforcement more quickly trace guns that are used in crimes — and identify individuals who routinely fail to report lost or stolen guns and may be trafficking firearms.
  • Require microstamping for all guns. Firearms can be designed to imprint a unique alphanumeric code onto a cartridge case when it is fired. This allows law enforcement to better trace guns used in crimes. O’Malley supports a national microstamping law.
  • End immunity for gun manufacturers. Every state holds manufacturers accountable for producing and selling products that cause harm. But in 2005, Congress protected gun makers and dealers from most liability when their firearms are used criminally. O’Malley will fight to allow states and cities to better protect their citizens from negligence, and give victims of mass shootings the ability to hold irresponsible gun manufacturers and dealers accountable.
  • Ban sale or distribution of assault weapons. O’Malley will ban the sale and distribution of all military-style assault weapons, including assault pistols and long guns, as he did in Maryland. He also will ban the sale or distribution of large-capacity magazinesthrough federal regulation.


Gov. O’Malley will:

  • Appoint to key positions — attorney general, assistant attorney general for the criminal division, SEC chairperson — individuals committed to pursuing criminal cases. The Department of Justice and SEC have been over-reliant on financial settlements for institutions that break the law. Settlements, even those in the billions of dollars, are not appropriate deterrents for institutions with trillions of dollars of assets.
  • Require the SEC director of the division of enforcement to be a presidential appointee, subject to Senate confirmation. Currently, the SEC’s director of enforcement is appointed by and entirely at the discretion of the SEC chairperson. In recent years, this has led to appointing Wall Street in-house lawyers and their outside lawyers to this critical position.
  • Institute a three-year revolving door ban. O’Malley will bar anyone serving in a financial policy or regulatory role from working for any person or entity appearing before their former agency/department — or any agency/department they had contact with when serving the public — for three years. This triples and aggressively strengthens the existing bar, which currently applies only to “senior” officials.
  • Institute an additional three-year mandatory disclosure rule. In addition to the above ban, O’Malley also will require these individuals to disclose any direct or indirect contact with agencies/departments they had contact with for an additional three years. This policy should include people working at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Department of Justice (DOJ) staff that work on economic crimes, Treasury Department, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Reserve Board, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
  • Right-size big banks using living wills. Although major banks are required to produce living wills under Dodd-Frank, they have resisted compliance. If banks cannot produce a living will that credibly sets forth a detailed plan on how they would be resolved in bankruptcy without causing a crash of the financial system and without any bailouts, O’Malley will require the Fed to take remedial action to make the bank smaller.
  • Mandate higher capital requirements for big banks. In addition to requiring banks to fund themselves with equity instead of debt, this gives regulators more leeway in the event of a crisis – without posing additional burdens on smaller banks. O’Malley will strengthen capital reserve requirements for the largest banks, requiring institutions with more than $500 billion in assets to have capital reserves of not less than 15 percent.

Congressional campaign funding

O’Malley would require public funding of Congressional campaigns within five years. In the five years since Citizens United, super PACs, corporations and other outside groups have spent almost $2 billion targeting federal elections — about 2.5 times what they spent, in total, between 1990 and 2008.

At the same time, for the first time in decades, the total number of small donors has begun to fall. In 2014, the top 100 donors to super PACs spent almost as much money as every single small-dollar donor combined. Our broken campaign finance system allows special interests to drown out the voices of everyday Americans and stymies policies that would benefit the middle class.

Monday: Rand Paul


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