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U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md. among speakers at Western Maryland Democratic Summit

April 27, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin kicked off Saturday's 9th Annual Western Maryland Democratic Summit at Hager Hall in Hagerstown.
By Joe Crocetta/Photographer

The ninth annual Western Maryland Democratic Summit on Saturday drew the state’s party heavyweights from the U.S. Senate, House and statehouse, but also featured something this part of the state has not had in many years — a Democrat representing Washington, Garrett and Allegany counties.

U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., of Maryland’s 6th District was among the speakers at Saturday’s event. Delaney defeated longtime Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in the November 2012 general election for the seat representing Western Maryland.

Other speakers Saturday included Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and U.S. Sens. Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski.

Also scheduled to speak were U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, whose 8th District includes parts of Carroll and Frederick counties, and U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., representing the 5th District.

Delaney said he would be uncompromising on core Democratic issues, but was open to compromise with Republicans on some economic issues.

“These are the issues where we have the high ground, where we are on the right side of history,” Delaney said of those core issues such as women’s rights, marriage equality and climate change.

However, economic issues are not always black and white, he told those assembled at the Hager Hall Conference and Event Center.

“They are not entirely wrong on some of these issues,” Delaney said.

“Preserving that this country has a free market is really important,” Delaney said. “Making sure regulations do what they’re designed to do and not overburden our economy. Making sure we have a competitive and vibrant private sector” also are important, he said.

“The perfect is the enemy of the good” in economic policy, Delaney said.

Delaney said he would introduce bipartisan legislation next month to create a $50 billion infrastructure bank “without appropriations.” Funding would come from corporations by giving them “a break on repatriating overseas earnings,” he said.

Those overseas earnings total about $2 trillion, he said.

Mikulski said the Democrats need to get their message out as the 2014 midterm elections approach.

“I would tell you Democrats are getting a bad rap and Republicans are controlling the message,” Mikulski said.

“They create a problem, then blame us for the problem they created,” Mikulski said. “Then, we solve the problem and they take credit for it.”

“I don’t think we have a spending problem. I think we have a problem giving lavish tax breaks to those who don’t need them,” Mikulski said.

The senator pointed to federal spending that has helped Western Maryland, including planes being built at Sierra Nevada’s facility at Hagerstown Regional Airport for patrolling the nation’s borders and recent grants for new firefighting equipment in Carroll County.

“Two wars on a credit card” was the cause of the debt crisis, Mikulski said.

Van Hollen said the Democrats have proposed a “balanced way” to bring the nation’s budget deficits down that includes targeted cuts.

“The Republican position is that you can’t eliminate a tax break ... unless you use it to reduce the tax rate on higher income individuals, or use it to create another tax break for somebody else,” Van Hollen said.

The Republican Party has become less competitive in presidential politics in recent elections, but has become more of a “Housified party,” said Thomas F. Schaller, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Republican majorities in the house since 1994 have been driving the policies, message, philosophy and message of the party to its detriment in Senate and presidential politics, Schaller said.

Republicans have tried unsuccessfully to win back the White House using tactics that include trying to limit early voting and identification requirements, Schaller said.

However, the Democrats need to take 18 seats in 2014 to regain the majority in the House, something Schaller said is unlikely to happen because there are fewer swing districts across the nation than in the past.

Political gridlock might continue if his prediction proves correct, Schaller said.

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