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What does Martin O’Malley believe? Where the candidate stands on 11 issues

BY and   May 30, 2015 at 1:21 PM EDT
Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is expected to make his White House bid announcement Saturday. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley made his White House bid announcement today. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

He is a former Baltimore mayor and two-term Maryland governor who now works as a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. Martin O’Malley is known for his sweeping gun control push, cap-and-trade carbon emissions policy as well as his state’s flawed Obamacare roll-out and his now controversial get-tough-on-crime approach. Able to do a mean Johnny Cash impression, he was part of the inspiration behind a character on HBO’s “The Wire.” Here’s where the Democrat stands on eleven top issues.

Banks and Wall Street: Separate commercial and investment banks. Increase penalties for financial crimes.

In op-eds and speeches, O’Malley argues for increased structural reform of America’s financial system. He supports reinstating Glass-Steagall, a repealed policy dating back to the Great Depression that separated commercial and investment banks. He has also called for more strict oversight of all financial institutions and harsher penalties for those found guilty of wrongdoing.

Budget: Mix spending cuts with tax increases. Restructure pension plans.

Required by Maryland law to pass a balanced budget, as governor, O’Malley tackled a $1.7 billion deficit by cutting government funding and raising taxes (see more in “Taxes” section below). He also turned to borrowing from the bond market and restructuring the state’s pension program. It is not clear whether O’Malley believes the federal budget must be balanced.

Climate Change: It is real and a “natural threat.” Government should regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

O’Malley believes that climate change is real and called it a “natural threat” on ABC’S “This Week” in April, distinguishing it from “man-made” threats in that interview. In 2007, while governor, he signed a cap-and-trade program to curb greenhouse emissions and established a statewide Statewide Commission on Climate Change with the goal of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. O’Malley believes hydrofracking should be allowed with strict limits. As governor, O’Malley passed subsidies for wind farms and called for greener waste reduction practices.

Guns: Increase gun control. Ban dozens of assault weapons. Limit size of gun magazines. Require fingerprints to buy a handgun.

The Democrat is a critic of the National Rifle Association and proponent of gun control measures. As governor of the Old Line State, he pushed for and signed sweeping gun control legislation, banning 45 types of assault weapons, limiting magazine clips to ten bullets and requiring anyone purchasing a handgun to enter a fingerprint database.

Immigration: Create a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. Pass the DREAM Act. Allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates.

O’Malley told the Des Moines Register he supports immigration reform with a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally now. In his interview with ABC’s “This Week,” the Democrat advocated for the DREAM Act, which would give legal status to undocumented immigrants brought to America as children. As governor, O’Malley signed a bill allowing undocumented students in Maryland to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.

Obamacare and health care: Expand the Affordable Care Act. Move to an “all-payer” system.

An Obamacare advocate, O’Malley supported expanding Maryland’s health insurance options before the Affordable Care Act became law. When implementing the new healthcare law during his tenure, Maryland’s online health exchange saw repeated problems. It was overhauled in 2014. O’Malley supported and approved a unique statewide Medicare waiver, designed to move Maryland hospitals away from a fee-for-service payment method. Considered the nation’s only “all-payer system,” the state sets medical costs, capping what hospitals can charge. O’Malley has said he wants to the system to be a model for the nation.

Social issues: Legalize same-sex marriage. Allow access to abortion. Abolish capital punishment.

While governor, O’Malley sponsored the law legalizing gay marriage in Maryland. A practicing Catholic, he argues the stance squares with his faith’s belief in maintaining “human dignity.”

O’Malley has described his view on abortion as “pro choice”. Aides have said he supported a 1992 Maryland referendum which stated that abortions should be legal, without government restriction, until the time in pregnancy when a fetus can survive outside the womb.

The White House hopeful is opposed to the death penalty, a practice he outlawed in Maryland in 2013. In one of his last acts as governor, in December 2014, O’Malley commuted the sentences of Maryland’s four remaining death row inmates.

Taxes and wages: Use tax increases to fund government programs. Raise the minimum wage. Strengthen union bargaining.

While governor, O’Malley advocated the use of tax increases to fund significant budget items. He signed an increase on the state gas tax to fund transportation projects, a boost in the state sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent and a state income tax change that raised rates for Maryland individuals earning over $100,000 or households making over $150,000.

As part of a campaign against income inequality, O’Malley signed a bill raising his state’s minimum wage to $10.10, phased in gradually. He has since indicated that he could support raising wages to $15 an hour. In addition, he advocates reforming the overtime pay system, and strengthening collective bargaining.

Trade: Block the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

O’Malley recently criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an international trade deal backed by the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans, arguing that it would hurt the middle class. He has since expanded on the point, telling NPR he wants increased labor regulations.

Israel and Iran: Continue negotiations with Iran. Work for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestinians.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” O’Malley called the potential of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon one of the world’s greatest man-made threats. He supports ongoing nuclear talks between the Obama administration and Iranian leadership. O’Malley advocates a two-state solution between Israel and Palestinians and has said, as allies, both the United States and Israel need to work to ease the tension between them.

Islamic State and Iraq: No specific stance yet. Congress should set clear parameters for any use of ground troops.

O’Malley has yet to announce a specific policy for how the United States should address the threat from Islamic State and current issues in Iraq. In February, he posted a short statement to Facebook saying that any plan should explicitly define its timeframe and that Congress should pass an Authorization for the Use of Military Force that clarifies the parameters for use of ground troops.

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