WASHINGTON (AP) — Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday blamed the nation’s economic troubles on “trickle-down politics” advocated for decades by Republicans and on the “disastrous presidency” of George W. Bush.

“Trickle-down economics has been an abject failure for 99 percent of Americans,” O’Malley, a potential Democratic presidential contender in 2016, said in a speech dealing with economic policies that benefit the middle-class. “If we want to deliver better results, if we want to strengthen our middle class and if we want to expand middle-class opportunity once again, then we have to be willing to make better choices.”

He argued that President Barack Obama has been forced to clean up from the “disastrous presidency of George Bush the younger,” where he said “spending jumped off the tracks with no revenues to support it.”

“Kerosene was put on the fires of tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the very, very wealthiest of our society, so President Obama’s been digging out of that hole ever since,” O’Malley told a crowd at the Center for American Progress Action Fund in Washington. But he also said Democrats deserved some blame for being complicit with some Republican policies and for “going along with some of the falsehoods” suggesting that tax cuts can lead to job creation.

The governor participated later in the day in a panel discussion at the headquarters of the AFL-CIO labor federation. The speaking engagement, along with a trip to Israel last month and recent appearances in states that hold early presidential voting contests, come as O’Malley publicly mulls entering the race to succeed Obama and amid ongping efforts to introduce his policies to audiences outside of Maryland.

State Republican Party chairwoman Diana Waterman issued a statement after the speech challenging O’Malley’s characterization of Maryland as a good place for business.

“The huge divide between the political class in Annapolis and community leaders have left us with outrageously high taxes, a hostile regulatory environment, and thousands of people who are closing shop or leaving the state for greener pastures. This `progress’ he likes to boast about will be a tough sell to voters in Iowa and tax-wary New Hampshire,” the statement said.

The governor and former Baltimore mayor spent most of the Thursday morning address touting what he says is the state’s success in lifting up the middle class and promoting education, research and development and civil rights.

He touted the state’s record on civil rights, specifically noting the passage of same-sex marriage legislation and a state version of the Dream Act, which permits immigrants living in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

“On the other hand, things like inequality, things like discrimination, exclusivity, intolerance, disparity, division — these are the things that weaken the potential of our innovative economy,” he said.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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