Maryland Campaign Kicks Off to Beat the Debt

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While Republicans and Democrats in Annapolis, Md., have a lot they disagree on, there's one thing party members from both sides of the aisle can get behind: debt reduction. According to a report from the Associated Press, former aides to both Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich will become members of the Maryland Campaign to Fix the Debt.

Here are the facts regarding the new bipartisan debt reduction initiative and the people involved in the effort.

* The former aides are former Ehrlich Chief of Staff and Budget Secretary Chip DiPaula Jr. and Michael R. Enright, a former O'Malley chief of staff.

* The Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post report that a number of other familiar faces will be part of the effort, including former chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party Michael Cryor; Ehrlich's 2010 running mate Mary D. Kane; Ehrlich speechwriter Richard Cross; former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, a Democrat; and former congressmen Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) and Tom McMillen (D-Md). McMillen and Gilchrest competed for the same seat in 1992.

* Former O'Malley Communications Director Steve Kearney's public affairs firm is managing the campaign.

* The effort is forming as Congress nears the deadline for a number of large budget cuts and tax increases triggered by the "fiscal cliff."

* Enright was quoted by the Baltimore Sun as saying that the "the clock is ticking here," adding that "This has implications for every one of us."

* DiPaula concurred, and both men noted that each side in the debate will have to grant some concessions. "We have serious problems that need to be addressed and that means everyone has to participate in the solution," according to DiPaula. "We're trying to lend our voices, in our case on a state level, to ask our representatives to find a solution."

* The Maryland campaign is part of the national Fix the Debt campaign, founded by Erskine Bowles and Sen. Alan Simpson. Simpson and Bowles recommended that the deficit by cut by $6 trillion over 10 years in a 2010 commission the two had chaired. Their recommendations have been ignored to date.

* Debt reduction ideas in the Simpson-Bowles proposal include cutting Social Security and raising trillions in new tax revenue, both ideas being difficult for party members to accept.

* The national total public debt outstanding is $16.278 trillion for this year according to the Treasury Department.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and lives near Washington in Germantown, Md.

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