On September 24, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin came to the UMD School of Public Policy to discuss the state of the country and engage in a conversation with students in the audience about current policy issues.
“It’s my pleasure on behalf of the School of Public Policy to welcome Senator Ben Cardin,” said Senior Associate Dean Philip Joyce as he welcomed the audience to the event. “We consider the senator to be one of us. We’re delighted that you’re here to share your thoughts on issues in the nation.”
“I could talk a long time about the importance of what you’re doing at the School of Public Policy,” Cardin said. “You really are the administrators of our democratic government. We depend upon people who are interested in good policy, working not just for government, but also for the private sector.”
Cardin emphasized that the country is “in crisis,” but there is reason to look toward the future. “We’re not going to give up,” he said. “But we have to be realistic about where we are today.”
“Democratic institutions are under tremendous stress today,” he added. “Our system is somewhat unique because of the different branches of government and their separation and checks and balances. And we’ve seen a long trend of the executive branch trying to take over as much of the legislative branch’s power as possible. That’s not new. Part of it is a result of what Congress has failed to do ... President Trump is taking that to a new level.”
When discussing the state of the country, Cardin also said, “One of my greatest concerns is the issue of corruption. The report I authored in January pointed out that corruption and the fruits of corruption are critically important for Mr. Putin to be able to carry out his attacks on democratic institutions--it’s the fuel. Corruption is the fuel that will bring down democratic institutions.”
Following his initial remarks, he opened the floor for questions from policy students in the audience. During the question and answer portion of the event, Cardin delved into a wide range of policy topics, including Robert Mueller and the special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, dealings with the United Nations, the opioid crisis and cooperating with non-democratic governments.
Speaking of working with non-democratic countries, Cardin said, “We should always use diplomacy first. Military should be a matter of last resort. I’m for conversations with all the leaders of the world. I’m for the president talking to these leaders, but I disagree with the way he’s doing it.”
Cardin also said he’s a strong believer in trade and international engagement, but stated that as a country the U.S. should look to tomorrow and rethink some of our trade practices that are going on today. “I believe it’s in our economic interest to have fair trade,” he said.
When asked about his views on renewable energy, he emphasized the need to level the playing field for fossil fuels and renewables. “We’re looking to neutralize the tax code because it’s bias towards fossil fuels, to stop the drilling in areas that are sensitive and to respect the way that we deal with energy policy globally.”
He also shared his views on healthcare and the current loss of public trust in the judicial system.
“I’m a firm believer in the strength of both the republican and democratic parties,” Cardin added. “Let’s listen to each side and get things done. It’s in our national interest to have moderate policies that will stand the test of time.”
You can view photos from this event on the SPP Flickr account and watch the live recording on the SPP YouTube channel.