This is one in a series of interviews with candidates vying in Tuesday’s primary for their party’s nomination to represent Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, now held by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick.
GAITHERSBURG – “Economy,” “jobs” and “the deficit” are words candidates say in campaign speeches to show they are in touch with the issues that matter to people, but to Democratic candidate John Delaney they’re more than just buzzwords.
He talks about “structural deficit,” “meaningful reform” and how our gross domestic product affects “business globalization” as if he’s talking about last Sunday’s football game.
As a self-styled businessman and not a politician, these words are at the heart of his career, and he wants to bring his understanding of the economy and job creation to Congress.
“I just think it’s the right match with my skills,” Delaney said. “The central issue facing this country right now is employment … and that’s what I’m an expert at.”
For almost 20 years, Delaney has led philanthropic organizations and investing and banking institutions.
In the 1990s, he was chairman and CEO of HealthCare Financial Partners Inc., which gave loans to health care service companies. In 2000, he felt Wall Street was focused on large, consumer-lending companies and was ignoring small and mid-size businesses, so he founded CapitalSource to lend to those smaller companies.
CapitalSource also operates CapitalSource Bank in California and employs 564 people, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Delaney has since founded Alliance Partners and BancAlliance, which brings small community banks together to better compete with larger banks.
He sits on the board of directors of Congressional Bank, Georgetown University and the National Symphony Orchestra Association.
Last year, Delaney founded Blueprint for Maryland which, as he describes, studies “what will happen to Maryland when the federal government starts spending less money.”
“Federal government is like the ultimate big ship, it takes a long time to turn, but I think we see pretty clearly where it’s headed. What we should be doing as a state is to be focused on all the things we need to do to be as competitive as possible to create the kind of jobs we want,” he said.
One of the most fundamental problems Delaney sees is tax policy. He wants reform that would simplify the code, eliminate the Bush tax cuts and end corporate loopholes. By decreasing spending through defense and entitlement reform, he wants to get the deficit under control.
“It’s a virtuous circle here, if you actually get the deficit situation right … you stimulate economic activity because you create more certainty around what our future looks like,” he said.
Delaney said banks and corporations have about $4 trillion in excess cash that they haven’t invested because they do not have the right incentives.
“I think if we create the proper incentives and provide some certainty, if half of that cash was actually invested, it would have an unbelievable effect on our economy and job creation,” Delaney said.
“We want incentives like the production tax credit and the manufacturer tax credit, to get that money out of corporations and out of the banks, into the system to create jobs.”
Delaney has released a platform called the 5E’s — employment, energy, education, environment and ethics — where he lays out his plan to address each of his issues in Congress.
“As a country I feel like one of the things we’re missing is a national energy policy,” he said.
He wants to encourage investments in alternative energy businesses to grow jobs. He also wants to evaluate the “true cost” of energy sources; not just the financial costs but the health and environmental costs of producing energy.
Investing in schools is also a priority. He wants the Department of Education to focus more on access to higher education — not just through college but through technical and vocational schools. He wants to focus on retaining highly qualified teachers and not rely on standardized testing to evaluate students.
Delaney is also concerned with congressional ethics. Members don’t always put the country first because they are too concerned with their own interests and careers, he said. He wants term limits, around 12 years, and a five-year ban on lobbying after serving.
“I think serving in Congress should be service, and like most service, it should be a cause. It should be something from the heart. It should be something you’re doing for the right reason,” Delaney said.
So what is his reason for running?
He sees Congress as a “next step” in community service where he can have a broader impact. He’s not completely new to politics: he has been active in fundraising for campaigns and was a Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2008. His campaign says he raised $800,000 for Clinton’s presidential election and contributed $52,000 to the Maryland Democratic Party.
But this primary race has been a tough one. He has faced a lot of criticism from his main Democratic opponent, state Sen. Rob Garagiola, D-Montgomery.
Garagiola’s campaign discovered filings with the Federal Election Commission that Delaney contributed $2,400 in 2010 to Republican Andy Harris, who beat Democratic incumbent Rep. Frank Kratovil. Delaney’s campaign manager said the donation was not based on ideology, but that he and Harris are friends.
Delaney caught more criticism when CapitalSource disclosed through SEC filings that it was being audited by the International Revenue Service. It had operated as a real estate investment trust and the IRS is determining whether it met the requirements to be an REIT. If not, CapitalSource would need to pay additional taxes that aren’t required by REITs.