Gov. Larry Hogan loves a good press conference. There is nothing that this Republican administration does quite as well as trumpet his support for the latest poll-tested political trend. Hogan’s complete willingness to go along with Trump’s efforts at the federal level, even when they contradict his supposed issue positions, illustrates the triumph of optics over substance.
Hogan has decided to tackle the State’s opioid crisis. He wants limits on prescriptions and stronger penalties for dealers. But when Trump and Ryan proposed a health care overall that would have eliminated treatment for opioid addiction covered under the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, Hogan said nothing.
Hogan claims he was always opposed to fracking, even though he was for it right up until he was against it. After rattling on at length at a press conference about the importance of Maryland’s natural environment, he said nothing in response to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement that Trump would repeal the Clean Power Plan.
Hogan proposed a sick leave bill that would cover few people while giving the impression that he cared about the issue. After holding a press conference touting for the bill, he has had virtually no interaction with the legislature on the issue beyond threatening to veto the more substantive Democratic version of the bill. This puts him right in league with his silent partner, Trump, who has promised to expand sick leave but so far done nothing.
If it’s any comfort, Hogan is just as willing to not stand up to Trump on conservative priorities either. While he was happy to trot off to Asia on a trade mission–what Republicans called a “junket” when Gov. Martin O’Malley did the same thing–he has said nothing about the proposed Trump-Ryan “border adjustment tax,” more commonly known as a tariff. Conservatives normally criticize such policies as raising prices on ordinary Americans, bad for business, and dumb economic policy. Not Silent Larry.