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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Romney Myth

After almost a week of cloying copy that amounted to wasting newsprint that might have ben better used in training a puppy, The Globe has captured the political essence of Mitt Romney. There is a good reason he's known in these parts as Fraudo.

While the animal cruelty story will (rightly) get increasing national attention, the Romney "record" in Massachusetts is now in one easy place for all to see. Some highlights:
  • Romney was state shopping because ''he wants a position with enough national exposure to launch a presidential campaign;''
  • He set up a campaign operation and hired staff, all the while telling anyone who would listen that he would not challenge incumbent Jane Swift;
  • The devoted family man cut off his wife as she was declaring her "qualms" about what a return to Massachusetts after three years in Utah would do to her multiple sclerosis;
  • He filed taxes in and claimed his "primary residence" in Utah, then amended that claim when he decided to run in Massachusetts resident.
And that was BEFORE he was elected to office on the promise to clean up waste, fraud and mismanagement.

The Romney years -- with the penchant for overstatement -- are well laid out in the Brian Mooney, replete with how Romney overstated the size of both the state's fiscal problems and its eventual turnaround.
Romney and the Legislature did approve an austere budget to deal with nearly all of a projected shortfall, which never fully materialized because tax collections came in more than $1.2 billion above preliminary estimates. The spending plan also raised at least $331 million through increased fees for permits, licenses, and services - about a 45-percent jump - and $128 million in tax code tweakings to close ''loopholes'' affecting businesses. Another $181 million in ''loophole'' closings - businesses called them tax increases - followed in the next two years.
Romney has asserted that the fee increases totaled only $260 million in fiscal 2004 but that ignores at least $71 million in new fees implemented shortly after he took office.
At the same time, Romney presided over changes that boosted municipal reliance on property taxes from 49 percent of their budgets to 53 percent, prompting local cuts and higher fees in a cycle that continues today. And he also"over" raised" the gasoline tax -- and overstated the surplus generated in FY 2005.

And all the while he laid the foundation of a projected $1 billion shortfall that Deval Patrick found when he took the oath of office.

A few other choice morsels:
  • "As a candidate for governor, Romney vowed to slash the state bureaucracy and now, on the presidential campaign trail, frequently says: 'One commentator said that I didn't just go after the sacred cows, I went after the whole herd.' After four years, he reduced the payroll of agencies under his direct control by 603 jobs, to 43,979, according to his administration's tally. By contrast, one of his predecessors, Weld, closed state hospitals, privatized services, and slashed about 7,700 jobs in his first term."
  • "Romney gave jobs to many of his own campaign workers, but was aggressive in ousting longtime operatives of his own Republican party, including David Balfour, head of the Metropolitan District Commission, a patronage haven that Romney would fold into another state agency."
  • "In his final months as governor, Romney filled more than 200 slots on boards and commissions with party loyalists, state employees, and others. Fehrnstrom, his communications director, was named to the part-time board of the Brookline Housing Authority. After the Globe pointed out the appointment would help Fehrnstrom qualify for a large state pension, he resigned from the board, protesting 'unwarranted political attacks' on Romney."
It's safe to assume his ditching the job after losing badly in his effort to remake the Legislature will be an integral part of the final installment.

For now, we'll simply content ourselves to note that he did to Massachusetts what his dog did to the car roof.

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