- Posted July 12, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Should the rich pay more taxes?
In 2002 when Mitt Romney took office as governor of Massachusetts he faced a situation who's seriousness differed not that much from the one he may inherit in January of 2013. The state had a $3.1 Billion deficit. As Governor Mitt Romney promised his constituents and party that he wouldn't enact or propose a plan that raised taxes. Rather, he proposed a bold sweeping plan that would cut taxes. Part of his plan was to reduce the state income tax from 5.3 to 5 percent. Unfortunately he never succeeded. He did succeed in in eliminating corporate tax loopholes and raising new fees that totaled more than $400 million. His opponents in the Republican party accused him of raising taxes, however he insisted it was merely closing loopholes. Sound familiar to what the President has proposed? In addition to cutting spending, the revenue that Mitt Romney raised totaled $18 billion. The most interesting part of all his revenue raising was his increase in fees. Mr. Romney said it best himself when he said:
"I raised fees $260 million. There were some fees that hadn't been changed in 20 years. I didn't raise taxes,"
Call them fees or taxes, that decision I leave up to the reader. However read what these fees actually were. Most of the fees that were increased or created were on things like renewed drivers licenses, getting married, hunting, bar exams, boating and playing golf. All of these fees, minus maybe the bar exam, are on services that typically are easily accessible to those in the poor and middle class brackets. Indeed as Governor Mitt Romney increased these "fees" that very clearly adversely affected the lower classes and gave rebates to the rich on things that otherwise would have made them pay more. For an example of this look at the Capital Gains Tax rebates that Governor Romney offered.
Now it would be unfair to not address what Governor Romney did do very well, which was convince the legislature to cut $600 million in spending. To that effect his plan worked well. When Governor Romney ultimately left office in 2006/2007 to begin his exploratory presidential committee for the '08 elections the state had seen it's deficit cut from 3.1 billion to 1.5 billion. Governor Romney has both a outstanding record as Governor to run against President Obama, but also a controversial record to run against President Obama.
One of the most often used lines of attack against Governor Romney has been that of "Romneycare". Governor Romney was by many respects at the forefront of the quest for Universal Healthcare in America. He succeeded in getting it passed in Massachusetts and his signature law as Governor would later be the framework for Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. In 2002 the State of Massachusetts was given a serious threat by the federal government. They were tasked with significantly reducing the number of uninsured recipients of healthcare services or lose $385 million in Medicare funding. Romney saw healthcare as the best way he could help the people. He even touted it as his signature accomplishment and if you look closely enough at his official portrait from his time as Governor, the healthcare law is the booklet on the desk next to a picture of his wife. From here the story has been played out in a million different ways a million different times.
What is most intriguing to me, perhaps because I am a democrat, is how the Republican party used these facts from his Governorship as very good reasons not to choose him over Senator McCain in 2008. Romney was seriously torn up in the Republican debates during the 2008 election cycle over these issues as well as his faith. Just four years later these are a non issue now. The Romney camp shy's away from talking about his Governorship too extensively and the Obama campaign doesn't much focus on it either. When faced with two competing candidates for the top office in the country, perhaps the world, it is fair to suggest that we look at their previously held highest office. While thus far in 2012 the debate has been centered on Romney's time at Bain Capital over ten years ago, I believe it would be better focused on his most recent position as Governor. When then Senator Obama was just beginning to run for office his record was put under the spotlight, why then isn't Governor Romney's?