Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

“With rival Rudy Giuliani also spending the weekend in the Granite State, Mitt Romney called the former New York mayor a ‘friend,’ but said he said he ‘left a bit of a problem’ in New York City by leaving a three billion dollar deficit,” writes the cerebral and remote Sareena Dalla, the New Hampshire Producer for CNN, in an article for the CNN Political Ticker titled Romney attacks Giuliani’s fiscal record

“Mayor Giuliani is a friend of mine, I think he is a good man, the former Massachusetts governor said. “And I know he did a good job as mayor of New York City, but on spending and fiscal matters, they left a bit of a problem there, because when he came in, there was a budget gap, but when he left, he left a budget gap twice as big as the one he inherited – over three billion dollars” … etc.

Note the sniveling language: “Mayor Giuliani is a friend of mine, I think he is a good man.” Recent events have taught Team Romney the painful lesson that their their candidate’s ultra-high negatives and cold, remote demeanor will not support a negative message. Their solution—strangely, unbelievably—is to couch their bitter attacks in expressions of friendship and affection, a gesture redolent of a mafiosi kiss of death.

But what about Romney’s record?

“Anti-tax advocates are scrutinizing Mitt Romney’s (R) record as governor of Massachusetts and focusing on the fact that he increased fees in the state by $500 million and proposed nearly $400 million in business tax increases,” writes Alexander Bolton in a release titled Romney’s tax record gets a closer look

This could erode whatever advantage on tax policy he hopes to have over 2008 presidential rivals such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (R).

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, published a fiscal-policy report card for 2006 that gave Romney a C grade, ranking him behind 11 other governors, including Democratic White House hopeful Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico.

Cato found that Romney increased annual state fees by $500 million as governor and proposed two corporate tax increases totaling close to $400 million a year.

When he took office, Romney faced a budget deficit of $3.2 billion, which he eliminated. He did not hike personal income or sales taxes. He is now highlighting his efforts to cut Massachusetts’s income tax rate from 5.3 percent to 5 percent and his successful shepherding of a $250 million capital gains tax refund through the Democrat-dominated state legislature.

But he increased fees for getting married, buying a house, bringing a case to court, and using a public golf course, to name a few reported examples. However, in a move that could prove controversial with social conservatives, Romney decided not to raise fees for convicted sex offenders. He vetoed a $75 fee for offenders required by law to register with the state.

“Romney’s people are trying to spin this by saying he kept his ‘No new taxes’ pledge,” said Stephen Slivinski, director of budget studies at Cato. “I guess if you consider only personal income taxes and sales taxes, he’s within bounds. If you take a broader view, he is not.

“The spirit of [anti-tax pledges] is to force governors to find more innovative ways of funding government,” he added. “If the spirit is to save money before you increase revenues, I don’t think Romney has held to the spirit of the no-new-tax pledge.”

Slivinski said he based his report on publications by Tax Analysts, a non-partisan group that tracks state and federal tax activity, and by the National Conference of State Legislatures … etc.

Also see:

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“WASHINGTON — Republican presidential hopefuls Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are tussling for the title of “strongest fiscal conservative” as they seek to portray themselves as tax-cutting, bureaucracy-slaying champions of small government,” writes Erin Kelly in a Garnett News Service release titled Romney, Giuliani tussel on taxes

…. “I think both Romney and Giuliani are singing off the same song sheet by advocating less federal spending, lower taxes and less regulation of the economy,” said Patrick Toomey, president of The Club for Growth, which endorses fiscally conservative GOP candidates. “But if you look just at the bottom line and say who accomplished more, I think you have to give the edge to Mayor Giuliani” …

On Giuliani:

As New York’s mayor for eight years, Giuliani eliminated more than a dozen taxes, held spending to less than the rate of inflation and population growth, and cut the workforce of most city departments while adding uniformed police officers and teachers.

“He was dealing with a lot deeper problems and a lot less power (than Romney),” Pitney said. “That makes his accomplishments all the more impressive.”

On Romney:

Romney, who served one four-year term as governor, tried to reduce the Massachusetts state income tax rate from 5.3% to 5% but was thwarted by the Democrat-controlled state Legislature. He vetoed more than 800 spending measures he considered excessive, but lawmakers overturned more than 700 of them. Like Giuliani, he held spending to less than the rate of inflation and eliminated many government jobs … etc.

Various responsa, reflections:

(1) Note the contrasting political behaviors born of contrasting political cultures. Giuliani governed a weary-twilight, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, post-western, world-historic megalopolis—a fabulously wealthy and desperately poor plural-municipal-entity—composed of multiple and overlapping administrative districts, and riddled with accumulated capital, vested interests, polyglot ethnic diasporas, social and class boundaries—also a major harbor-city entrepot and the northern pivot-point of the US east coast megalopolitan corridor, a global  logistical epi-center of trade, finance, and commerce. Romney governed a major north-eastern state, also plural and diverse, but he ruled it at a far more abstract level.

(2) Romney’s attempts to reduce taxes were thwarted by the MA state legislature; Giuliani, by way of contrast, reduced taxes by 17% and reduced government and regulatory burdens. Pitney claims that Romney and Giulinai opearted within different social and organizational environments: “[Giuliani] was dealing with a lot deeper problems and a lot less power.” So what may we infer from this?

(a) Lacking formal power as a mayor, Giuliani developed as a balance of power player, a political bloc builder, i.e. he tends to play existing interests off of one another to pursue his own goals. He is a master of the subtler instruments of social influence. He thrives in a crowded field. He depicts himself as a stern and capable administrator, but his habits of mind are those of an arguer, persuader, compromiser, and coalition builder. He adapts to his terrain—even a hostile terrain—and he tries to use whatever he discovers to his advantage. He is comfortable working quietly behind the scenes.

(b) Romney is comfortable with authority, the instruments of authority, and has developed himself as a binary thinker; you are either for him or against him. His positions and rhetorical lines allowed e.g. the MA legislature to unite against him, something Giuliani’s mayoral administration could never allow and continue to function. Romney famously depicts himself as (i) a data-driven empiricist, an applier of business principles to political problems, or (ii) as a principled defender of true or right positions. These are not social roles that invite or even allow compromise or middle-ground positions. How can you oppose data? (Consider any simple datum; is it (x) or is it not (x)?) Or: how can you stand against a true or a right position?

Hence: Romney’s strangely solitary ways.

Hence: Romney’s comfort with staking out extreme positions, see:

Romney outflanks himself yet again!–poll indicates Romney’s pull to the right alienates independents, centrists, and moderates

Question: which political player, Romney or Giuliani, is better adapted to operate successfully with a hostile congress or a federal-level government apparatus—the so-called permanent government—that has its own interests, constituencies, and agendas? Which figure is better adapted to guide the United States in the world-arena post-Bush?

Also see:

AP: “As governor, Mitt Romney’s efforts raised the tax bill on Bay State businesses by $300 million”

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“As governor, Mitt Romney’s efforts raised the tax bill on Bay State businesses by $300 million as he worked to eliminate a state budget deficit estimated from $2.5 billion to $3 billion,” or so reads an AP release carried by the Boston Herald titled Biz leaders say Mitt hiked taxes as gov

Now running for president, Romney says he never raised taxes, only closed loopholes. Brian Gilmore, executive vice president of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the state’s largest business lobbying group, disagrees.

“These certainly were tax increases and a new source of revenue,” Gilmore said.

“His indicating that he balanced a budget without raising taxes is misleading at best,” Gilmore said. “We respectfully disagree” …

Also see:

The Brody File: “Romney campaign won’t beat Giuliani on who cut taxes more as a public official.”

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“[Romney] takes credit for lowering premiums by as much as 50%, yet this is certainly not a statewide average. Massachusetts still has the highest per-capita health spending in the nation. The plans are deemed so unaffordable that 20% of uninsured people will not be forced to comply. Expected premiums are set as high as 8% of a person’s income — and that’s before co-pays and deductibles. And what, may I ask, is a government mandate to purchase something or pay a fine if not a tax?”—argues Sally C. Pipes, President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute, San Francisco … more

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“MANCHESTER, N.H., Sept. 6 — Mitt Romney is set to propose eliminating taxes on most investment earnings for families that make under $200,000 a year, the first in what his campaign says will be a series of announcements throughout the fall on the specifics of his tax policy,” writes the estimable Michael Luo in a NYT story titled Romney To Propose Ending Taxes on Holdings.

Romney’s proposal also appears on in a post by Matt C. titled Romney’s tax-free savings plan.

Here is our problem: we simply don’t believe Romney. His proposal is inconsistent with

(a) Romney’s record as a governor


(b) Romney’s other proposals, e.g. RomneyCare, which, as it turns out, is a spiraling fiscal disaster

Do you require evidence? Please see:

This is not the first time Romney has tried and failed to outflank his more forward-thinking rivals. Please see:

Conclusion: Romney is a plodding attritionist. The subtler arts of maneuver baffle the troubled candidate. For more on this theme, go here:

Romney the attritionist of Ames—even if he wins, he loses

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“As governor of Massachusetts, Romney supervised a commonwealth where state-funded billboards declare, ‘Have a gun, go to jail.’ As a result, the murder rate in Boston keeps climbing,” writes the estimable Vin Suprynowicz, in an article for titled VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: Seizing guns and socializing medicine — Romney’s a Republican?

The answer of Romney and his gang? Tougher victim disarmament laws, of course. In his 2002 race, Romney lauded those Draconian laws during a debate against Democrat Shannon O’Brien. “We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts; I support them,” he said. “I won’t chip away at them; I believe they protect us and provide for our safety.”

What’s his plan to protect our guys in Baghdad? Take away their rifles and issue them really big whistles?

As governor, Romney in 2004 signed his own state ban on ugly-looking semi-automatic rifles, thus violating both the Second and 14th amendments — the latter enacted to stop racist governors from enforcing so-called “black codes” that make it harder for Americans of African descent to arm themselves for self-defense, as is now the case in Massachusetts.

Despite his reputation for flip-flopping on this issue, as on others, Romney told the American Spectator this year “my position is the same as it has been, which is I support the Second Amendment, but I also support (an) assault weapon ban, that’s why I signed a bill of that nature.”

Romney, who apparently owns no firearms despite claiming earlier this year that he did, joined the NRA last year and has claimed to be a hunter, but backed off that story when asked where he has ever had a hunting license and whose gun he used to go hunting.

Romney, who oversaw a $5.2 billion (23 percent) increase in state spending during his four years, also signed into law the closest thing to state-run socialized medicine yet seen in this country … more

Please see:

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“Rudy Giuliani plans to unveil another one of his commitments tomorrow in Manchester New Hampshire,” writes the estimable and always up-to-the-moment David Brody for CBN’s The Brody File in a web log post titled Giuliani vs. Romney on Fiscal Conservatism.

It’s his plan to cut taxes and reform the tax code. One of the officials on hand will be former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci’s who cut taxes quite a bit during his time as Governor. He’s supporting Giuliani, not his fellow Republican Governor Romney. Here’s what he told me:

“The Mayor is not just talking about taxes… He has a record of doing it in New York City. I certainly respect Mitt Romney. But I supported Rudy Giuliani because he’s an extraordinary leader…The difference is that Rudy Giuliani has done it (cut taxes) and Mitt Romney has not. He was Governor for four years…Mitt has not cut any taxes as Governor of Massachusetts. He proposed raises corporate taxes.”

It makes sense that Cellucci wouldn’t back Romney on taxes. The Cato Institute, which focuses in on issues of limited government and free markets gave Celluci an “A” grade during his time as Governor. Romney received a “C”. Clearly, they have some differences and Cellucci thinks Romney could have done more in the tax cutting business …

… The Giuliani campaign is going to make tax cuts their domestic bread and butter, not just in the primary but in the general election. (If they make it that far) As Maria Comella, Giuliani’s spokeswoman told me:

“The difference between Rudy Giuliani and the other candidates – Rudy doesn’t just talk about cutting taxes, he actually did it. 23 times. Today every single one of the Democratic presidential candidates is promising a massive tax hike on the American people. The most important thing to understand about this issue that the Democrats just don’t understand – ‘YOUR MONEY. YOUR CHOICE’”

The reality is, if Giuliani becomes President, tax cuts will be a major portion of his domestic agenda. The question really is can Giuliani bundle the tax cuts, strict-constructionist judges and his commitment to increase adoption and reduce abortions into a family values package suitable for social conservatives. That’s the hope. He better pray it’s the reality too … more

Comment: We would argue that Giuliani has more of a prayer than Romney—see why Romney gets no pass [from the social conservatives of the GOP base], none at all [and Giuliani does]. Also: Giuliani’s analysis is apt and appropriate. The one issue that unites the entire Republican base—moderates, center-right third-wayers, social conservatives, cultural conservatives, Evangelicals, libertarians, pro-lifers, security firsters, neo-con Straussians or former-Trotskyites, paleo-con neo-nationalists, free traders, fair traders, Wall Street Republicans, unreconstructed nativists, second amendment supporters, southerners, SUV driving suburbanites, flag-wavers, pro-heterosexual marriage voters, first amendment absolutists, South-Park pants-down haters-of-political-correctness Republicans, post 9-11 Clash-of-Civilizations or Camp-of-the-Saints save-the-Westerners, believers in open borders etc,. etc.—is low, or at least lower, taxes, and a general sense that the scope and growth of government at all levels is out of control and unsustainable.

Romney, OTOH, in both speech and press release hews slavishly to the post-progressive, counter-conservative Bush family line, father and son, even as he simultaneously—in typical Romney equivocal fashion—attempts to distance himself from the Bush family (see here)! By Bush family line we mean enlarging and extending the federal government to pursue putatively conservative policies, policies that get articulated in the idiom of social progress, e.g. no child left behind, compassionate conservatism, the prescription drug benefit, the ill-fated immigration reform bill etc., etc. (Hence the term “post-progressive.” Does anyone remember “kinder and gentler” and a “thousand points of light?” Neither do we.) For more on these themes see:

About Romney’s alleged “competence,” please see:

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P.S. Recall: Under Romney taxes increased 10.8 percent; under Giuliani taxes were slashed 17 percent.—17%! We would vote for nearly anyone that could deliver a 17% tax cut!—anyone except Romney.

P.P.S. “With flat-tax advocate Steve Forbes sitting behind him, Republican Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani yesterday said he will propose in greater detail a “simplified tax code” this fall,” writes the estimable Garry Rayno in a story for the Union Leader titled Giuliani proposes flat tax plan in Manchester.

Drawing to a close an analysis of Romney’s healthcare plan titled Romney’s Healthcare Plan: The Policies, eye of eyeon2008 concludes:

… This sounds to me like a sleight of hand. If deregulation couldn’t cover the costs in Massachusetts, the most regulated health care market in the country, why would it work anywhere else? The fact is, to pay for the health care of the sick and the poor, you need revenue. Romney achieved that through a private sector mandate (with a serious solution, which I do not think that I disagree with, in the end). The other option is tax revenue … more

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P.S. Please also see:

Pipes: RomneyCare a spiraling fiscal disaster; does not deliver universal coverage or meaningful structure of cost controls

[Update: has released its take on RomneyCare titled: “‘RomneyCare’ Finds Broad Support, Nationwide Attention.”]

It’s one thing for politicians to promise that their mandates [Romney’s RomneyCare] will decrease costs, it’s quite another when it comes to implementing the plan, writes the estimable Sally Pipes in a article titled Lessons from Massachusetts, and painful lessons they are.

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More from the estimable Pipes:

… In Massachusetts, the initial costs came in higher than expected. Faced with this reality, the bureaucrats in charge of the implementation at the Commonwealth Connector Board decided that universal coverage didn’t need to be universal after all, and it promptly exempted 20 percent or one in five uninsured from having to comply with the mandate.

The Connector Board also bowed to political pressure and agreed to reduce the premiums, a move that boosted program costs by $13 million. Some plans are totally free–and have therefore been popular. Other subsidized plans for people earning between 150 and 300 percent of the poverty line will cost people as much as 9 percent of income for just the premium. Not surprisingly, these plans have proven less popular. Of the 79,800 people who’ve enrolled in the health plans as of June 1 of this year, 59,816 signed up for the totally free plans.

This structure will produce a fiscal disaster. Considering the high premiums for those who have to pay, many will opt to remain uninsured. The fine of $216 will be more attractive than the premium. Politicians will face strong pressure not to enforce the mandate if the fines increase. Indeed, before the program started they exempted 20 percent of the target population.

At the same time, the premium subsidy makes the plans a bargain for individuals who expect to consume large quantities of health care. The insured will be older and less healthy than the average citizen. Spending will skyrocket. The taxpayer will be forced to pay or services will be rationed.

So far, this downward spiral appears to be well underway. The average age for those enrolled in the free plans is far younger than that of the plans for which a contribution is required. Not surprisingly, usage is higher for the paid plans as well.

And the doctors, they may like the plan in the short run as they will receive higher reimbursement rates for seeing Medicaid patients but in the long run, the picture is not as bright. As costs rise, they will be faced with payments being limited, rationed care, more bureaucracy, and less freedom on how they want to practice medicine.

Massachusetts may be able to limp its plan along for a few years with a combination of tax increases on employers, restrictions on enrollees, and price cuts to providers. It will not, however, achieve universal health insurance or a meaningful structure for cost control. Its most likely legacy will be to have created another government health bureaucracy, ratcheted up taxpayer health spending, and bolstered calls for a complete government takeover of health caremore

Full disclosure: Pipes is a Giuliani adviser. We have no brief for the former mayor of NYC. But we do admire his adviser on healthcare issues.

Also see:

Romney’s disastrous stewardship of the Massachusetts economy draws scorn, condemnation

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P.S. Update:, in a post titled Romney’s Healthcare Plan: The Politics, addresses the sleight-of-hand of the Romney plan and reasons that—if we read eye’s analysis correctly—that Romney’s larger intention is to compete head-to-head on the healthcare issue with Obama or Hillary in the general election. The problem for Romney: surviving the primaries when the conservative base gets to have its say in the matter. Hence: all the deception.

So what does this say about Romney’s attitude toward conservatives?

We are a problem that Romney needs to solve in the short term.

In the longer term, we are disposable. Romney’s primary loyalties lie elsewhere.

See, e.g.:

In an article aptly titled Mitt’s Mythical Mass. Miracle, an article that originally appeared in Human Events on August 17th, 2007, but was reproduced on, Deroy Murdoch begins his account:

With his confident style and crowd-pleasing smile, Ames, Iowa straw-poll winner Willard Mitt Romney looks like a formidable contender for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. If he’s lucky, he can leave voters so dazzled that they ignore his record.

Murdoch’s question: will Romney be so lucky?

Rather than see stars, Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Boston’s Northeastern University placed Romney’s rule beneath their statistical microscope. Let’s hope what they discovered is not contagious.

“Our analysis reveals a weak comparative economic performance of the state over the Romney years, one of the worst in the country,” the researchers wrote in the July 29 Boston Globe. Specifically, they found” … more

Just so. Please see:

Romney’s disastrous stewardship of the Massachusetts economy draws scorn, condemnation

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