Mitt Romney says he wants to cut taxes and spending if he is elected president, but political analysts from at least three think tanks argue the candidate’s record as governor of Massachusetts suggests otherwise.
Center for Small Government Executive Director Carla Howell says that Romney’s boast of reigning in his state’s spending as evidence of his fiscal conservativism is blatantly false.
“The Massachusetts state statutory budget was $22.7 billion a year when he took office in January of 2003,” Howell wrote. “When he left office four years later, it was over $25.7 billion, plus another $2.2 billion in spending that the legislature took ‘off budget.’”
Romney, Howell points out, “never reminds us of this fact.” She claims in a report that the actual impact of Romney’s tenure as governor was a huge increase in state spending.
“The net effect of budgets proposed and signed into law by Mitt Romney? $5.2 billion more in state spending and a similar increase in new taxes and mandatory fees,” Howell wrote.
She says Romney’s record on job creation is, in her estimation, suspect as well.
“I asserted during our 2010 ballot initiative in Massachusetts, that for every one government job created, two private sector jobs are lost. This is primarily because the government spends twice as much for each employee, including pensions, health care, sick and vacation time and other things,” Howell said. “Regarding Romney on job creation, or job destruction, I think the biggest argument against him there is that more government spending equals a loss of private sector jobs. Romney increased spending per my ‘Mitt Romney: Champion of Big Government’ report.”
She continued, “You can also note that for every paid government employee there can be as much as one government pensioner, usually relatively young and able-bodied, collecting massive pension and health-care benefits that cost as much as many employees’ wages and benefits cost, or more.
“Romney made all this worse by increasing Massachusetts government spending,” she concludes. “His claim that he ‘cut spending’ at all, much less by two or three billion dollars, is a flat-out lie.”
Political analyst Steve Baldwin says that Romney is also misrepresenting his record by exaggerating the size of the $3-billion deficit he supposedly “cut.”
“The state budget was indeed projected to be $3 billion short,” Baldwin explains. “But as it turned out, the projection was way off. The state eventually took in about $1.3 billion more in capital gains taxes than had been expected. In addition, $500 million in unanticipated federal grants further reduced the predicted shortfall.
“Thus, the $3 billion shortage turned out to be only $1.2 billion. In other words, Romney misled people into thinking he closed a massive budget deficit, and groups such as the Club for Growth simply repeated this myth, while in reality the deficit was a little more than a third of what he claimed,” Baldwin said.
“Romney also asserted that ‘fee increases accounted for approximately 10 percent of the solution,’ but this too was false, since almost half the deficit was closed by fee and tax increases,” Baldwin said.
“The fee increases were very pervasive throughout all sectors of society,” Baldwin continued. “When Romney wanted to balance the Massachusetts budget, the blind, mentally retarded and gun owners were asked to help pay. In all, then Governor Romney proposed creating 33 new fees and increasing 57 others.”