Thoughts On Mitt Romney

Some thoughts on Mitt Romney-
Global Warming-
In July 2003, Romney wrote then-Gov. George Elmer Pataki of New York, “Now is the time to take action toward climate protection,” Romney declared. He advocated a “regional cap-and-trade system” for New York and Massachusetts.

In 2004, Romney launched the Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan, “a coordinated statewide response to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the climate,” as his office described it.

In a press release dated Dec. 7, 2005, Romney announced that “strict state limitations on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants” would take effect Jan. 1, 2006.

“These carbon emission limits will provide real and immediate progress in the battle to improve our environment,” the communique quoted Romney. This red tape, it noted, is “designed to lower emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury from power plant smokestacks.”

Read more on Romney Record on Global Warming Shows Shifting Views

Lessons from the Fall of RomneyCare-  A Double Failure
There’s good reason for his change of position. The Massachusetts plan was supposed to accomplish two things-achieve universal health insurance coverage while controlling costs. As Romney wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced.” In reality, the plan has done neither.

Perhaps the most publicized aspect of the Massachusetts reform is its mandate that every resident have health insurance, whether provided by an employer or the government or purchased individually. “I like mandates,” Romney said during a debate in New Hampshire. “The mandate works.”  Such a mandate was, of course, a significant infringement on individual choice and liberty. As the Congressional Budget Office noted, the mandate was “unprecedented,” and represented the first time that a state has required that an individual, simply because they live in a state and for no other reason, must purchase a specific government- designated product.  It was also a failure.

When the bill was signed, Governor Romney, the media, state lawmakers, and health care reform advocates hailed the mandate as achieving universal coverage. “All Massachusetts citizens will have health insurance. It’s a goal Democrats and Republicans share, and it has been achieved by a bipartisan effort,” Romney wrote.

Before RomneyCare was enacted, estimates of the number of uninsured in Massachusetts ranged from 372,000 to 618,000. Under the new program, about 219,000 previously uninsured residents have signed up for insurance. Of these, 133,000 are receiving subsidized coverage, proving once again that people are all too happy to accept something “for free,” and let others pay the bill. That is in addition to 56,000 people who have been signed up for Medicaid. The bigger the subsidy, the faster people are signing up. Of the 133,000 people who have signed up for insurance since the plan was implemented, slightly more than half have received totally free coverage.
It’s worth noting that the Obama Administration continually points out that ObamaCare was, in a large way, modeled after RomneyCare. Romney has rightly received much criticism from economic conservatives for the obvious similarities between his plan and President Obama’s command and control plan.

It’s important to note that the subsidies in Massachusetts are extensive and reach well into the middle class-available on a sliding scale to those with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. That means subsidies would be available for those with incomes ranging from $30,480 for a single individual to as much as $130,389 for a married couple with seven children. A typical married couple with two children would qualify for a subsidy if their income were below $63,000.

When Romney was governor of Massachusetts from 2003 through 2007, he had a mixed record on taxes. During his initial 2002 campaign, Romney refused to sign an anti-tax pledge, but he pledged to balance the budget without raising taxes and touted his fulfillment of that pledge throughout his term. But the details suggest that he broke his verbal commitment. While it is true that Governor Romney did not impose any broad-based tax hikes despite pressure from liberal special interests and an inherited budget deficit, he imposed a slew of fee hikes and tax “loophole” closures, together with spending cuts, in order to eliminate the budget gap.

The largest of these was $259 million worth of fee hikes in FY 2004, the bulk of which came from higher Registry of Deeds fees. Smaller fee hikes, including higher charges for boaters and golfers, were imposed in FY 2003 and FY 2005. Romney also sought $128 million worth of so-called tax loophole closures for FY 2004; $70 million for FY 2005; and $170 million for FY 2006, which were later reduced to $85 million due to a backlash from business leaders.

In 2003, the Governor refused to endorse the Bush tax cuts, earning the praise of Massachusetts liberal congressman Barney Frank, and was even open to a federal gas tax hike. His strident opposition to the flat tax is most curious and difficult to explain since Romney wasn’t a political candidate at the time. In 1996, he ran a series of newspaper ads in Boston, New Hampshire, and Iowa denouncing the 17% flat tax proposed by then presidential candidate Steve Forbes as a “tax cut for fat cats.” In 2007, Romney continued to oppose the flat tax with harsh language, calling the tax “unfair.”

A few months before the financial crisis hit in 2008, Romney was already advocating big government solutions. He supported lowering the down payment requirement for “nonprime” borrowers, allowing the Federal Housing Administration to help them acquire a house. He also supported raising the maximum loan amount eligible for FHA insurance so that more people can be served in high-priced areas.

Months later, Romney publicly supported the Wall Street bailout, saying, “I believe that it was necessary to prevent a cascade of bank collapses.” When the auto bailout was being considered, Romney stated his opposition in a New York Times op-ed with the headline, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But this is misleading because he wasn’t 100% opposed to government intervention. He wrote, “It is not wrong to ask for government help, but the automakers should come up with a win-win proposition.”

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