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“I Love Vetoes”: Mitt Romney’s False Claims Of Bipartisanship In Massachusetts

In Tuesday night’s presidential debate at Hofstra University on Long Island, Mitt Romney said, “We haven’t had the leadership in Washington to work on a bipartisan basis. I was able to do that in my state.” This repeats a claim he made repeatedly in the first debate that he worked successfully in with the Democratic state legislature in Massachusetts. “Republicans and Democrats both love America,” said Romney. “But we need to have leadership—leadership in Washington that will actually bring people together and get the job done and could not care less if—if it’s a Republican or a Democrat. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again.”

Romney also argues that an ability to work across the aisle is essential for any president, and that it is a quality he has and Obama lacks. At the first debate, Romney said, regarding a deficit reduction deal, “I think something this big, this important has to be done on a bipartisan basis. And we have to have a president who can reach across the aisle and fashion important legislation with the input from both parties.”

Romney’s surrogates have even gone so far as to offer his bipartisanship approach as the reason he will not specify what tax expenditures he will eliminate to offset the cost of his tax cuts, arguing that he should work with Congress to identify them, rather than dictating his own preferences.

During the primaries, when Romney claimed to have been “a severely conservative governor,” he never boasted of working with Democrats.

In truth, his approach in Massachusetts was neither severely conservative nor bipartisan. Democrats in the legislature held a veto-proof super-majority. That meant Romney had no choice but to play ball with them or else he would get nothing done. Sometimes he opted for the former, as in the case of healthcare reform. Often, he opted for the latter.

Looking at Romney’s record in Massachusetts one does not see bipartisanship as an operating principle. Rather than it is a tool he uses when it is convenient. Romney was not particularly good at cultivating relationships with the Democratic legislature. Former Massachusetts House Speaker Tom Finneran told the Associated Press, “Initially [Romney’s] sense was, ‘I have been elected governor, I am the CEO here and you guys are the board of directors and you monitor the implementation of what I say.’ That ruffled the feathers of legislators who see themselves as an equal branch (of government).”

Romney’s approach to the legislature remained mostly hostile, rather than conciliatory. As NPR reports:

Romney clearly did not relish having to work with a Legislature that was 85 percent Democratic. He pushed hard during his first two years as governor to boost the number of Republicans on Beacon Hill. But that effort was a failure; Republicans ended up losing seats in the midterm elections…. Apart from health care, Romney defined success not with big-picture legislative accomplishments but with confrontation. In a 2008 campaign ad, Romney actually bragged about taking on his Legislature: “I like vetoes; I vetoed hundreds of spending appropriations as governor,” he said.
Romney issued some 800 vetoes, and the Legislature overrode nearly all of them, sometimes unanimously.

In 2005 and 2006, after Romney decided not to run for re-election but instead to seek the Republican presidential nomination, he abandoned much of his erstwhile moderation. Massachusetts pulled out the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, abandoned his smart growth policies, and reversed his prior support for abortion rights and stem cell research. Refusing to make investments in stem cell research and renewable energy—two important sectors of Massachusetts’s economy—contributed to his abysmal record on job creation.

It is also hard to reach across the aisle when you aren’t even in town. Towards the end of Romney’s tenure, he was out of the state more than he was in it. In 2006, Romney’s last year in office, he was traveling out of state for all or part more than 200 days. During his total four years he was out of the state more than 400 days. While on the road, speaking to Republican audiences, he would frequently mock Massachusetts for its liberal politics. By the time he left office, his approval ratings back home were 34 percent.

If anything, Romney’s approach in the White House would be even more partisan and polarizing. In Massachusetts, Romney was not only governing with Democratic legislature but with a liberal electorate. What he did under those circumstances could be quite different from what he would do with a Republican Congress and a national Republican constituency.

 

By: Ben Adler, The Nation, October 17, 2012

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sen Orrin Hatch’s Desire To Raise Middle-Class Taxes

I think the pressure is starting to get to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). He saw what happened to his former colleague, Bob Bennett, in a GOP primary in 2010, and Hatch is starting to panic that he’ll meet the same fate.

But when the heat is on, some rise to the occasion, showing poise and grace. Some, like Hatch, just fall apart.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) voted against beginning debate on a measure that would have the Senate declare the rich should share the pain of debt reduction Thursday, a day after arguing that it’s the poor and middle class who need to do more.

“I hear how they’re so caring for the poor and so forth,” Hatch said in remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, in reference to Democrats. “The poor need jobs! And they also need to share some of the responsibility.”

Hatch went on to say he finds it outrageous that so many millions of Americans don’t pay income taxes, adding, “And that’s going up by the way because of our friend down in the White House and his allies.”

Just so we’re clear, Hatch is incensed because President Obama and his allies aren’t taxing the middle class enough.

This comes up from time to time, and I continue to find it fascinating. Specifically, when conservatives complain about too many Americans not paying federal income taxes, they tend to overlook relevant details — such as the fact that these same Americans still pay sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare/Medicaid taxes, and in many instances, property taxes.

It’s not as if these folks are getting away with something — the existing tax structure leaves them out of the income tax system because they don’t make enough money to qualify.

Moreover, the GOP has a natural revulsion to any tax system, but there’s an eerie comfort with a regressive agenda that showers additional wealth on the rich while asking for more from lower-income workers.

While we’re at it, let’s also not forget that Hatch is the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, and would be in a position to serve as chairman if he wins reelection and Republicans take the Senate next year. At that point, he could use his power to punish working people more directly.

Hatch has always been a conservative Republican, but he’d developed a reputation over the years for idiosyncratic positions. Despite being firmly on the right — at least as “the right” was defined in, say, the ’90s — Hatch supported stem-cell research, co-sponsored the DREAM Act, and partnered with Ted Kennedy to pass the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, bringing health coverage to low-income kids. Centrist Democrats hoping to craft a major bipartisan deal would immediately reach out to Hatch.

Needless to say, those days are over.

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly-Political Animal, July 9, 2011

July 10, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Corporations, Debt Ceiling, Deficits, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Middle Class, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Unemployed, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America Is Suffering The Effects Of Short-Sighted GOP Policies

I spent much of last week in a hospital in Cincinnati with my dad. He has Parkinson’s disease, which sucks. He’s home now, with my mom, brother, and sister doing all they can to care for him.  And it hit home for me that we are living not only with the consequences of a horrible disease, but also with the consequences of decisions made in Washington over the last 10 years.

Where would we be with Parkinson’s treatment if George Bush hadn’t banned federal funding of embryonic stem cell research for eight precious years? A hell of a lot further along than we are.

Would my parents, a retired educator and a small businesswoman, be struggling to pay tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket prescription drug costs if back in the ’90s Republicans had allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices? Nope.

Would their retirement savings and those of millions of others have been hit so hard by the economic collapse if there had been meaningful regulation of Wall Street? No.

You really don’t need a crystal ball to see the future. Usually a rear view mirror will do just fine. We know what shortsighted Republican policies have done to this country. The Bush years are America’s own lost decade. For my parents, these losses are profound and personal, as they are for millions of others.

Now Republicans seem determined to make this yet another decade when America treads water or risks sinking further.

Right now, Republicans are blocking any meaningful effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and stop climate change in order to protect big oil and some big business.

Right now, while middle class families struggle mightily, Republicans are all about the mighty–going to the mat to preserve tax breaks for the wealthy and loopholes that let corporations pay literally zero taxes.

Right now, budget cuts are being demanded that will provide fewer children with Head Start, cut college loans, and gut Social Security and Medicare.

And right now, somewhere in America, a husband, a father, a mother, a wife is being told they have Parkinson’s. President Obama lifted the Bush ban soon after taking office, but we’ll never get those eight years back. For many of those suffering with Parkinson’s and other diseases that stem cell research could help, the stroke of George Bush’s pen signed away a measure of hope.

Past is precedent. We know our dependence on oil is killing us, so let’s start doing what we must now to end it. We know what happens in the future when kids get shut out of Head Start now, so let’s not do it. We know tax breaks for large corporations and the wealthy won’t strengthen the economy (we’ve tried that), so let’s repeal them. We know Social Security and Medicare will continue to be lifelines for millions, so let’s not cut them.  

The hard-won historic change of the last two years has only just begun to undo the damage of the preceding eight. There is no turning back.   We haven’t got a decade to lose. Because we know the wrong policies have real casualties.

My dad is one of them.

By: Greg Pinelo, U.S. News and World Report, March 31, 2011

April 2, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Corporations, Economy, Health Care, Medicare, Middle Class, Pharmaceutical Companies, Politics, Republicans, Social Security, Wall Street | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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