THE ROMNEY RECORD
By James Turnage-
The Republican candidate for president in 2012 says he “has a plan for the economy of our country.” No one knows what that is, but if you want to know where the man stands, here is his record, much of which he has flip-flopped about as of today.
The beginning of his most aggressive business venture was Bain & Company. He joined the firm in 1977. He later became its chief executive officer. In 1984 he cofounded the spinoff company Bain Capital a private equity investment firm. His financial gains from this venture gave him a worth of between 190 million and 250 million which he used to help fund his campaigns prior to 2012.
Bain’s specialty was leveraged buyouts, purchasing company’s assets with large loans from banks and using that collateral to sell them off in a few years for large profits. Their theory was that shareholder’s value should be maximized and other benefits such as job creation minimized. Bain Capital’s overall success to failure ratio was about even.
Bain’s acquisitions often led to layoffs during the buyout or shortly after they were sold. Two companies, Ampad and Dade Behring eventually declared bankruptcy and forced layoffs. Dade Behring alone released over 1000 employees.
In 1994 Romney decided to challenge Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy for his seat. He left Bain Capital and declared his candidacy. Formerly declaring himself an independent, in 1993 he joined the Republican Party, sensing a weakness in the Massachusetts election created by the William Kennedy Smith trial in Florida.
Romney proved himself the better fund raiser and soundly defeated his opponents in the Republican primary.
In the general senatorial election he claimed to have created 10,000 jobs, though there were no records to substantiate the claim. When Kennedy attempted to link him to the policies of Bush and Reagan, he claimed that he was an independent during their administration. He said, “Ultimately, this is a campaign about change”.
Romney attacked Kennedy as soft on crime. In mid-1994, the polls showed the candidates virtually even. Kennedy focused on Romney’s changing positions on issues such as abortions, and the Ampad layoffs created by Bain Capital. Despite a disastrous showing by Democrats, Kennedy won the election 58 to 41 percent.
In 1999, Romney took a leave from Bain to take over the position of President and CEO of the Olympic Games 2002 Salt Lake City Organizing Committee. The games were already 379 million dollars in debt. There were thoughts about downsizing the games or moving them altogether.
Romney revamped the organization’s leadership and policies, reduced budgets and raised fundraising. He added a 300 million dollar budget for security following the 9/11 attacks. His lobbying efforts received assistance from the federal government of between 400 and 600 million dollars. The overall support of the federal government for the 2002 Olympics surpassed 1.5 billion dollars, the largest amount the country had ever spent on the Games.
Plagued with many problems, the acting Republican governor of Massachusetts, Jane Swift, lost her party’s support. The party viewed her as a liability, and prominent members of the party wanted Romney to run for her seat.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party challenged Romney’s eligibility requiring seven years continuous residence, and that he had filed state tax returns in Utah for years 1999 and 2000. A bipartisan State Ballot Law Commission decided he had demonstrated sufficient financial and residential requirements to validate his candidacy.
Romney initially suffered in the polls because of his image as a corporate leader who was out of touch with the working class. He instituted a campaign ploy he called “work days” where he performed common labor for one day. It failed to help him in the polls. He rebounded with attacks against his opponent, state treasurer Shannon O’Brien, accusing her of a lack of vigilance regarding the state pension funds invested in the stock market, and her husband’s association with the Enron scandal. He won the election 50 to 45 percent.
He became the 70th governor of Massachusetts on January 2, 2003. He faced a 650 million dollar shortfall, and a forecast of 3 billion for the coming year. Unexpected revenue from a federally imposed increase of the capital gains tax returned 1.0 to 1.3 billion dollars to the state economy. There was also an unanticipated increase in federal grants of 500 million dollars. This decreased the deficit to 1.2 to 1.5 billion dollars. Through a series of spending cuts, increase in fees, (taxes), and the removal of corporate tax loopholes, the state ran surpluses of 600 to 700 million dollars for his last two years in office, although deficits returned immediately upon his departure.
His increased fees were on driver’s licenses, marriage licenses, and gun licenses. He also reduced aid to cities and towns. He cut 140 million dollars in state aid for higher education, forcing state colleges to raise tuitions by 63 percent over four years. His reduction in aid to localities forced cities and townships to reduce services for their communities or raise property taxes to support them. Property taxes rose from 49 to 53 percent.
Realizing that although many state residents did not have health care, but still received services costing the state millions of dollars, Romney decided on a plan of universal health care.
In 2004 his advisors and those of the legislature came up with a plan requiring a ‘universal mandate’. Bolstered by Ted Kennedy’s approval, insuring a positive response from the largely Democratic house and senate, Romney signed into law the Massachusetts health reform law on April 12, 2006. The law required virtually all state residents to purchase health insurance or suffer taxable consequences.
Romney initially was against same sex marriage and civil unions by same sex couples. But in May 2004 he instructed clerks to start issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples with the exception of out of state applicants whose states disallowed the union. In June 2005, Romney abandoned his support for marriage and civil unions, and asked congress to support the Federal Marriage Amendment which forbade both.
He also changed positions from being adamantly opposed to abortion, to a position of allowing it under certain circumstances, and then back again.
His political tactic was to take his message directly to the public instead of working with members from both sides of the aisle to accomplish his goals. This is a process called using a ‘bully pulpit’.
In 2008 he ran for the presidency. He once again cast himself as a political outsider. Huckabee and McCain called him a ‘flip-flopper’ creating distrust within the party. He spent 110 million dollars of his own money in a failed attempt to win the party’s nomination. Based on that experience he obviously decided in 2011 that if he was to win an election, he would have to position himself along party lines.
This is the Mitt Romney who wants to be our Nation’s leader. If you can even take a wild guess what he would do based on his past record you are a much better prognosticator than I am.
I see no evidence of job creation or sustained growth anywhere in his record other than an increase in his personal wealth with Bain Capital.
That’s the great thing about our country. We all get to vote according to what we believe. Believe what you see on television, or believe the facts. Vote intelligently or emotionally. You will choose your future. Be afraid, be very afraid.