“[He’s] conservative enough [and] I suspect he will accept a solid, conservative platform..." - Newt Gingrich 4/8/2012
If, as the self-identified “true conservatives” claim, Mitt Romney is indeed a progressive liberal, in the same mold as Obama, then some explanations are in order. With Democratic super-majorities in both houses of the Massachusetts legislature (and a handful of liberal Republicans), how did Romney and the solidly leftwing legislature manage to disagree on so many issues?
- Romney issued more than 800 line-item vetoes on budget issues. The legislature issued overrides on over 700 of them.
- Massachusetts was looking at a $3 billion deficit when Romney became governor. Romney closed the gap largely by cutting spending by hundreds of millions, closing tax loopholes and increasing fees for government services. After one year in office, the state began seeing significant surpluses and Romney used those surpluses to push for a reduction in the state income tax rate.
- The legislature used the fiscal improvements to increase spending and turned to the surplus to cover the increased spending. Romney vetoed this effort and the veto was overridden.
- Romney opposed (and vetoed) a bill seeking to increase the state’s minimum wage from $6.75 to $8.00 an hour. His veto was overridden.
- In 2004, Romney vetoed a college tuition bill targeting illegal aliens.
- In 2006, Romney signed onto an ICE program to train state troopers to identify and arrest suspected illegal immigrants (his successor, Patrick Deval, killed the program in Massachusetts).
- While campaigning as a pro-choice candidate in 2002, by 2005 Romney had changed his mind and cited when the revelation hit him that he was pro-choice. During a discussion with a stem cell researcher, Romney got a glimpse into the mindset that does not see the taking of a life as a moral issue. While he promised to remain neutral on the abortion issue (in a state where there was zero chance of enacting pro-life laws) and would not advocate against the state’s policies nor support expansion of the policies, he from that point on considered himself pro-life.
- In July of 2005 Romney left a vacation to return to Boston to intervene in the signing of a law that the LT. Governor supported. His veto was overridden by most of the legislature.
- Romney introduced merit bonuses for performing teachers and opposes bilingual education.
- Romney allowed public schools the option to teach abstinence only education per federal programs.
- Under Romney, per capita funding for public higher education was reduced.
- Romney vetoed a retroactive pay raise for public school employees.
- Romney denounced (and refused to provide state services and security for) former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami after being invited to speak at Harvard.
- Romney, simply put, has been an ardent supporter of traditional marriage and has actively fought to protect the institution, including backing a marriage amendment, refusing to recognize out of state same sex couples seeking marriage in Massachusetts and advocating the intent of civil marriage: the creation of and rearing of children by a mother and father.
- Romney vetoed funding for hate crimes legislation.
- Romney sought to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts (the bill was rejected).
- Romney turned up the heat on repeat drunk drivers and fought with the legislature over details that he felt were designed solely to benefit trial lawyers. Repeat drunk driving arrests were cut in half.
- Romney rejected every single request presented to him as governor for pardons and commutations (almost 300 total).
- Romney worked to increase funding for Massachusetts National Guard members. At one time, while the legislature was out of session, Romney transferred money from his own office budget to cover a shortfall in insurance benefits for active duty members and their families.
There are very few governors who are 100% consistent on having a conservative record and this includes Mitt Romney. But Romney, in a partisan leftwing government of a leftwing state, held his own pretty well. While some of his failures are because he did not adhere to a conservative position, most are because he tried and was overruled by the huge majorities who ideologically opposed him.
My question at this point would be: if there are no differences between Obama and Romney, then what positions and vetoes of Romney’s would Obama have supported? What would Obama have done similarly were he the governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007?
If Romney is as liberal as the agents of the hard right insist, then why did he have 844 legislative vetoes in four years and why were over 700 of them overridden by leftwing Democrats and liberal Republicans?
The answer: Romney is as conservative as we could ever hope for in an electable presidential candidate. Or, as President Obama's campaign now refers to him: "severly conservative".
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*This account will be followed up by another that focuses on the two more controversial issues that plague Romney amongst the so-called ‘real conservatives’: health care and the environment.