It’s true that both Huckabee and Romney oppose abortion--now. But Huckabee was pro-life while he was governor. Romney, not so much. Don’t take our word for it. Here’s Romney at a September debate in Iowa: “I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice. I’ve said that time and time again. I’ve changed my position.“
We don’t begrudge Romney the right to change his mind, and he’s been open about the fact that his position has changed. But many Iowa voters may still be unaware of that, and this ad implies that there’s no difference between these two candidates on abortion. That’s a stretch.
ANNOUNCER: Two former governors. Two good family men. Both pro-life. Both support a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage. The difference?
Mitt Romney stood up, and vetoed in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Opposed driver’s licenses for illegals.
Mike Huckabee? Supported in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants. Huckabee even supported taxpayer-funded scholarships for illegal aliens.
On immigration, the choice matters.
In 2004, the Boston Globe reported that Romney was reluctant to veto the tuition proposal--and not at all the certain, sure-footed decision maker portrayed in the ad. At the time, Romney said, “I hate the idea of in any way making it more difficult for kids, even those who are illegal aliens, to afford college in our state.”
Romney wasn’t a hardliner on immigration until late in his tenure as governor. None of the specifics presented here are false, but the ad presents a black-and-white contrast that doesn’t exist in reality.
Students in several nations were tested in 2006. In science, the US ranked 29th out of 57 (49th %ile). And in math, the US ranked 35th out of 57 (39th %ile). In 2003 US students again landed near the middle, scoring 15th out of 29 (48th %ile).
A Romney campaign aide said the candidate was referring to a much earlier study in which the US finished 19th out of 21 nations in math and 16th out of 21 nations in science. But that study, the Third International Math & Science Study (TIMSS) is from 1998
It’s tru that Massachusetts school children scored first in the nation in the most recent NAEP tests, scoring a clean sweep among both 4th-graders and 8th-graders in math & reading. But MA also had ranked at or near the top before Romney took office, so he’s straining the facts to attribute the success entirely to “Republican principles” and his leadership.
Arkansas consistently scored below the national average before Huckabee came along, and on most tests it still does. But on all four NAEP tests, AR’s scores moved closer to the average during Huckabee’s time in office. Coming from below average to not-so-much-below average is significant. Whether that constitutes the “most impressive” record among GOP candidates, we’ll leave others to judge.
Massachusetts may not call its rules for employers a “mandate,” but the state health care plan includes several “obligations” or “requirements,” as the state dubs them, for employers, along with fees for noncompliance. The requirements for employers are much narrower than those for individuals, who indeed, according to the state, face a “mandate” to get health insurance.
But is a “requirement” a “mandate”? You be the judge: Employers with more than 10 full-time employees must pay at least 33% of employee premium costs or have a group health plan. Those that fail to do so must pay a fee of $295 per full-time employee per year.
Individuals in the state must have health insurance. If not, they’ll lose their personal exemption on state income taxes in 2007--a penalty of $219.
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimated that the state would need an extra $200 million each year for 2007 to 2009 to finance the health care plan, because more people enrolled in subsidized care than anticipated. That shortfall, however, is a projection, and a Boston Globe article on the budget gap said some money could be shifted from the free care fund, if there is money in that fund to do so. Additional dollars came from a Medicaid waiver granted by the federal government, which is set to expire in 2009. The Massachusetts government is negotiating with federal officials to renew that waiver.
The fact is, as reported by the Boston Globe in 2006, several illegals worked at Romney’s home in Belmont MA, off and on over a period of eight years, sometimes working 11-hour days. They were, however, employed by a contractor, and not directly by Romney. So, Giuliani was technically correct to say that “illegal immigrants were being employed,” since he used the passive voice and didn’t specify who did the employing. Romney could also argue that he was technically correct to say “I did not” have illegals working, since he didn’t employ them directly.
ROMNEY: We all know Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have it wrong on illegal immigration. Our party should not make that mistake.
As Governor, I authorized the State Police to enforce immigration laws. I opposed driver’s licenses & in-state tuition for illegal aliens.
As president, I’ll oppose amnesty, cut funding for sanctuary cities and secure our borders.
Legal immigration is great, but illegal immigration--that’s got to stop
Romney began talking about giving troopers the power to make arrests on immigration charges earlier in 2006, but he didn’t sign an agreement with the federal government--a necessary condition for that authority to be granted-- until Dec. 13, 2006. Romney was scheduled to leave office Jan. 4, 2007. Democrat Deval Patrick, who had won the race to succeed Romney, had already said the program was a “bad idea” because troopers were busy enough as it was.
Sure enough, Patrick rescinded the agreement within his first week in office so troopers could “focus on enforcing MA laws.” The policy never had a chance to take effect, because those troopers chosen to carry it out hadn’t yet begun a required 6-week training course
During his tenure, at least f Orleans didn’t officially deem themselves “sanctuaries,” but Somerville affirmed its “long-standing policies in support of all immigrants,” while Orleans forbade city officials from turning in illegal immigrants without probable cause.
We asked Romney’s campaign if he had acted against these cities, but they didn’t provide us with any examples. As far as we were able to determine in our own research, Romney made no attempts to penalize, censure, or cut funding to them.
It’s also unclear how many of the previously uninsured have gained coverage under the Massachusetts plan. While the program has successfully enrolled 200,000 people, some of those may have switched from less desirable policies. A more apples-to-apples measure found that 395,000 people didn’t have insurance in the state in 2006, then a 10% decrease in the uninsured through July 2007.
Romney has tried this bit before. In fact, we’ve called him on it once already: that in inflation-adjusted dollars, defense spending dropped nearly 15% between Reagan’s last budget and the final budget of George H.W. Bush four years later--compared with just under 13% between Bush’s last budget and Clinton’s, a span of eight years. Bush’s defense secretary, a guy named Dick Cheney, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1992 that “overall, since I’ve been secretary, we will have taken the five-year defense program down by well over $300 billion. That’s the peace dividend. And now we’re adding to that another $50 billion.”
Giuliani did challenge President Bill Clinton on the line-item veto after he used it to cut a provision that could have helped NYC’s bottom line. It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998. Romney is also correct to say that he exercised his state-level line-item veto power 844 times. But Romney doesn’t note that more than 700 of those vetoes were overridden by the overwhelmingly Democratic-controlled Legislature.
That miraculous sounding statistic is way off. It has taken since the end of 1978 for total employment in the US to grow by 50 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But total employment for the 15 core members of the European Union (those who joined before 2004) grew by well over 33 million between 1978 and 2005.
Romney was misquoting an outdated and highly dubious figure, which was used by an author who no longer stands behind it. Romney cited a 2005 article in The American Enterprise magazine, which said, “Since the 1970s America has created some 57 million new jobs, compared to just 4 million in Europe (with most of those in government).” The article’s author told FactCheck.org he wouldn’t use the figure today.
ROMNEY: If I’m elected president, I’m going to cap non-defense discretionary spending at inflation minus 1%. That would save $300 billion in 10 years. And if Congress sends me a budget that exceeds that cap, I will veto that budget. And I know how to veto. I like vetoes. I’ve vetoed hundreds of spending appropriations as governor. And frankly, I can’t wait to get my hands on Washington!
The overrides total 707 of the more than 800 line-item vetoes that Romney issued. So while Romney did indeed veto “hundreds of spending appropriations,” as he says in the ad, he had little to show for them.
In the ad, Romney concludes, “Frankly, I can’t wait to get my hands on Washington!” If elected, however, he will find that his old job gave him more tools than the presidency. In Massachusetts, the governor can eliminate or reduce on specific line-item provisions in the budget. The so-called line-item veto allows a governor to turn down a single, particular spending measure rather than having to veto an entire bill. This is the power Romney used in his hundreds of budgetary vetoes. The president, however, does not have this authority.
ANNOUNCER: In the most liberal state in the country one Republican stood up and cut spending instead of raising taxes; he enforced immigration laws, stood up for traditional marriage and the sanctity of human life.
ROMNEY: This isn’t the time for us to shrink from conservative principles. It’s a time for us to stand in strength. Strong military, strong economy, strong families.
ANNOUNCER: In the toughest place, Mitt Romney’s done the toughest things
True, Massachusetts has Democratic Sens. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, and in 2004 it became the first state in the nation to legalize gay marriage. In the 1972 presidential election, it was the only state (plus DC) won by Democratic nominee George McGovern.
But consider Vermont, the home of Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described “independent democratic socialist,” and of Howard Dean, former governor. Social activist ice cream czars Ben & Jerry also are based there.
Then there’s Rhode Island, which cast a greater share of its votes--61%--for Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore in 2000 than any other state. And some might well grant the distinction to New Jersey, which has a higher personal income tax than Massachusetts, as well as two Democratic senators.
There are two problems with Romney’s characterization: One, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is the only Democratic candidate to propose a single-payer, wholly government-funded health care plan. And two, Romney’s Massachusetts universal insurance system bears a striking resemblance to the health care proposals of the Democratic front-runners. For example, the Obama and Romney plans are virtually identical. But in our view, the term “government takeover” could only be applied to Rep. Kucinich’s proposal.
ROMNEY: If Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they’d come in and they’d found that there were no WMDs, had Saddam Hussein, therefore, not violated UN resolutions, we wouldn’t be in the conflict we’re in. But he didn’t do those things.Romney is not alone in playing loose with the facts about weapons inspections. On at least 3 occasions in 2003, Pres. Bush has made the same claim. However, that the UN’s IAEA was not permitted to make inspections might come as a bit of a surprise to Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, who reported on March 17, 2003, that “late last night I was advised by the US government to pull out our inspectors from Baghdad.” Inspectors had been in Iraq since November 2002. They remained until the UN Secretary-General ordered their evacuation on March 17, just three days before US and British troops invaded Iraq.
Overall, it’s too soon to tell how successful the Massachusetts plan will be. The requirements for health coverage do not go int effect until July. By April, nearly 70,000 people had signed up for subsidized health plans. That number is half of those eligible. But the total estimate of uninsured Massachusetts residents is 372,000. The state has a long way to go.
And it has hit some snags in implementing the law. The initial bids from insurance companies were much more expensive than what Romney had touted, because over 200,000 insured residents would need to buy additional coverage to meet the original state requirements.
The above quotations are from FactCheck.org analysis of 2007 primary debates.
Click here for main summary page.
Click here for a profile of Mitt Romney.
Click here for Mitt Romney on all issues.
Mitt Romney on other issues:
Please consider a donation to OnTheIssues.org!
Click for details -- or send donations to:
1770 Mass Ave. #630, Cambridge MA 02140
(We rely on your support!)