The influential Club for Growth on Tuesday released its latest rundown of the Republican field of presidential contenders, announcing that the fiscally conservative organization has “serious concerns” with the governing philosophy of GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.
“After a career in business, quickly finding a ‘solution’ to every problem is his goal, even if it means more government intrusion as a means to an end,” said Chris Chocola, the group’s president, of the former Massachusetts governor. The Club for Growth has proven a highly effective player in past Republican primary contests, both through its financial resources and its ability to attract other support and attention to favored candidates.
“To this day, Governor Romney supports big-government solutions to health care and opposes pro-growth tax code reform — positions that are simply opposite to those supported by true economic conservatives. How much Governor Romney’s philosophy of governance will affect his policy goals if elected, we leave for the voters to decide,” he said.
In the survey (http://www.clubforgrowth.org/whitepapers/?subsec=137&id=905), Mr. Chocola and the Club argue that during his time as governor Mr. Romney had a “mixed record” on taxes, but that his record on spending is “more positive than negative” — especially given the “the liberal political context in which he governed.”
They also applaud his stance on the need for tort reform, and describe his positions on regulation and free trade as “fairly good.” The analysis says he’s “pivoted drastically” on campaign finance reform and criticize him for signing the state’s universal health care law, which includes an individual mandate similar to President Obama’s federal health care reform, into law.
“Romney has rightly received much criticism from economic conservatives for the obvious similarities between his plan and President Obama’s command-and-control plan,” the paper says. “Governor Romney often defends his plan by rightly saying that the states are ‘laboratories of democracy.’ However, he should recognize that this is one lab experiment that has completely failed.”
According to the Club for Growth survey, the Republican didn’t raise any broad-based taxes despite pressure from Bay State Democrats and the need to close a budget deficit. To close the budget gap he combined spending cuts with higher fees, such as registering a deed on a new home, and closing so-called tax “loopholes.”
The Democratic-controlled state legislature, meanwhile, repeatedly blocked Mr. Romney’s push to cut the state’s income tax, they say. Mr. Romney, though, returned the favor by stopping the legislature from apply a capital gains tax retroactively.
Other notable moves in what the Club views as his mixed record on taxes: Mr. Romney refused to support the George W. Bush tax cuts; opposed eliminating the state income tax and proposed an auto excise tax on SUVs.
“In 1996, he ran a series of newspaper ads in Boston, New Hampshire, and Iowa denouncing the 17 percent flat tax proposed by then-presidential candidate Steve Forbes as a ‘tax cut for fat cats,’” according to the Club. “In 2007, Romney continued to oppose the flat tax with harsh language, calling the tax ‘unfair.’”
The summary reads: “Because of his long tenure in public life, especially his presidential run in 2008, Mitt Romney is considered a well-vetted candidate by now. Perhaps to his consternation, he has developed an unshakeable reputation as a flip-flopper. He has changed his position on several economic issues, including taxes, education, political free speech and climate change. And yet the one issue that he doesn’t flip on — RomneyCare — is the one that is causing him the most problems with conservative voters.”