By Steve Baldwin
Much has been written about Romney’s chameleon-like worldview but very little has been written about his actual record while Governor of Massachusetts. In a world in which slogans, sound bites and “plans” are the common currency of campaign communications, it would be wise for voters to peel back the curtain of campaign propaganda and look at a candidate’s actual governing record. This is even more necessary when it comes to Romney, given his notoriety over revising his views on just about every major issue. After all, history informs us that a person’s record is a far better indicator of how they will govern than is poll-driven campaign rhetoric.
The reality is that Romney’s record may go down in history as one of the most liberal gubernatorial records compiled by any Governor of either party in modern history. Indeed, the evidence is strong that Romney can be said to be the father of gay marriage, of Cap and Trade, and of government-controlled health care. How can one have played such a key role in the promotion of three of the left’s most important issues and yet become the GOP frontrunner? That’s the million-dollar question we all should be asking ourselves.
The standard narrative regarding Romney’s handling of the Goodridge same-sex marriage decision is that the State Supreme Court forced Romney to implement same sex marriage in Massachusetts. But that’s not what happened. Massachusetts is unique in that its state constitution specifically lists marriage as a policy area reserved to the legislative branch, but the court illegally tried to order the legislature to change the marriage statutes. However, even the liberal dominated legislature resisted the unconstitutional encroachment on its enumerated duties and refused to change the marriage statutes. Amazingly, to this day, the statutes continue to refer only to male/female marriage despite efforts made every legislative session since 2004 to change it.
Contrary to Team Romney’s propaganda, the legislature never acted on this issue, yet Romney repeatedly referred to the court opinion as “law.” And though the court never ordered the governor to do anything, Romney came to their rescue and unilaterally ordered his Town Clerks and Justices of the Peace to marry same sex couples. Homosexual marriage exists in Massachusetts today solely due to Romney’s executive actions. This constitutes one of the most outrageous examples of executive branch activism in modern history.
But Romney – mindful of his impending presidential campaign – pretended he was forced to implement gay marriage and called for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Goodridge decision. He was clever enough to entice national pro-family groups to hold a large rally in Boston in 2006 – near the end of his term — to push for an unnecessary and hopeless marriage amendment. As Romney expected, the rallies received great television coverage and national media attention.
However, while Romney was being portrayed as a champion of traditional marriage, internal administration documents reveal that two years previous to the rally his administration was quietly making all the administrative changes necessary to implement same-sex marriage. This was sickening.
If Romney really wanted to defeat gay marriage, all he had to do was declare the Goodridge decision to be in violation of the state constitution and announce he would implement gay marriage only if the legislature were to pass such a bill.
But Romney knew exactly what he was doing. He was doing what he has always done — playing both sides. He had earlier promised the gay Log Cabin Republican Club at a private meeting that he would accept the Goodridge decision and would not fight homosexual marriage. Furthermore, he rejected the advice of some of America’s leading constitutional scholars, who were nearly unanimous that the Goodridge decision was unconstitutional and thus shouldn’t be acted upon. Some gave informal opinions in the press or in various writings and some actually met with Romney face to face. This group included such scholars as Hadley Arkes, Mary Ann Glendon, Dwight Duncan, Scott Fitzgibbon, Jan LaRue, and Mat Staver.
Perhaps the dean of America’s constitutional scholars, Robert Bork, called the Goodridge decision “completely untethered from the state or federal constitution and from the rule of law.” Even the liberal Attorney General of Massachusetts, Thomas Reilly, told the media that the Goodridge decision “does not require the state to issue traditional marriage licenses to gay couples.” Liberals, including former Governor William Weld and Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, also weighed in, saying the legislature must codify the Goodridge decision before same-sex marriages could be performed.
Romney’s unilateral actions to implement same sex marriage surprised everyone including the Democrats. When a New York Times reporter questioned Log Cabin Republican Club members about this, they responded that Romney had fulfilled his promise to not fight the court decision. That may be the only political promise he’s ever kept.
But the only attorney whose advice Romney did follow was that of his own counsel, Daniel Winslow, a pro-gay attorney who later ran for state legislature with the endorsement and blessing of the gay community. In awarding their endorsement to Winslow, the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus specifically credited Winslow for being the person who counseled Romney to implement same sex marriage.
Another indication of where Romney’s heart was on the marriage question was his issuance of special one-day marriage permits, allowing same-sex couples to be married by any third party. This was a special power given to Romney by an obscure statute and he personally granted such permits to hundreds of gay couples, many of whom, the Boston Globe reports, were his friends and family. As the statute made clear, it was a purely discretionary power but Romney did not hesitate to use it to advance gay marriage.
When the history of gay marriage is written, it is likely historians will point to the Goodridge decision, and how Romney handled it, as the turning point in the battle over same-sex marriage. Romney certainly did make history by trashing the state constitution, ignoring solid legal advice and dramatically advancing the gay agenda. Thanks for making history, Mitt.
But none of this should be surprising considering the massive effort Romney put forth in advancing the gay rights agenda on every front imaginable. The most shocking aspect, however, were Romney’s far-reaching programs to propagandize schoolchildren as young as five concerning the glories of the homosexual lifestyle. This was accomplished a number of ways: gay proms, gay youth parades, gay school speakers, gay school clubs, gay literature, and on and on.
When Romney ran for the US Senator in 1994, he was asked about a proposal by Senator Jesse Helms to ban federal funds from schools that promote “homosexuality as a positive lifestyle alternative,” Romney opposed it, calling it “wrong-headed.” Well, we now know why. He spent a great deal of time and effort doing exactly what Helms wanted to prohibit. While Governor, Romney’s Department of Public Health was involved in promoting a booklet titled The Little Black Book, which served as a guide to homosexual pick-up spots, encouraged multiple partners, glorified anonymous sexual encounters, and gave instructions on “fisting” and “water sports,” (i.e. peeing on one another). Lovely. Yes, this book was distributed to school children but that’s not all. Romney’s disclosures reveal he personally contributed $10,000 in 2004 to the AIDS Action Committee, the publishers of this filthy book.
Romney also increased funding for the “Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth,” a state agency set up specifically to fund homosexual groups such as the Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network (GLSEN), a radical gay group notorious for distributing books that feature adult-child sex. Indeed, by the end of Romney’s term, two gay activists involved with the Governor’s Commission were arrested for sex crimes against boys – and those are just the ones who were caught.
There is little doubt Romney’s actions endangered children and led many into a dark and unhealthy lifestyle. A few generations ago, Romney would have been horsewhipped for promoting such programs; now he’s the frontrunner for the GOP nomination.
But there’s more. Romney issued pro-gay proclamations, honored same sex parents with a “Parent of Year” award, appointed gay judges to the bench, supported ENDA, championed hate crimes, advocated adoption rights for homosexuals, criticized the Boy Scouts for refusing to allow gay scoutmasters, and filled his administration with radical gay zealots.
Moreover, Romney continues to support the gay agenda today. Just ask him about the Boys Scouts, hate crimes or domestic partner benefits. Governor Romney was so obsessed with promoting the gay agenda, that a 640-page book, Mitt Romney’s Deception, by Amy Contrada, was recently published, documenting in great detail the hundreds of policies and actions undertaken by Romney to advance the radical gay agenda. Romney’s crusade was simply unprecedented in American history.
On Cap and Trade, Romney claims he “refused to sign” the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional pact designed to cap emissions throughout the Northeast, because he didn’t “believe in a cap-and trade system.” But he’s not being truthful. In fact, he led the charge on the RGGI, spending a half million dollars in state funds negotiating the treaty with eight other states. His lead staffer on the effort was Douglas Foy, a radical environmentalist leader who wanted the pact to resemble a miniature Kyoto agreement. Romney even proudly proclaimed the Cap and Trade system to be “good business.” In fact, Romney had already signed off on the pact when the business community in Massachusetts began to loudly protest the deal. They realized that capping power plant emissions would lead to large rate increases and damage job creation. Romney then abruptly pulled out of the RGGI. Another reversal. Surprise, surprise.
But that’s not the end of the story. RGGI or no RGGI, the Romney administration had by this time already created the “Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan,” which ended up pursuing the same political agenda RGGI was to pursue – mainly the capping of power plant emissions. Romney defenders have scoffed at the existence of such a plan but yours truly has managed to find it:
Much of the language in this document is taken from the UN’s error-ridden International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) report with statements like ”most of the warming observed over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities.” Naturally, the document called for capping emissions.
Romney dramatically limited emissions on six power plants, even going so far as to claim – with radical environmentalists at his side – that one power plant had killed 59 people. It was a myth perpetrated by the environmentalists since no one had died, but Romney had no problem adopting the hysterical language of the left.
As soon as emissions were capped, Romney sent out a press release boasting, “Massachusetts is the first and only state to set CO2 limits on power plants.” Congrats again Mitt, for making history. Romney now claims on the campaign trail that he would never back a cap and trade program. But he already did. He was a pioneer of Cap and Trade and Massachusetts paid a heavy price for it in terms of jobs lost.
But again, no one should be surprised by Romney’s environmental actions. His speeches in support of the Kyoto Accord can still be found on YouTube. He supported this draconian international treaty as long as “other developing nations” signed it. Yes, that’s right. Socialism is fine if everybody else is doing it. What a worldview. Romney was also a charter member of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of liberal Republican congressmen and Governors whose main issue was stopping oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
It matters little what Romney says on the campaign trail regarding how America needs to develop more energy sources. When it came to energy production he apparently did not support ANWR drilling and with advice from a slew of leftist environmentalists, including socialist John Holdren, he crippled energy production in his own state by capping emissions.
Without dwelling too much on RomneyCare, it was, indeed, a program that broke new ground. While the Heritage Foundation played a role in its design, every other free market think tank in the country attacked the initiative, and for good reason. As predicted, RomneyCare has driven up premiums, chased away providers and led to the rationing of care. Everything conservatives are predicting ObamaCare will lead to is now happening before our eyes in Massachusetts.
Yes, we’ve all heard Romney defend his actions by claiming RomneyCare was fine for Massachusetts but he’s opposed to ObamaCare, blah, blah, blah. However, RomneyCare tells us quite a bit about Romney’s ideology. RomneyCare confirms that he believes in the heavy use of government to solve problems, an outlook completely contrary to the image he now projects in his effort to win the GOP nomination. Essentially, he’s a liberal technocrat who feels more government is fine if it can be run efficiently. Just what we need. Two years ago Romney told The Hill that Republicans “like modern, up-to-date dynamic regulation that is regularly revised, streamlined, modernized and effective.” His worldview reminds one of socialist utopians who always think existing socialist regimes have failed because the bureaucrats weren’t efficient enough.
Once again, Romney pioneered another leftist dream – government-controlled health care – and indeed, as reported by the media, his plan was the model for ObamaCare. White House visitor logs show that senior Obama officials met a dozen times with Romney’s people during the time period leading up to the introduction of ObamaCare. But we should not be surprised by all of this. After all, in his 1994 Senatorial campaign, one of Romney’s planks was support for “universal health insurance,” which in 1994 meant the total government takeover of health care.
The Romney campaign boasts of his leadership skills and in a perverse way, he has indeed exhibited exceptional leadership by breaking new ground to advance the most important policies of the left — gay marriage, cap and trade and government control of health care. The damage he has done to his state and to the country at large is hard to fathom but one would think this is reason enough for any sane voter to reject his candidacy.
But there’s more. Romney’s fiscal record is sometimes pointed to by Romney partisans as a reason to support him. Are they serious? The assumption is that because Romney was wildly successful in the corporate world, he therefore must have governed Massachusetts as a fiscal conservative. But there’s little truth to that.
The biggest myth of all, perhaps, is that he didn’t raise taxes. The reality is that in 2003, Romney actually set the record for the most fee increases enacted by a state, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. In addition, he raised over $300 million dollars from businesses by “closing loopholes” on subchapter S corporations but this loophole closing actually resulted in doubling the tax rates. Indeed, as Peter Nicholas, chairman of Boston Scientific stated, “when Mitt Romney became governor in 2003, subchapter S corporations that were owned by Massachusetts business trusts were taxed at 5.3 percent…..By the time Romney left office, the tax rate on these corporations had climbed to 9.8 percent.”
Indeed, as Nicholas stated, the doubling of tax rates on these corporations created an “important disincentive to investment, growth and job creation.” But that’s not all. Romney signed a bill allowing local governments to raise business property taxes. He attempted to raise taxes on internet commerce. He supported commuter taxes on non-residents. He refused to support an initiative to abolish state income taxes. He raised gas taxes two cents a gallon. He supported a federal gas tax hike; he tried to impose a new excise tax on SUVs. He attacked the Bush tax cuts. Overall, the tax burden in Massachusetts went from 9.3% to 9.9% under “fiscal conservative” Mitt Romney.
Not surprisingly, as a result of over a hundred fee hikes, new corporate taxes, new gas taxes, commuter taxes and increased business property taxes, combined with his environmental agenda and the health care “reform,” the Massachusetts economy took a nose dive with job creation stats among the worst in the country. Indeed, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Massachusetts, under Romney, ranked 49th in job creation, with only Louisiana performing worst, thanks to Katrina. Unemployment actually increased under his watch and his Gross State Product stats were anemic, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. By every economic measure, the Romney economy was a disaster.
State spending was $5.2 billion dollars higher when he left office than when his term began four years earlier. Moreover, he left a $3 billion deficit to his successor. He spent millions on pork projects and on goofy expensive welfare schemes such as buying – yes, buying – new cars for welfare recipients.
When Romney speaks on judicial philosophy, he gives the impression he knows what he’s talking about. But the chances are he doesn’t. His team of speechwriters, however, understand all the buzz phrases important to conservatives, such as “rule of law” and “original intent” and they always throw in a few attacks on “activist judges.”
Romney’s speeches attacking “activist judges” do sound terrific, but that’s not how he governed. Internal Romney administration documents in the possession of the author demonstrate Romney heavily relied on “diversity” as the most important consideration when nominating judges. In other words, he appointed judges based on qualifications having more to do with race, gender and sexual orientation than with what their worldview may be. Administration documents are full of liberal gobbledygook such as how judicial nominees “should be drawn from a cross-section of our community…reflecting as well a diversity of our communities.”
Romney even told a reporter he had “not paid a moment’s notice to nominee’s political leanings.” It showed. As the Boston Globe elaborated, “Romney passed over GOP lawyers for three-quarters of the 36 judicial vacancies he has faced, instead tapping registered Democrats or independents, including two gay lawyers….”
The result of this approach, of course, was that the Romney years produced a slew of activist judges. Incredibly, Romney even sent out a press release boasting of nominating Stephen Abany, a leading gay activist and supporter of gay marriage. When Romney was criticized for not nominating enough females, he quickly appointed an incompetent ultra- liberal woman who released a killer early from jail leading to the deaths of a young couple. Incredibly, Romney was so lazy in filling judicial openings that by the end of his term, at least 12 seats remained empty. Rather than fill them, he simply allowed Deval Patrick, his hard-left Democrat successor, to do so. One can only assume Romney didn’t really care enough about judicial philosophy to be bothered with filling these seats. But one can’t blame him since Patrick’s nominees were not much different from the type of people he had appointed.
Romney was quick to attack Perry on immigration issues but as governor, he endorsed Senator McCain’s amnesty legislation. He also rails against Sanctuary cities that openly flout federal immigration law. Yet, while governor, he continued to grant state aid to four “sanctuary cities” in Massachusetts with no effort made to restrict this assistance. And Romney boasted in one debate he had ordered state troopers to enforce federal immigration law. However, it turns out this never occurred. He issued that order only a few days before the end of his term and the program was never carried out.
By this time, Romney knew he was running for president and was probably advised by his campaign consultant to “do something conservative on immigration before you leave office.” You can be sure that this mythical State Trooper program will soon appear in campaign ads to illustrate how tough Romney was on immigration. Like almost everything about Romney, it’s phony. Romney also claims to have opposed the granting of “driver’s licenses for illegals” but that issue never came to his desk and there is no record of him even fighting this issue while governor.
While it’s common knowledge Romney switched his position on abortion, it’s actually worse that than. He’s flipped again. Since his dubious pro-life conversion in 2004, Romney has engaged in a least a dozen actions that can only be described as anti-life. While governor, his economic development department approved a $5 billion tax exempt bond to Planned Parenthood to build an abortion clinic. He also forced private Catholic hospitals to distribute the abortion pill, appointed pro-abortion judges to the bench and, while campaigning in ’08, criticized efforts to save Terry Schiavo. Furthermore, he refused to support laws requiring ultrasound screening before an abortion can be performed and has continued to this day to support stem cell research. Romney even invested in a leading abortion pill company.
Moreover, Romney inserted abortion coverage in RomneyCare with absolutely no restrictions whatsoever. By making abortion far more affordable ($50) than before and expanding the number of women now covered by health care insurance, it is certain Romney dramatically expanded state-funded abortion. Romney defenders point to court decisions that require state health programs receiving Medicaid to fund abortions, but these decisions – which may not be enforceable in any event – stipulate only that a state must fund “medically necessary” abortions. RomneyCare has no such restrictions nor did Romney even attempt to add any restrictions to the legislation. RomneyCare will fund any and all types of abortion for any reason.
Romney even placed a Planned Parenthood representative on one of the oversight boards. And what the pro-life community get? Nothing. And all this occurred AFTER his celebrated conversion. But again, we should not be surprised. Romney’s mother, Lenore, made abortion a key issue when she ran for the U.S. Senate in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade. To hold that position in 1970 is shocking, especially for a Mormon; after all, abortion clearly violated the stance of the LDS church. Indeed, Romney’s mother may have been the first U.S. Senate candidate in history to make abortion an issue. Another dubious first for the Romney clan.
Not much has changed during the current presidential campaign. Romney has continued to be all things to all people. He praised Obama’s stimulus plan in his book, but now attacks it; he supported TARP in 2008, claiming it was necessary, but now criticizes it. He’s been on both sides of the auto bail out issue. The bottom line is that Romney does not possess a consistent worldview whatsoever. He will say whatever it takes to get elected. If tomorrow all the voters demanded racist policies, Romney would claim to have been a KKK leader. This is not who we need to lead America out of the fiscal and cultural nightmare we find ourselves in today.
However, conservatives have to accept much of the blame. During the ’08 campaign, a large group of conservative leaders simply went silent on Romney when they should have been aggressively exposing his record. More disconcerting, however, were revelations that some key conservative leaders and groups accepted money from one of Romney’s six PACs and in return, appeared to have endorsed or promoted his candidacy in subtle or not so subtle ways. This support from influential leaders and groups gave Romney badly needed credibility with grass-roots conservatives and allowed him to finish the ’08 effort in a strong position, thus paving the way for him to be the frontrunner he is today.
For example, the Federalist Society introduced Romney to its national convention as a judicial conservative despite Romney’s quota-based judicial nominations and his role in legitimizing the Goodridge decision, one of the worst examples of judicial activism in American history. And yes, the Federalist Society took $35,000 from Romney.
The Heritage Foundation designed Romney’s health care plan and for an entire year sent emissaries to various conservative groups and meetings proclaiming Romney as the new Reagan for pioneering such a bold policy idea. They also took $35,000 from Romney’s PAC. Focus Action, the political arm of Focus on the Family, sent a video to hundreds of thousands of supporters which feature Family Research Council president Tony Perkins proclaiming Romney to be “solidly conservative across the board,“ even though he was fully aware of Romney’s extreme pro-gay and pro-abortion record. But with James Dobson on the sidelines, the FOTF/FRC empire seems to have lost its purpose.
Even National Right to Life continues to promote Romney as a “pro-life” candidate because, as one NRTL official acknowledged to me, they judge candidates based only on the questionnaire they fill out, and not based upon their actual actions or record. In other words, one can be an abortion clinic owner but if NRTL’s questionnaire is correctly answered, its materials will portray you as “pro-life.” No kidding. Talk about stupid.
Romney gave money to conservative publications as well. When in 2008 I criticized National Review for accepting $,5000 from Romney and called this a conflict of interest, NR editor Richard Lowry responded that since the money went to the National Review Institute, there really wasn’t a conflict. Hmm… the same people control both entities, so his argument didn’t fly with me, but Lowry also claimed NR would not endorse a candidate anyhow. But endorse they did and NR placed Romney on its December, ‘07 cover, and boldly claimed he was a conservative superstar. NR and NRO then spent much of the ’08 campaign publishing a slew of inaccurate pro-Romney pieces while ignoring several big stories that portrayed Romney in a negative light.
A generation ago, National Review, Human Events and other publications would have ripped the guts out of RINO candidates before they got as far as Romney has today, but these two publications have gone out of their way to portray Romney in the most flattering light. To get the scoop on Romney, one has to search out blogs such as RedState.com, MassResistance.org, AmyContrada.com and RomneyExposed.com. To be honest, none of the traditional conservative media outlets have covered Romney’s real record in any meaningful way during either presidential cycle.
Thanks to stupidity, naiveté and conflicts of interest on the right, we have created the Romney monster and given him the credibility he does not deserve. The chances are Romney will win the GOP nomination, but this could be disastrous since there’s a large block of Christian right and Tea Party voters who will not vote for Romney, thus increasing the chance of an Obama victory. They believe, with good reason, that a worldview-free President Romney will just swing with the wind and not make the bold decisions necessary to save America. Many also believe that a Romney Presidency will do so much damage to the Republican brand — by governing as a “lets-make-big-government-work-more-efficiently” technocrat – that it may be better if Obama won reelection with both houses hopefully controlled by Republicans willing to shut his agenda down.
If Romney wins the nomination but fails to inspire the Republican/tea party base – leading to an Obama victory — this could very well spell the end of the Tea Party movement with its demoralized activists fading back into obscurity. As long as the conservatives are split between 3-4 GOP candidates, Romney will remain the front-runner. The only hope is that at least two or three conservative candidates drop out of the race before the January primaries and unite behind one conservative, or else train-wreck Romney will be the GOP nominee.
Steve Baldwin is the former chair of the Right to Life caucus in the California state legislature and executive director of the Council for National Policy. He is featured in Gregg Jackson and Steve Deace’s new book: We Won’t Get Fooled Again: Where the Christian Right Went Wrong and How to Make America Right Again.