Hot on the heels of his eight-vote
Iowa-caucus landslide, Willard Mitt Romney is crisscrossing New Hampshire before Tuesday's key primary.
Romney is masquerading as a limited-government, free-market executive from next-door Massachusetts.
From the Golden Gate to the Granite State, voters should greet Romney's impersonation with a quarry full of skepticism.
In fact, Romney increased taxes by $309 million, mainly on corporations. These tax hikes, described by Romney apologists as "loophole closures," totaled $128 million in 2003, $95.5 in 2004, and $85 million in 2005.
That final year, Romney proposed $170 million in higher business taxes, the Boston Globe reports. However, the Bay State's liberal, Democratic legislature balked and only approved an $85 million increase.
"Tax rates on many corporations almost doubled because of legislation supported by Romney," Boston Science Corporation chairman Peter Nicholas explained in the January 6, 2008 Boston Herald. Also, Romney raised the tax on subchapter S corporations owned by business trusts from 5.3 percent to 9.9 percent — an 85 percent hike.
"Romney went further than any other governor in trying to wring money out of corporations," the Council on State Taxation's Joseph Crosby complained.
Romney also created or increased fees by $432 million. He was not dragooned into this by greedy Democratic lawmakers; Romney himself proposed these items.
In 2003 alone, Romney concocted or boosted 88 fees.
Romney charged more for marriage licenses (from $6 to $12), gun registrations (from $25 to $75), a used-car sales tax ($10 million), gasoline deliveries ($60 million), real-estate transfers ($175 million), and more.
Particularly obnoxious was Romney's $10 fee per Certificate of Blindness. Romney also billed blind people $15 each for discount-travel ID cards.
While Romney can take credit for a $275 million capital-gains tax rebate, property-tax relief for seniors, and a two-day, tax-free shopping holiday, he also must take responsibility for signing $740.5 million in higher taxes, plus that $85 million in business taxes that he requested and legislators rejected.
"Romney did not even fight higher death-tax rates," notes former California State Assembly Minority Whip Steve Baldwin, a Romney critic. "When the (Massachusetts) legislature considered this issue, Romney's official position was 'no position.' This echoed Barack Obama's 'present' votes in the Illinois State Senate."
As Romney drained his constituents' pockets, the Public Policy Institute of New York's Cost of Doing Business Index rated Massachusetts in 2006 as America's fourth costliest state in which to practice free enterprise.
The Tax Foundation dropped Massachusetts from America's 29th most business-friendly state to No. 36. The Tax Foundation also calculated that, under Romney, Massachusetts' per-capita tax burden increased from 9.3 percent to 9.9 percent.
In real dollars, the Romney-era per-capita tax burden grew by $1,175.71.
As if impoverishing his own taxpayers were not bad enough, Romney's March 5, 2003 signature raised taxes on non-residents retroactive to that January 1.
Perpetrating taxation without representation, Romney's law declared that, "gross income derived from . . . any trade or business, including any employment," would be taxable, "regardless of the taxpayer's residence or domicile in the year it is received."
Consequently, according to data furnished by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, between 2002 and 2006, New Hampshire residents who work or do business in the Bay State shipped Massachusetts $95 million above what they paid when Romney arrived.
The average tax paid by New Hampshirities to Massachusetts grew by 19.1 percent, from $2,392 in 2002 to $2,850 in 2006.
Notwithstanding the higher taxes and fees that Romney himself advocated, he claims that he was a powerless victim of a left-wing legislature.
The profusion of Democrats on Beacon Hill did not prevent Romney's GOP predecessors from dramatically cutting taxes. Former Republican governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci signed more than 40 tax-cut bills while Democrats ran the state house.
Romney seems stuck at 25 percent support among Republicans. That's because 75 percent of GOP voters simply don't trust him. There are at least 740.5 million reasons not to trust Romney on taxes, either.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. Email him at deroy.Murdock@gmail.com.
© Scripps Howard News Service