“Michigan is like the canary in the mine shaft,” Republican White House contender Willard Mitt Romney told voters in Warren Friday. “What happens in Michigan is going to happen to the rest of the country.” He also claims in a campaign commercial, “I understand how the economy works. There’s a lot we can do to strengthen Michigan.”
One could take Romney seriously as an architect of economic redevelopment if he had displayed such skills as Massachusetts governor. Instead, his reign was a parade of economic stagnation and retreat. He even advocated an SUV-tax increase that would have hammered the very same domestic automotive industry he now says he champions.
Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Boston’s Northeastern University placed Romney’s rule beneath their statistical microscope. Let’s hope what they discovered is not contagious.
“Our analysis reveals a weak comparative economic performance of the state over the Romney years, one of the worst in the country,” the researchers wrote in the Boston Globe. Specifically, they found:
* As U.S. real output grew 13 percent between 2002 and 2006, Massachusetts trailed at 9 percent.
* Manufacturing employment fell 7 percent nationwide those years, but sank 14 percent under Romney, placing Massachusetts 48th among the states.
* Between fall 2003 and autumn 2006, U.S. job growth averaged 5.4 percent, nearly three times Massachusetts’ anemic 1.9 percent pace.
* While 8 million Americans over age 16 found work between 2002 and 2006, the number of employed Massachusetts residents actually declined by 8,500 during those years.
“Massachusetts was the only state to have failed to post any gain in its pool of employed residents,” professors Sum and McLaughlin concluded.
Romney’s vaunted healthcare plan also disappoints. It forces individuals to purchase medical coverage and slaps the non-compliant with “tax penalties,” as a state-government radio ad described them last November. These charges were $219 in 2007, equal to the personal exemption on Massachusetts’ state tax. However, this year’s formula could crank this figure up to $912. Businesses with at least 11 workers either must offer health insurance or face annual fines of $295-per-uninsured employee. This is consistent with Romney’s statement at a January 5 GOP presidential debate: “I like mandates.”
This program is run not by the free market, but by the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector, a Romney-created government bureaucracy. For 2007, reports the Pacific Research Institute’s Sally Pipes, RomneyCare is expected to have cost taxpayers some $619 million. That’s $147 million and 31 percent above original projections.
Romney blames all this on tinkering Democratic state legislators.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen down the road as the Democrats get their hands on it,” Romney told the National Review Institute. “I was a little concerned at the signing ceremony when Ted Kennedy showed up.”
Romney’s Pontius-Pilate-like hand washing is thoroughly unconvincing. Bay State Democrats would have struggled to hijack health reform based on tax incentives, choice, and ownership, as a true free-marketeer would have insisted, rather than RomneyCare’s easily scaled universal mandates, regulatory boards, and government-imposed standards.
Romney also doomed Massachusetts by hiking taxes and fees, which fouled that state’s business climate.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
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The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
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Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?