I’ve just read Jim Geraghty’s account of Paul Cellucci’s conference call on behalf of Rudy Giuliani. In contrasting Mitt Romney’s tax-cutting record with Giuliani’s and his own, he says, “I was able to cut from 5.95 percent to 5.3 percent. I was determined to get there, just as Rudy was determined to get there when he was in New York City, even though he had an overwhelmingly Democratic city council.”
Cellucci’s claim is true but misleading. He was not able to get a tax cut of that size from the legislature. To get the income tax rollback, he and groups like Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government had to go directly to the voters. The three-year rollback passed as a referendum question, not as a legislative action. The legislature froze the rollback at 5.3 percent. Romney asked for the full rollback in state budget proposals and also outlined a two-year gradual rollback as a compromise position; he was rebuffed by the legislature.
Commenter Chuck Bowen points out that Romney missed a golden opportunity to capitalize on a state tax revolt, however. The year Romney was elected, Massachusetts considered a ballot initiative to abolish the state income tax entirely. Although the referendum was unsuccessful — the political class opposed it across the board, including most Republicans — it garnered 45 percent of the vote. There was clearly antitax sentiment among the voters Romney could have exploited if he had wanted to, which could have made his tax-cutting record stronger.
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