Friday, December 20, 2002

Nyhan calls Romney's bluff. Retired Globe columnist David Nyhan takes a look at Mitt Romney's suddenly inoperative promise to steer the state through the budget crisis without raising taxes or cutting services in any significant way. Nyhan's column appeared in yesterday's Salem News; you can try following this link, although if past practice is any guide, it will expire long before the end of the day.

Nyhan goes easier on Romney than he should, given that the parameters of the current crisis were well-known before Election Day. You could even argue that Romney won because he reassured voters that they had nothing to worry about while his opponent, Shannon O'Brien, was somewhat more honest. (I think Romney would have won anyway, but maybe by a smaller margin.)

Still, Nyhan is unsparing in reminding readers that Romney was claiming a $1 billion deficit when everyone else was using a figure of $2 billion -- a number that Romney has now embraced -- so that he could mouth his phony promise to eliminate that deficit through reorganization. No one, including the highly credible Massachusetts Taxpayers Association, believes Romney can save anywhere near that much without slashing services. Nyhan also notes that the deficit was fed in large measure by $4 billion in tax breaks for the affluent during the Weld/Cellucci/Swift years. Nyhan writes:

Mitt had to lowball the deficit during the campaign if he was to have any credibility at all with his no-new-taxes approach. He even went so far as to vow to roll back the $1 billion in new/old taxes that the Legislature forced upon acting Gov. Swift in facing up to the deficit avalanche swooping down on the state.

But if Mitt is to have any future in national politics as a Republican candidate for president, vice president, or the Bush cabinet, he has to go the no-new-taxes route.

Nyhan's conclusion: "So what does all this amount to? Politics as usual, I'm afraid. Yep, it's even worse than we thought."

And by the way, Dave, let's make a deal: get your son or one of his friends to put together a website collecting your columns so that they don't disappear into the ether within a few hours of their being posted, and I promise to add a link somewhere.

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