Nashua, New Hampshire — As political strategists decamped for Michigan and points south, many here wondered how Mitt Romney could lose 2008’s first primary to Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) 32 to 37 percent, respectively, despite Romney’s four years as governor of contiguous Massachusetts and some $15.5 million in reported campaign expenditures. Granite State Republicans, previously keen on Romney, likely soured on his legacy as a tax hiker who increased levies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Boston newspapers informed their New Hampshire readers of Romney’s rising-tax tide.
“Tax rates on many corporations almost doubled because of legislation supported by Romney,” Boston Science Corporation chairman Peter Nicholas wrote in the January 6 Boston Herald.
“His portrayal of himself as a reliable tax cutter…is undercut by the facts.” Romney boosted taxes on subchapter S corporations owned by business trusts from 5.3 percent to 9.8 percent, a four-fifths increase. Nicholas called this “an important disincentive to investment, growth and job creation.”
“Corporate taxes went up $210 million under Romney,” the Herald editorialized. “And we wonder why companies look north, south, east and west, anywhere but Massachusetts, to expand?”
“Imposing business tax increases is wrong for the people of Massachusetts,” Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Guzzi complained last year: “We’re down 140,000 jobs since 2001. We need to create a climate in which employers can create jobs here in Massachusetts — not inflict further damage to our economy.”
While Romney sped a $275 million capital-gains tax rebate, scored property-tax relief for seniors, and secured a two-day, tax-free shopping holiday, he imposed $283 million in business “loophole closures” and $501.5 million in increased fees on marriage licenses, gun registrations, gasoline deliveries, real-estate transfers, and more. Under Romney, the Tax Foundation calculated, Massachusetts fell from America’s 29th most business-friendly state to 36th.
Romney’s sledding became even tougher when Republicans here learned that his 2003 and 2004 tax legislation covered those who work, conduct business, and/or invest in Massachusetts, but live elsewhere — including New Hampshire. According to figures the Massachusetts Department of Revenue provided me, between 2003 and 2006, such New Hampshirites shipped Massachusetts $95 million above what they paid when Romney arrived. The average check from such a Granite State commuter grew 19.2 percent under Romney.
“Mitt’s loss in New Hampshire can be attributed directly to the excellent communications skills of those Massachusetts workers, living and voting in New Hampshire, to other Granite State voters,” says Bob Bevill of Merrimack, chairman of New Hampshire’s Eagle Forum.
Affectionately known as ‘Fifi,’ for his proposed astronomic increase in user fees and business taxes for small businesses, Mitt Romney’s administration requested of the Massachusetts legislature more than 80 new, different, or existing fees in his first budget of 2003. In addition, taking a page from King George III’s ‘taxation without representation,’ Romney increased income taxes on non-residents, who have no voice in the Massachusetts legislature. Finally, because the state failed to pay for its share of mandated services, Massachusetts’ local property taxes skyrocketed, while the state income tax for residents remained the same at 5.3 percent.
All this bad tax news helped push Romney into McCain’s shadow. Romney’s worrisome tax record now faces a fresh challenge from his rival, Rudolph W. Giuliani. New York’s former mayor flew
to Florida Wednesday to unveil what Club for Growth (CFG) president Pat Toomey calls
“a supply-sider’s dream.”