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Romney, McCain, and Taxes



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With Mitt Romney criticizing John McCain for opposing President Bush’s early tax cuts, the Associated Press’ Glen Johnson calls attention to this article from the Boston Globe, from April 11, 2003:

Governor Mitt Romney refused yesterday to endorse tax cuts at the heart of President Bush’s economic program, but he told members of the state’s congressional delegation during a private meeting he also would not oppose the cuts because he has to maintain “a solid relationship” with the White House.

Meeting with the all-Democratic group of House and Senate members for the first time in Washington, D.C., the Republican governor found himself challenged as the group talked about the state’s $3 billion budget gap for its coming fiscal year, as well as the Bush administration’s recent decision not to include Massachusetts in a $100 million round of federal antiterrorism funding.

Representative Barney Frank of Newton asked the governor whether he had spoken against the $726 billion worth of tax cuts the president is currently pushing at the federal level. Coming on top of $1.6 trillion worth of tax cuts in 2001, Democrats argue that the next round will expand the budget deficit, drain the US Treasury of money for social programs, and prevent the federal government from assisting states facing revenue losses caused by the downturn in the economy.

Romney said he had not publicly opposed the cuts, according to one observer at the meeting, prompting Frank to ask, “Will you?” Romney replied that he probably would not. The answer triggered laughter in what both sides described as an otherwise bipartisan session.

“I was very pleased,” Frank said afterward. “Here you have a freshman governor refusing to endorse a tax cut presented by a Republican president at the height of his wartime popularity.”

According to the observer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Romney told the delegation that he “won’t be a cheerleader” for proposals he doesn’t agree with, “but I have to keep a solid relationship with the White House.”

Shawn Feddeman, Romney’s spokeswoman, said the governor has neither endorsed nor opposed the tax cut plan because “it’s just not a state matter.”

The AP describes the scene when someone brought the matter up to Romney yesterday in New Hampshire:
Turning back to 2003, Romney told the man: “You see, I wasn’t a U.S. senator. I didn’t have to vote on this, didn’t get a choice to. I was running my state, so I didn’t have a comment on their position. And I said, `I’m not weighing in on federal issues.’ But Senator McCain was a senator. He had to vote. He had to decide, `Am I in favor of pursuing these tax cuts or not?’ and he voted against the tax cuts — twice. That’s a very different position.”



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