Last night, Deval Patrick, the current governor of Massachusetts, gave a rousing speech that excoriated Mitt Romney’s record as governor and presented a range of staggering accomplishments for his own governorship. This would come as a surprise to many Bay Staters, who barely approve of Patrick, but who also know him as a do-nothing governor who seems to spend most of his time calling in favors and handing out jobs for his friends, earning him incredibly low approval ratings throughout 2009 and 2010 (his approval rating was actually below George Bush’s at one point in 2008). By contrast, Romney was not personally popular, but shepherded Massachusetts through a fiscal crisis, into a robust economic recovery, and passed a revolutionary health-care law (of which, say what you want, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approve).
That’s probably why the descriptions he provided of Romney’s record and his own are basically a pack of lies. Almost every one of his assertions about his record vs. Romney’s is unfair, deceptive, or flat-out wrong:
In Massachusetts, we know Mitt Romney. By the time he left office, Massachusetts was 47th in the nation in job creation—during better economic times.
While the 47th number has some basis in reality (over his four years, that was Massachusetts’s rank), Patrick actually insists on distorting it anyway: He implies that Romney took a state with robust job growth and ran it into the ground. Exactly the opposite happened: Romney inherited the dot-com disaster, but boosted the Commonwealth from 50th in job creation in his first year to 28th in his final year.
As Kate Trinko pointed out last fall, the unemployment rate under Romney fell from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent. Patrick never got it below 4.5 percent, and it’s now fairly level at around 6 percent.
. . . and household income in our state was declining.
This is a completely unfair representation of what happened to household income over Romney’s term (2002–2006):
Patrick’s assertion, I suppose, relies on the fact that in Romney’s last year in office, household income declined slightly, but as you can see, it was hardly declining overall.#more#
He cut education deeper than anywhere else in America.
This is a pretty astonishing claim, apparently based on the fact that one year, Romney cut education spending year-on-year; the others, he dramatically increased it. The last full fiscal year before he was governor, Massachusetts spent $3.187 billion on education. The Census Bureau doesn’t have numbers for 2003, but the state spent $4.236 billion in FY 2004, $4.037 billion in 2005, and $4.494 billion in 2006.
Business taxes were up . . .
The Massachusetts corporate-tax rate remained at 9.5 percent under Romney. Romney did, however, close loopholes and improve enforcement of taxes in order to plug the state’s budget gap. Closing loopholes, however, hardly has the deleterious effects of higher marginal rates. It’s also notable that Patrick has saddled businesses with a sales-tax hike from 5 to 6.25 percent.
. . . and business confidence was down.
Nope, business confidence, for the latter two years of Romney’s term, was up. (It’s now down.)
Associated Industries of Massachusetts’s Business Confidence Index
And we had a structural budget deficit.
Mitt Romney did indeed leave the state with a structural deficit — but it was one he inherited, due to tax cuts in the 90s that never matched the size of the government, and that Governor Patrick has failed to eliminate.
When I came to office, we set out on a different course. . . . And today Massachusetts leads the nation in economic competitiveness . . .
Nowhere near true: Two major state-competitiveness indices rate Massachusetts 44th and 25th. These measure tax and regulatory burdens as measures of attractiveness for business; for other reasons, Massachusetts is obviously a very attractive state in which to do business, but it’s not clearly “leading the nation” and there’s no reason to think it’s better off under Patrick than Romney.
. . . student achievement . . .
Deval Patrick deserves credit for Massachusetts’s leading the nation in educational achievement the way King Abdullah can take credit for his emirate leading the world in oil production. Yes, the state has the best test scores in the country (see, e.g., these from NAEP). It did under Mitt Romney too.
. . . life sciences and biotech . . .
I’m not exactly sure how one would measure this, but essentially the same reality applies here: Massachusetts is a biotech leader, but it was just as true under Mitt Romney as it is under Deval Patrick, and it’s ludicrous for him to pretend that he somehow turned this around. William Morton probably did more to make Massachusetts a leader in these fields than Deval Patrick has.
. . . health-care coverage . . .
Is this guy serious? In a speech attacking Mitt Romney, Patrick takes credit for Massachusetts having the lowest uninsured rate in the nation?
. . . energy efficiency . . .
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy publishes an annual ranking of states based on energy efficiency standards and practices. Massachusetts does not lead, strictly speaking: In 2011, the Commonwealth was ranked fifth. Where did it rank before the glorious Patrick era, after four years of Mitt Romney? Fourth. (That’s right, Patrick claimed credit for excellence in three things which were also true under Romney.)
Today we’re out of the deficit hole Mr. Romney left . . .
This is false: The governor’s 2013 budget ran a deficit, and relied only on one-time transfers and resources to run a surplus. The governor has also repeatedly claimed to have “solved” Massachusetts’s structural deficit, but this relies on, as Joshua Archambault of the Pioneer Institute has pointed out, unrealistic expectations about Medicaid and shameful cheating on pension accounting.
. . . and we’ve achieved the highest bond rating in our history.
Number of debt upgrades: Mitt Romney 1, Deval Patrick 1. You really showed him, Deval.
One of his more glib assertions is this: “Mitt Romney talks a lot about all the things he’s fixed. I can tell you that Massachusetts wasn’t one of them.” I won’t risk the audacity that’s infecting many fact-checkers these days and claim that this is a false statement, but I would contend that Romney did an excellent job of fixing Massachusetts’s serious short-term fiscal problems the right way.