Politics & Policy

Not a Taxing Decision

Rudy vs. Mitt.

Too often it feels like Washington has forgotten that the money they are spending is our money, the debt they are amassing is our debt, and the burden created by this financial irresponsibility will eventually be our burden to shoulder.

This is what makes the records behind election year campaign talk so critical. Talk is one thing, but delivering real results is an entirely different proposition. To that end, both Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have made claim to the mantle of true fiscal conservative in the race for the Republican nomination for president. And fortunately for those of us voting, there’s a fairly simple way to determine who’s right — their respective records are out there for all to see.

When Rudy Giuliani was running for mayor of what many consider to be one of America’s most liberal cities, he did so on a platform of cutting taxes. This was an anathema to much of the New York governing elite, who were content demanding high taxes and spending New York further and further into the red. But Rudy knew that cutting taxes was the best course for his city — he knew that he had pledged to lower taxes, and so he did. And he did so 23 times over the course of his two terms in office, helping New Yorkers’ tax burden to plummet by 17 percent, its lowest level in three decades.

Mitt Romney also ran for office promising to lower taxes. When Romney was campaigning for governor of Massachusetts, the income tax rate was 5.3 percent, and according to the Massachusetts paper the Lowell Sun, Romney pledged “to roll back the state’s income tax to 5 percent by the end of his first term.” Clearly an important issue to Massachusetts’ citizens, they responded to his pledge and elected him governor. But where did the income tax stand at the end of Romney’s term? You guessed it — 5.3 percent.

Similarly, Rudy campaigned in New York dedicated to tackling the high unemployment and struggling private sector that was crippling the city economically. When he left office, more than 400,000 jobs had been created, unemployment was cut in half, and New York’s private economy was buzzing.

Not so with Romney. Campaigning heavily on his ties to the business world, Romney pledged to “retain startups and established employers” and “be the state’s ‘top salesman’ for attracting new businesses to Massachusetts.” But he didn’t deliver on either of these promises. Between Mitt Romney’s first and third year in the Governor’s mansion, his state lost more than 3,000 businesses and the estimated number of new employer businesses decreased by more than 9 percent. The Romney administration struggled to finish his term with more jobs than when it started, and finished with just a very slight uptick. And his own spokesman admitted, “Did we recover all the jobs that were lost [in the recession]? No.”

In reality, this comparison is no comparison at all. Set aside the taxes, the economic growth, the incredible gains in welfare reductions, and there’s still government spending. Once again, Rudy led while Romney lagged. Rudy’s recommended budgets reduced per capita government spending by an unprecedented 6.82 percent, enabling him to turn a $2.3 billion budget deficit into a multibillion-dollar surplus. Romney’s recommended budgets increased real per capita government spending by more than seven percent.

There’s a reason Club for Growth President Pat Toomey, in reference to Rudy’s fiscal accomplishments said, “In the face of such tremendous headwind, Giuliani’s economic accomplishments are remarkable.” There’s also a reason the free-market CATO Institute gave Mitt Romney a “C” for his performance as governor. Remarkable versus average. That about sums up the difference between a Mitt Romney who merely talks about cutting taxes, and a Rudy Giuliani who has actually cut taxes and has the track record to prove it.

— Former Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci is an adviser to former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign.

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