“The FACTS” on Romney as Governor

2003

  • Sworn in January 3, 2003 as Massachusetts Governor.
  • Foregoes official salary for the length of term.
  • Inherited a $3 billion deficit.
  • Created 33 new fees, and increased 57 current fees doubling fees for court filings, professional regulations, marriage licenses, and firearm licenses, and increases fees for many state licenses and services.
  • Raised $501 million in new income in the first year of the fee increase.
  • Increased a special state gasoline special fee dedicated to cleanup of contamination around underground fuel storage tanks by two cents per gallon, generating about $60 million per year.
  • Deficit is reduced and credit given to a previously enacted capital gains tax increase created before Romney came into office that reduces the deficit by $1.3 billion.
  • Approved $128 million in tax changes like sales tax from Internet purchases.
  • Raised an another $181 million in additional business taxes; businesses called these tax increases, Romney called it the elimination of “loopholes”.
  • $300 million of such loopholes closed, backs away from further closings toward end of his term.
  • The state cut spending by $1.6 billion, including $700 million in reductions in state aid to cities and towns.
  • Cities and towns forced to become reliant on local revenue to pay for municipal services and schools, causing property taxes to rise five percent, their highest level in 25 years.
  • The legislature passed a measure over governor’s his veto taking away his ability to appoint a body to fill U.S. Senate vacancy.
  • Strongly opposes same-sex marriage emphasizing his desire to “protect the institution of marriage” while denouncing discrimination against gays and lesbians.
  • Attempts to block implementation of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Courty decision legalizing same-sex marriage in 2003 saying it harms the rights of children.
  • Vetoed bill funding hate crimes prevention.  Removes funding approved by his predecessor, Governor Jane Swift for a bullying prevention program.

2004

  • On May 17, 2004 the first day of implementation, instructs town clerks not to issue marriage licenses to out-of-state gay couples, except those announcing intention to relocate to the Commonwealth.
  • June 22, 2004 testifies before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee urging its members to protect the “definition of marriage.”
  • On July 1, 2004, signed a permanent state ban on assault weapons.
  • First Massachusetts governor to appoint a Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs to his cabinet.
  • Vetoed bill that would allow illegal immigrants in-state tuition rates at state colleges if they graduated from a Massachusetts high school after attending it for three years and signed an affidavit they intended to seek citizenship.
  • Eliminated the Metropolitan District Commission and merged it with the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
  • Established John and Abigail Adams Scholarship Program rewarding the top 25 percent of graduating high school students with a four-year, tuition-free scholarship to the state’s public universities or colleges.
  • Criticized for veto of $5.7 million in state funding for flood control in Peabody six months after the town flooded in April 2004.

2005

  • Signed legislation raising local commercial property taxes resulting in $100 million more in property taxes from local business owners.
  • Signed legislation passed in 2002 that increased capital gains tax.
  • State figures report fiscal year 2005 ended with $594.4 million surplus.
  • October 28 signed Melanie’s Bill to combat repeat drunk drivers.  Eleven months after enactment, arrests of repeat drunk drivers decreased by half, and the number of drivers agreeing to breathalyzer tests increased by more than 18 percent.
  • Accepts federal funding for faith-based organization to teach abstinence-only education in public schools.
  • July vetoed emergency contraception bill claiming it was against his “moratorium” on changes to the abortion laws.
  • Returns from vacation in New Hampshire to veto pro-life bill because it would expand emergency contraception to hospitals and pharmacies.  Lt. Govorner, Kerry Healey was prepared to sign bill into law. The legislature overwhelmingly overturns the veto making it law on September 15, 2005.
  • Says he does not support abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is threatened.
  • Veterans Day 2005, Romney signs the “Welcome Home Bill” providing guardsman reduced life-insurance premiums and free tuition and fees at Massachusetts universities and community colleges. Increases daily state active-duty pay rate from $75 to $100, increases the death benefit paid Guard members families killed in the line of duty from $5,000 to $100,000.  Creates a $1,000 bonus for Guardsman and reservists called to active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks and a $500 bonus for those activated for duty elsewhere. Provides $2,000 benefit for Gold Star spouses and increases the Gold Star parents’ benefit from $1,500 to $2,000. High school diplomas are granted to veterans who dropped out to enlist in WWII, Korean or Vietnam wars.
  • Vetoed a Massachusetts bill to fund stem-cell research because the legislation allowed such cloning of human embryos.

2006

  • Legislature overturns Governor’s veto of the Massachusetts legislature vote to spending $450 million from the rainy day fund for 2007 fiscal year.
  • All of the Governor’s 250 line-item vetoes overturned in 2006 budget.
  • On April 12, signed legislation mandating all Massachusetts residents buy or obtain health insurance coverage or face a penalty (up to approximately $2000 for 2008 or equal to half of the lowest cost premium offered) in the form of an additional income tax assessment.
  • All of Romney’s vetoes of legislative bills are overturned by the Massachusetts Legislature.
  • In November 2006, used his emergency “9C authority” to cut the $450 million from the budget.
  • Legislature amends Romney’s health insurance plan, adding a Medicaid expansion for children and imposing an assessment on firms with 11 or more workers who don’t offer health coverage.
  • The General Court rejects Romney’s provision allowing high-deductible health plans.
  • State legislature overrides Romney vetoes of the health care legislation which would have included a $295-per-person fee on businesses with 11 employees or more that do not provide health insurance. His veto would have denied dental and eyeglass benefits to poor residents on the Medicaid program, and denied health coverage to senior and disabled legal immigrants not eligible for federal Medicaid.
  • Romney’s official portrait for the Massachusetts State House includes a leather binder with a medical seal representing the healthcare legislation.
  • Within four years, the law achieves its primary goal of extending coverage: in 2010 to 98.1 percent of state residents had coverage, compared to a national average of 83.3 percent.  Among children and seniors the 2010 coverage rate was even higher, at 99.8 percent and 99.6 percent respectively.
  • July offered the assistance of his state police force to municipalities dealing with increased crime rates. Offers rejected by local officials.
  • Officials from Boston Police unions complain that “if state aid hadn’t been cut in recent years, then the city’s police force might be staffed adequately to handle the crime surge.
  • September 5, denounced Harvard University for inviting former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to speak at the school.  Orders all state agencies to boycott the visit and refuses to provide state police escorts and services typically given to former heads of state.
  • July vetoes the legislature bill increasing the minimum wage to $8.00 an hour offers $7.00.  Legislature approves $8.00 increase.
  • June 2 writes each member of the U.S. Senate urging them to vote in favor of the Marriage Protection Amendment.
  • November 3 press release, Romney reports the account funds for the insurance benefits created in the “Welcome Home Bill” faced a $64,000 deficit.  According to the press release transferred money from the governor’s office budget to cover the deficit.
  • August 14, signed the Massachusetts Military Enhanced Relief Individual Tax (MERIT) into law.  Bill increased property tax exemptions for disabled veterans and grants veteran’s spouses killed or missing in action since September 11, 2001 full property tax exemptions for five years. After five years the spouses receive an annual $2,500 exemption under the legislation.
  • Romney’s efforts to assist Massachusetts servicemen recognized by the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve.  He is presented the Pro Patria Award and the 2006 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.
  • December 2, a landscaping company contracted to perform yard work at his home is reported to employ illegal immigrants. A year later the same company is reported to still be using illegal immigrants to work on his estate.  Romney fires the company.
  • December, signs agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to allow Massachusetts State Police troopers to arrest and deport suspected illegal immigrants they encounter over the course of their normal duties. (Never implemented because Governor Deval Patrick revoked it.)
  • The state’s Stabilization Fund is replenished by close of fiscal 2006 to $2.155 billion through government consolidation and reform.
  • Fiscal 2006 surplus is $720.9 million.
  • November cuts $7 million from the maintenance budget for the state’s parklands, the sixth largest state park system in the country.
  • Cuts $154,590 for environmental law enforcement, $288,900 for cleaner water in communities, and $181,886 for hazardous waste cleanup.
  • In May, heavy rains produced heavy flooding. Declares a state of emergency, mobilizes the MA National Guard, and asks President Bush to declare the flooded area a major disaster area.
  • Peabody again suffers flooding in May 2006 Romney announces that he supports spending $2 million of state money on flood control for the town.
  • Spent all or part of 212 days out of state, laying foundation for anticipated presidential campaign. The cost of the Governor’s security detail for out-of-state trips increased from $63,874 in fiscal year 2005 to a cost of $103,365 in the first 11 months of fiscal year 2006.
  • Massachusetts State Legislature overwhelmingly approves legislation signed by Romney July 14th to wrest control of the inspection of the Big Dig tunnel system from the Turnpike Authority.
  • The Department of Transportation began immediate inspections of the I-90 tunnel and pledged a “stem to stern” review of the entire Big Dig Tunnel System.
  • Romney worked with members of Congress from Massachusetts to request federal spending earmarks to benefit state transportation projects which included a safety review for the Big Dig as well as funds for local bridges and highway interchanges.

2007

  • Upon leaving office in January argued that he left the state with a large budget surplus, after he cut hundreds of millions of dollars of programs.
  • Upon taking office, successor Governor Deval Patrick said there would be a $1 billion deficit for fiscal 2008 if existing service levels were carried into the next year’s budget.
  • Patrick restored $384 million in “9C” spending cuts for fiscal 2007 that Romney made.
  • The budget for fiscal 2008 Patrick submitted in February 2007 included $515 million in spending cuts and $295 million in new corporate taxes.
  • Fiscal 2007 ended with a $307.1 million deficit and fiscal 2008 ended with a $495.2 million deficit.
  • The combined state and local tax burden in Massachusetts increased during Romney’s governorship but was below the national average.  
  • The state unemployment rate was 5.6 percent when Romney took office in January 2003. Rose to 6.0 percent in mid-2003, then steadily decreased during the remainder of Romney’s term, ending at 4.6 percent for January 2007.
  • Job growth increased at a 1.3 percent rate during Romney’s term. This ranked Massachusetts 47th out of 50 states during this period.
  • The first governor in modern Massachusetts history to deny every request for a pardon (100 requests, and 172 commutations) or commutation during his four years in office, including the request from a soldier serving in Iraq to be pardoned for a conviction at age 13 involving a BB gun.
  • As governor, Massachusetts’ per capita funding for public higher education decreased from $158 to $137, and in national rank, per capita state expenditures changed from 48th to 47th.
  • Vetoed a retroactive pay raise for unionized employees of state and community colleges.  
  • Romney issued 844 vetoes as governor the large share of which of which were overturned by one or the other of the state houses.[
 

 

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“THE FACTS” on Obama Presidency

2009

  • STIMULUS –  Passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to spur economic growth.  Since its passage, the private sector for 23 consecutive months has produced more jobs than it has lost.
  • AUTO INDUSTRY – $62 billion in federal dollars along with $13.4 billion loan during Bush administration kept auto industry from collapse. Since, the industry has added more than 100,000 jobs.
  • TORTURE POLICIES – Ended policy that allowed detainees in U.S. custody to undergo “enhanced” interrogation techniques considered inhumane under the Geneva Conventions.
  • PAY EQUALITY – Signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.  Gives women paid less than men for the same work, the right to sue their employers after they find out about the discrimination, even if the discrimination happened years ago.
  • NATIONAL SERVICE – Signed Serve America Act, authorizing tripling the size of AmeriCorps. Program grew 13 percent to 85,000 members across the country by 2012.
  • WILDERNESS AND WATERSHED PROTECTION – Signed Omnibus Public Lands Management Act (2009), designating  more than 2 million acres as wilderness, created thousands of miles of recreational and historic trails, and protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers.
  • FDA TOBACCO REGULATION – Signed Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Law mandates tobacco manufacturers disclose ingredients, obtain FDA approval for new tobacco products, and expand the size and prominence of cigarette warning labels.  Bans the sale of misleading labeled “light” cigarette brands and tobacco sponsorship of entertainment events.
  • CREDIT CARD REFORM – The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, prohibits credit card companies from raising rates without advance notification.  Mandates a grace period on interest rate increases, and strictly limits overdraft and other fees.
  • HATE CRIMES – Signed Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expands existing hate crime protections to include crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation, gender, or disability, in addition to race, color, religion, or national origin.
  • FEDERAL AGENCIES AND GREEN LEADERS – Signed executive order that requires all federal agencies to plan to soften their environmental impacts by 2020.
  • RENEWABLE TECHNOLOGY – In 2009 stimulus, invested $90 billion in research on smart grids, energy efficiency, electric cars, renewable electricity generation, cleaner coal, and biofuels.
  • MINORITY FARMERS – Claims Resolution Act provided $4.6 billion in funding for legal settlement with Black and Native American farmers who the government cheated out of loans and natural resource royalties in years past.
  • CARBON DIOXIDE –EPA declared carbon dioxide a pollutant, allowing the agency to regulate its production.
  • HEALTH COVERAGE FOR CHILDREN – 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Authorization Act allows the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover health care for 4 million more children, paid for by a tax increase on tobacco products.
  • STEM CELL – Eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research which shows promise in treating spinal injuries, among many other areas.
  • U.S. SUPREME COURT – Nominated and obtained confirmation for Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman to serve, in 2009.
  • INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CRISIS – Secured from G-20 nations $500 million for the IMF to provide lines of credit and support to emerging market countries keeping the world’s economy out of recession in 2009 and 2010.
  • BANKS – Treasury Department plan to bring private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” approved along with a public-private fund that bought banks “toxic” assets, allowing them to avoid collapse and get back on their feet at zero cost to the government.
  • RECOVERY.GOV – Web site by independent board of inspectors general looking for fraud and abuse in stimulus spending, provides public with detailed information on every contract funded by $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

2010

  • HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION RECONCILIATION ACT OF 2010 – Affordable Care Act is passed insuring that an additional 30 million Americans will have health insurance by 2014. 
  • WALL STREET REFORM – Mandates large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits banks ability to trade customers’ money, and created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to eliminate abusive lending products and companies.
  • STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM/PELL GRANT SPENDING – The 2010 health care bill also included provisions to end the practice of banks providing college loans. This will save $67 billion over ten years.  Students now get federal student loans directly from federal government.  $36 billion of savings goes to expand Pell Grants to low-income students. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 strengthened the Pell Grant program and provided investment in community colleges, historically black colleges and minority serving institutions and makes it easier for students to pay back college debt.
  • VETERANS – Increased 2010 Veteran Affairs budget 16% and 2011 10% for soldiers with serious physical/mental challenges returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Signed new GI bill providing $78 billion in tuition assistance and multiple tax credits to businesses who hire veterans. 
  • IRAN – Signed Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act punishing firms/individuals aiding Iran’s petroleum sector. With major Western powers imposed sanctions on Iran’s banks.  Pushed Japan, South Korea, and China to shift their oil purchases from Iran.
  • FAIR SENTENCING ACT – Signed legislation that reduces sentencing disparity between crack versus powder cocaine possession from 100 to1 to 18 to1.
  • TRIMMED AND REORIENTED MISSILE DEFENSE – Cut the Reagan “Star Wars” missile defense budget, saving $1.4 billion in 2010, and canceled plans to station antiballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of sea-based defense plan focused on Iran and North Korea.
  • SCHOOL NUTRITION – With Michelle Obama, signed Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 mandating $4.5 billion spending boost and higher nutritional and health standards for school lunches. New rules double the amount of fruits and vegetables and require only whole grains in food served to students.
  • U.S. SUPREME COURT – Nominated and obtained confirmation for Elena Kagan, the fourth woman to serve, in 2010.
  • START TREATY – Signed with Russia (2010) and won ratification in Congress (2011) of treaty limiting each nation to 1,550 strategic warheads (down from 2,200) and 700 launchers (down from more than 1,400), and reestablished and strengthened a monitoring and transparency program that lapsed in 2009, through which each country can monitor the other.
  • GULF OIL SPILL – Though lacking statutory power to compel British Petroleum (BP) to act, used moral authority of the office to convince BP to a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • RACE TO THE TOP – $4.35 billion in stimulus funds used to create competitive grants to encourage and reward states for education reform.
  •  NEXT-GENERATION SCHOOL TESTS – Devoted $330 million in stimulus money to pay consortia of states and universities to create competing versions of new K-12 student performance tests based on latest psychometric research. New tests could transform the learning environment in vast majority of public school classrooms beginning in 2014.

2011

  • OSAMA BIN LADEN – Special forces killed the 9/11 architect and head of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden.
  • IRAQI WAR – U.S. military forces removed from Iraq.
  • HOSNI MUBARAK – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s thirty-year rule ended on February 11, 2011
  • MOAMMAR GADHAFI – March 2011, US joined a coalition of European and Arab government’s military action to defend Libyan civilians from Gaddafi regime and forty-two-year rule.  No American lives were lost.
  • FUEL STANDARDS – Released 2011 fuel efficiency standards that nearly doubles the fuel economy of cars and trucks by 2025.
  • ASIA “PIVOT” – In 2011, shifted American military/diplomatic priorities and focus from the Middle East and Europe to the Asian-Pacific region. Executed strategy of positively engaging China while reasserting U.S. leadership in the region by increasing American military presence and crafting new commercial, diplomatic, and military alliances with neighboring countries made uncomfortable by recent Chinese behavior.
  • MINI STIMULI – To assist families hurt by the recession and spur economic growth extended to December 23, 2011 unemployment insurance and cut payroll taxes.
  • FOOD SAFETY – In 2011, signed FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  Increased FDA’s budget by $1.4 billion and expanded its regulatory responsibilities to increase number of food inspections, issue direct food recalls, and review food safety practices of countries importing products into America.
  • BAD FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES – To fight predatory practices of for-profit colleges, the Department of Education issued “gainful employment” regulations in 2011.  This cut off commercially focused schools from federal student aid funding if more than 35 percent of former students aren’t paying off their loans and/or if the average former student spends more than 12 percent of his or her total earnings servicing student loans.
  • BROADBAND COVERAGE – Obtained in 2011 Federal Communications Commission approval for a shift of $8 billion in subsidies from landlines to broadband Internet for lower-income rural families.
  • DIRTY POWER PLANTS – New EPA restrictions on mercury and toxic pollution, issued in December 2011 will likely close sixty-eight to 231 of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants and significantly reduce carbon emissions.
  • POST-9/11 MILITARY BUILDDOWN – With bipartisan support in summer 2011 reduced projected defense spending by $450 billion.  Proposed new DoD budget to shrink ground forces from 570,000 to 490,000 over the next ten years while increasing programs in intelligence gathering and cyber warfare.
  • SPACE SHUTTLE AND MOON MISSION – The expensive ($1 billion per launch) shuttle program made its final launch on July 8, 2011.  Cut funding for problem-plagued Constellation program to build moon base.  Supported private-sector low-earth orbit ventures, research on new rocket technologies for long-distance manned flight missions, and unmanned space exploration, including the largest interplanetary rover ever launched, which will investigate Mars’s potential to support life. 
  • NO SCANDAL – As of November 2011, served longer than any president in decades without a scandal, as measured by the appearance of the word “scandal” (or lack thereof) on the front page of the Washington Post.
  • “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL”: REPEALED – For the first time, gays/lesbians serve openly in the military.

2012

  • AMERICA’S IMAGE – Favorable opinion toward the United States rose in ten of fifteen countries by an average of 26 percent in poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.
  • AFGHANISTAN – U.S. forces are expected to complete combat mission by the end of 2013.
  • AFFORDABLE CARE ACT – Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote upholds the constitutionality of the ACA.

America Happy 236th Birthday

America, Happy 236th Birthday!  You don’t look a day over 200.  In your two hundred and thirty six year you have and always will be a great beacon of hope for your citizens and the world.

We are a nation of over 300 million.  Our growth as the growth in any family, has not come without some pain, without some suffering, and without some sacrifice.  We have debated major issues, some that really never made much sense.  Yet the pain, the suffering, the sacrifice and the debates have yielded great victories that make us, the great nation we are today.

Americans feel pride when we see our flag flown from the White House, around the Washington Monument, from embassies and at our nation’s major sports venues.  Your majestic colors have special significance we sometimes overlook.

Your white stripes recognize our nation’s founding in purity and innocence.  The “Old Glory Red” represents the “hardiness and valour” which you have fought for, and that which you fight to protect, be it American or for others.  And the blue, “Old Glory Blue” signifies your vigilance, perseverance and justice.

In a book published by the House of Representatives in 1977 about the flag, it is written that “the star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.

America, you have not always been kind to your citizens.  The framers of the US Constitution did not write words that freed the slaves, gave women equality or the right to vote, made segregation impossible, grant immigrant’s rights, or provide for health care for every American.  But it did leave the door open, for men and women to interpret the Constitution, and to right the ills that have at times plagued our country.

On your birthday America, I follow an excellent example of our founding father’s, of my parents and of God Almighty.  I embrace you as you have embraced me.  I wrap myself in our flag because I respect, appreciate and above all honor its significance.  The only thing that remains for our nation to do, is to recognize that as a nation we can do better, we can do more together, than we can apart.  The politics of division will only hurt us, and if not corrected, defeat us.  As President Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

At times the justices of our nation have helped to right our ship.  Chief Justice Warren when presiding over the Supreme Court felt he needed a unanimous decision on Brown vs. Board of Education.  When Muhammad Ali challenged the nation’s conscious and refused to be inducted into the US Army, it was a unanimous decision that vindicated him.  And recently, when some of the nation’s governors and those on the right, contested a law that would insure that every American have equal access to health care the court led by Chief Justice Roberts, by a narrow decision affirmed this right.  Often these decisions create debate, but they also unite us historically in ways the present cannot immediately teach us.

America your colors, our Declaration of Independence and US Constitution inspire the ideal of unity upon which our nation was created.  We are strongest together.  The days following 9/11 demonstrated the power of our unity.

So on your birthday, we come together as family and friends.  We come together as a nation to celebrate your birth.  We sing your song “America” with pride, we light our fireworks with excitement and celebration.  We revel in the idea that being an American is a birth given right, not all can share.

I thank you America.  I thank you for freedom.  I thank you for sacrifice.  I thank you for opportunity. Because all in all, good and bad there is no nation in the world, I would prefer to be a citizen than the land of the free, the home of the brave. America!