This is the story of two vetoes that Mitt Romney made during his final year as governor of Massachusetts that every American worker needs to know about. Anyone who wants to know how Mitt Romney actually governed as governor of Massachusetts, who the real Mitt Romney is, and who and what he really stands for needs to know this story.
As a nearly lifelong resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and as someone who has tried over the years to follow the political goings-on here in what we fondly refer to as "the Commonwealth" (which is not always an easy thing to do for us mere mortals of the citizenry of the Commonwealth to do), I have been following with great interest, as well as with a great deal of both bemusement and alarm, reports in the press and assertions by the punditry that attempt to divine and to relate to the people of rest of the United States how Mitt Romney actually went about governing my home state, and what that might mean for how he would go about governing the nation were he to prevail on November 6. Particularly bemusing and alarming to me are Mr. Romney's repeated assertions throughout the campaign that, as a Republican governor of a state whose legislature has long been overwhelmingly Democratic, he governed by reaching out in good faith across the aisle in order to do the people's work, and that, having done so as a governor, that is how he would go about governing the nation. With respect to that claim, however, the reality was that with one notable exception, which Mr. Romney now both takes pride in and disavows—that is, the enactment of "Romneycare"—his claim of having governed Massachusetts in that way—that is, in any kind of bipartisan fashion—is utter nonsense.
But the reality with respect to Mitt Romney the politician is much more alarming than his misrepresentation of the way in which he governed here in Massachusetts. Having closely followed and documented a legislative matter that took place during the last two years of Mitt Romney's term as governor, I am obligated to report that Mitt Romney was a key participant in what is probably the biggest government corruption scandal in Massachusetts history. And it is a scandal that, even though Mr. Romney has long since moved on from the governorship of Massachusetts, is as yet ongoing.
Now, I realize full well the skepticism with which my accusation of “CORRUPTION!” is likely to be met—indeed should be met—particularly when directed, as it is, against the very highest of government officials. And I acknowledge and fully accept the extraordinarily high burden of proof that necessarily must be met in order for me to prove my claim. Which is why I have documented this scandal in detail and posted my findings on the web for everyone to see and to judge for themselves.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Among the most important powers that a governor or the President is given is the power to veto legislation. When Mitt Romney made his first run for the presidency he ran a television ad in which he boasted, "I know how to veto. I like vetoes. I've vetoed hundreds of spending appropriations as governor." So, just how did Mr. Romney wield his veto power, and what might that reveal about his leadership qualities and his character?
In fact, Governor Romney issued more than 800 vetoes during his one and only term as governor of Massachusetts (which was his one and only term in public office). It turns out that most of those vetoes were for budget line items (which, of course, is a power that the President does not have). According to an analysis done by the Boston Globe in June 2007, in an article titled "Ambitious goals; shifting stances," of the 778 override votes taken by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Romney was overridden 775 times, or 99.6 percent of the time. The Senate overrode Romney 100 percent of the time, often by unanimous votes. According to the Globe, "Early in Romney's term, [the Senate Minority Leader Richard] Tisei and other Republicans generally stood by their governor. But later, they began to desert him with regularity, as Romney's vetoes seemed aimed in part at impressing Republicans outside the state." The speaker of the House at the end of Romney's term told the Globe with respect to overriding Romney's vetoes, ''You didn't even have to debate ..... Even the Republicans voted against him.'' According to the Globe’s analysis: “Of 283 budget veto overrides in 2006 [which was Romney's final year in office], Romney failed to attract a single Republican vote on 81 roll calls in the Senate and 60 in the House.” And if you look at the detailed legislative records, which are posted on the Massachusetts Legislature's website, you will find that even when the Senate override votes that year were not unanimous, there were many times when only one or two Republican senators supported Romney's veto (such as, for example, when then state senator and now Massachusetts' junior U.S. senator Scott Brown cast the only Senate votes to support Governor Romney's calls for reductions in the budget line items for the talking book library at the Worcester public library and the Braille and talking book library in Watertown).
During the current campaign, National Public Radio, in a broadcast piece titled "Romney As Governor: 800 Vetoes And One Big Deal," and the New York Times, in an article titled "Romney Claims of Bipartisanship as Governor Face Challenge," for example, have reported on Romney's veto record. If you read the Times article you will discover that Romney didn't merely "like" vetoes, as he boasted during his first run for the presidency, he really got a big kick out of them. The Times quotes Romney's director of legislative affairs as follows: “He seemed to take great delight in vetoing bills. Some of the bills we would chuckle when we wrote the veto message.” And for anyone who may not trust the "liberal press," go to the Massachusetts Legislature's website take a look at the records for yourself. No matter how you go about doing it, however, if you take a cold, hard look at Romney’s veto record as governor of Massachusetts, what it demonstrates is about as dysfunctional a relationship as a governor can possibly have with a legislature.
In fact, other than with respect to the process that led to the signature piece of legislation enacted during his tenure as governor, “An Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care”—aka “Romneycare”—which Romney signed into law in 2006, calling it at that time a “model for the nation,” and which has been of great benefit to the well-being of the people of Massachusetts, and which served as the model for the federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”—aka “Obamacare”—which Romney has promised to repeal if elected, the notion that Mitt Romney developed any kind of bipartisan rapport with the Massachusetts Legislature—indeed, even any kind of real rapport with the legislators of his own party—is a complete myth.
And for those who might suggest that the real problem was with the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature not wanting to work with him, it must be noted that Romney’s three predecessors were Republicans as well, and they were also faced with having to work with overwhelmingly Democratic legislatures if they hoped to further their agendas in any way; and all of them managed to cultivate at least a somewhat bipartisan relationship with the Legislature. But not only did Mitt Romney not act in a bipartisan fashion, by the end of his term as governor of Massachusetts he couldn't even legitimately be considered to be unipartisan. I know, that's not a real word; but when it comes to Mitt Romney's pronouncements about how he governed Massachusetts in a bipartisan fashion there is little reality to be found. The man was simply out for himself and to further his own political ambitions.
But there are two vetoes that Mitt Romney made in 2006, his last year in office, that reveal more than anything else he did as governor the man's true character, who he really is, how he really behaved as a government official, and who and what he really stands for. The first veto was cynical and pathetic; the second was cynical, pathetic, and corrupt. And it is the story of those two vetoes that I would like to bring to the attention of the American people.
The first of the two vetoes took place during July of 2006. It was during that month that the Massachusetts Legislature enacted by unanimous roll call votes in both the House and Senate a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage. The bill called for the minimum wage to be increased from $6.75 per hour to $7.50, effective January 1, 2007, and from $7.50 to $8.00, effective January 1, 2008. The proposal to increase the state's minimum wage had been on the table since January 2005, and the amounts of the increases and the decision to phase them in over two years had been the result of a great deal of discussion in the public arena and a great deal of bipartisan debate and negotiation between the two chambers of the Legislature. And in the end support for the bill was not merely bipartisan, it was unanimous.
According to the Massachusetts Legislature's rules all formal business of each two-year session of the Legislature, which begins in January of every odd-numbered year, must be concluded on July 31 of the second annual session. Which means that July of every even-numbered year is invariably a very busy time for the Massachusetts Legislature. And, of course, Mitt Romney was well aware of all of this.
The unanimously-enacted minimum wage increase bill was sent to Governor Romney on July 12, 2006. According to the Massachusetts Constitution, the governor has ten days from when a bill is presented to him to either 1) sign it into law; 2) recommend an amendment to it; 3) veto it, in which case the bill can become law only if two-thirds of the members of both chambers of the Legislature vote to override the veto; or 4) refuse to sign it, in which case the bill becomes law without the governor's approval, provided that the bill was enacted while the Legislature was in formal session.
On July 21, Governor Romney returned the bill to the Legislature recommending that it be amended by limiting the increase to $7.00 per hour, effective January 1, 2007. In his letter proposing the amendment, Romney told the Legislature that the bill's “abrupt and disproportionate increases would threaten to eliminate jobs in Massachusetts, especially at the entry level.”
On July 25, the Legislature rejected Romney’s amendment and reenacted the bill, again by unanimous roll call votes by both chambers.
On July 28, with the last day for the Legislature to conclude its formal business for the year quickly drawing near and with many items still on its agenda to be dealt with before the deadline, Romney vetoed the bill, in spite of the fact that it had been enacted unanimously by both chambers and his veto would obviously be overridden. In his veto message Romney used the word "excessive" to describe the Legislature’s increases.
The veto forced the Legislature to take yet another vote in order to reenact the bill, which it did on July 31, the last day of its formal sessions for 2006. The override votes in both chambers were, again, unanimous. In the end, the man who would be President of the United States, the man who touts himself as a leader, the man who would bring a deeply divided Congress together to solve the nation's problems, could not convince even a single legislator from his own party to support his position on such an important issue.
So let's put aside any good faith examination of what would have been most prudent in terms of the amount of the increase in the Massachusetts minimum wage at that time and simply look at Romney's behavior as a "leader" with respect to the legislative process. Because even the most petulant child would have realized that the bill was going to pass, the only real purposes behind Romney’s amendment and veto were for him to force the Legislature to expend that much more time and effort to enact the bill, and to have to do so during its busiest time, and for him to impress certain constituencies outside of the state, where his real attention had actually been focused during the last two years of his term as governor. In the final analysis, the amendment and veto were nothing more than petty and vindictive pokes in the Massachusetts Legislature’s collective eye by a governor who had by his own behavior rendered himself powerless as he was about to head out the door of the Massachusetts State House, having already begun his quest for far greater power, the power that he seeks today. And the pawns in Romney’s game were his state’s lowest-paid and most vulnerable workers. One could not be faulted for wondering, in light of his "I like vetoes" boast to the nation in 2007 and his legislative affairs director's comments to the New York Times, how much "delight" Governor Romney took in issuing that veto and how much of a "chuckle" he had while writing the veto message.
Of course, it's no small irony that anyone who might even suggest that Mitt Romney’s income, as opposed to the income of those making $8.00 per hour, is “disproportionate” or “excessive” does so at the risk of being loudly branded a class warrior (or worse). But couldn’t he, a man who makes $20 million, or so, a year off of his investments, knowing that the bill was going to become law anyway, have, if for no other reason than to show some basic human decency, just signed the bill into law, or, at the very least, allowed it to become law without his signature, so that, at the very least, the Legislature would not have had to conduct yet another set of roll call votes on the bill? Is this really the kind of person or the kind of "leader" that Americans want to be their president?
But there's more.
Now, Mitt Romney's veto of the minimum wage bill was certainly not corrupt in any way. Cynical, calculating, petty, vindictive, pathetic—yes; corrupt—no. But in September 2006 Mitt Romney crossed the line into corruption when he vetoed the bill that had been designated as House Bill No. 4663, "An Act to Clarify the Law Protecting Employee Compensation." The story behind that bill and Romney's veto of it is such a tangled web of extraordinary betrayal, corruption, and deceit that it defies proper explanation in just a few paragraphs. I have, therefore, documented the story in a freely available web book titled "Corruption in the Commonwealth." I know there isn't much time left until the election, but I hope as many of my fellow Americans as possible will read the book and tell others the story. Because what you will find is that by virtue of his veto of House Bill No. 4663 of 2006, Mitt Romney committed the ultimate betrayal of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and rendered himself as corrupt a governor as Massachusetts has ever had.
Don't be fooled by the propaganda, by the fog of the campaign imagery and rhetoric, by the cynical machinations of a cynical, mendacious, and, ultimately, corrupt politician positioning himself (shaking the "Etch-a-Sketch" is how one of his handlers has described it) to gain power. If you are a working person don't be fooled into believing that Mitt Romney cares a whit about you (other than as a "factor of production" that will allow him and his ilk to make even more money off of your exertions). If you work for wages for a living—whether in a union or a nonunion job—no matter your age, the color of your skin (or the color of your shirt collar), your ethnic background, your gender, your sexual orientation, your religious or moral beliefs, or your level of education—or if you rely upon someone who works for wages to support you—and you know what Mitt Romney did as governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts when he vetoed the minimum wage bill and House Bill No. 4663 of 2006, you would have to be out of your mind to vote for the man for any public office, never mind President of the United States.