Much of the business community in Massachusetts was puzzled. Mitt Romney, a Republican with high-caliber corporate credentials, had run for governor pledging to sweep aside barriers to business and act as the state’s “top salesman.”
But just a few months after Mr. Romney took office in 2003, what he delivered seemed anything but friendly to the C.E.O. crowd: a bill to financial firms for what they saw as $110 million in new corporate taxes — and a promise of more to come. [...] For the next three years, the Romney administration relentlessly scoured the tax code for more loopholes, extracting hundreds of millions of corporate dollars to help close budget gaps in a state with a struggling economy.
It's the kind of thing that would have been a great selling point in a general election campaign, if he had stuck to it. But this is Mitt Romney, who doesn't stick to anything he says, and it all came to an abrupt end after he met a fellow by the name of Grover.
Grover Norquist, who has successfully pushed dozens of Republican lawmakers to sign no-tax pledges as the president of Americans for Tax Reform, assailed the plan as a threat to free society. He likened it to “crossing state lines to mug someone.”
Mr. Norquist’s voice was especially potent. By the end of Mr. Romney’s governorship, the two men had spoken twice about Mr. Romney’s future in national politics, making clear, Mr. Norquist said, that he was a likely Republican candidate for president.
Mr. Romney, who had previously seemed so immune to the pressure from the business lobby, suddenly reversed course.
After flip-flopping on his own tax plans, Romney then became the first Republican candidate to sign Norquist's tax pledge during the 2008 campaign. Norquist's reaction?
Mr. Norquist acknowledged that he had been deeply disappointed by Mr. Romney’s corporate tax overhaul. Unlike the governor, Mr. Norquist regards the changes as tax hikes.
“They changed the laws and the rules to significantly raise taxes,” he said. “That is a tax increase.”
But he is willing to look past it now. “The important thing,” Mr. Norquist said, “is that his stated position is that it won’t happen again.”
In other words, read Mitt's lips—no new taxes. Until and/or unless his stated position changes, that is.