During Tuesday’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney continued to sell himself as a turnaround artist and savior of the economy—a former CEO whose stellar business acumen will create an abundance of jobs (12 million in four years, to be exact), champion small businesses, and improve the middle class.
But what Romney failed to mention is that when he inherited Massachusetts’ damaged economy in 2003, he was unable to spur the economic growth he had promised in his gubernatorial campaign. And it doesn’t stop at an unsuccessful economic policy. Many of the “accomplishments” that Romney touted last night, such as his education policies and his advocacy of women in the workplace, were futile as well. If we delve deeper into Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts and look past the lies he spouts, we can foreshadow what a Romney presidency would look like. And it’s not a very promising vision.
Last night at the debate, Romney promoted his five-point plan, alleging that he “knows why jobs come and go.” He claimed that he knew “what it takes to get this economy going.” But does he? Here is how Romney’s leadership played out in the Massachusetts economy from 2003 to 2007:
- In Romney’s four years as governor, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 in job growth. Jobs growth over that period was a pitiful 0.9 percent.
- Massachusetts only gained one percent in payroll jobs under Romney, compared to 5.3% in the nation as a whole.
- The net number of jobs added during the four years Romney was in office was 24,400 – a fraction of the total of about 200,000 lost during the recession.
- Manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts declined by more than 14 percent, the third worst record in the country. The loss was double the rate that the nation as a whole lost manufacturing jobs.
- Massachusetts infrastructure accrued a $20 billion deficit of overdue maintenance by the end of Romney’s term, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayer’s Foundation.
- Between 2003 and 2005 the median hourly wage for Massachusetts workers fell 5%–the largest decline in the country during that period.
- Under Romney, Massachusetts had the 3rd highest rate of domestic out-migration.
Though Romney assaults Obama’s economic record, job growth in the U.S. has been swifter under Obama than job growth in Massachusetts under Romney.
Romney also likes to flaunt the education policies he put in place in Massachusetts. Last night at the debate, he boasted about his John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, which he claimed would send the top quarter of each high school class to the Massachusetts college of their choice tuition-free. But this is not the full picture. Here is the reality of Romney’s education policies in Massachusetts, according to a report in the Boston Globe:
- Romney’s valued John and Abigail Adams Scholarships cover only tuition at state colleges, not fees , which account for more than 80 percent of yearly costs at some schools. Just a quarter of the recipients actually choose to attend state colleges.
- Massachusetts students regularly score at the top on national and international tests. But that achievement is largely due to the state’s 1993 landmark education reform law.
- Mitt Romney campaigned for governor in 2002 in favor of eradicating the nation’s first bilingual education law and instead immersing non-English speakers in classrooms where only English would be taught.
- In 2006, three years after the law Romney campaigned for went into effect, new state tests showed that 83 percent of students learning English as a second language in the third through twelfth grades could not read, write, speak or understand English well enough for regular classes after their first year in Massachusetts schools.
When asked about pay equity, Romney highlighted his efforts as governor of Massachusetts to hire women to work in his administration. However he does not have a history of appointing women to high-level positions in the private sector, nor did he appoint many women to judicial positions:
- Romney stacked his Judicial Nominating Commission with mostly white males. There were only four people of color and three women among the 17 JNC members.
- Of the 19 nominations made by Romney in 2005, 17 were men and only two were people of color.
Romney’s record in Massachusetts related to women’s health is also not very encouraging:
- Romney vetoed a bill to require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims.
- Romney vetoed $35,678 for early breast cancer detection and research.
- Romney vetoed $2.8 million for cervical and breast cancer treatment.
Romney is right that his record as governor of Massachusetts shows us a lot about how he would act as president. But he’s intentionally misleading voters about what that record is.