Las Vegas Sun

October 7, 2015

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election 2012:

Line of Attack: Is it fair to label Romney as a tax- and fee-raiser?

Attack: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney raised fees and taxes as governor of Massachusetts.

Method of delivery: It came in a television ad and was emphasized in a Las Vegas news conference organized by Democrats last week that featured Nevadans — cosmetologists, gun owners, nurses — who would have been hit by the fee increases.

The Obama campaign TV ad begins with a grainy Romney in 2002 promising to cut taxes. Narrator: “As governor, Mitt Romney did cut taxes ... on millionaires like himself.”

The ad claims that Romney raised $1.5 billion in taxes and more than a thousand fees, ticking off a list in an increasingly rapid-fire voice.

Strategy: This is part of the effort to paint Romney as favoring the rich and having a disregard for the middle class. There’s no attack as universal as the suggestion that an opponent is a hypocrite.

Fairness meter: When Romney came into office, he faced a $3 billion budget hole, Romney’s former chief legal counsel Dan Winslow told the Sun. Romney told his cabinet to get to work — make cuts, find efficiencies and, yes, raise some fees.

He drew a line in the sand on taxes. The fees, though, were voluntary, Winslow said.

“People could choose not to have that service or be in the regulated entities,” he said.

Some of the fees hadn’t been adjusted for inflation in decades.

Sound way to run a state, maybe, but fees were raised. So that’s legit.

But the ad claims Romney also raised taxes to get that $1.5 billion.

That claim is dicier. Romney closed tax loopholes, Winslow said, and that’s also the citation in the backup provided by the Obama campaign.

Closing tax loopholes, such as those Democrats claim oil companies get, is different than a tax increase.

Given that, this line of attack gets an Eye Roll.

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