Willard (aka Mitt) Romney, sleazy budget salesman
As usual, Mitt lies
The day after the depressing midterm election results, I took a walk around Harvard Square to try to calm down, and chanced upon a comforting xeroxed message stapled to a telephone pole: "MITT LIES."
And does he ever. One of his more preposterous campaign claims was that he could find a billion dollars of waste in the state budget--so there would be no need to raise taxes to deal with the budget crisis. As I pointed out in "Dr. Mitt's Budget Revolution," it depends on your definition of "waste"--in businessman Mitt's case, that includes teachers, firefighters, reasonable state college tuition, and so on.
Anyway, in his Globe column today (The Return of Slick Willard, Scott Lehigh looks at a newer version of this lie:
Last week, when the governor went on prime time TV again to offer the broad contours of his budget-cutting plans, it was the Slickster, and not Mittster, who updated citizens on the administration's efforts to reform government.You've got that right. But the key thing is that the general public got the 2 billion dollar version on stage, and the retreat was a lot quieter. Again from Lehigh:
''First, waste and inefficiency,'' he said. ''When I ran for office, I said I'd find $1 billion. I was wrong. I'm proud to report that our team has found $2 billion.''
That claim occasioned a polite protest from House Speaker Thomas Finneran, who noted that no credible expert had suggested there was that much waste in the budget.
And once again, Romney beat a retreat.
''I'm not telling you that there's $2 billion in waste and inefficiency that I've found,'' he said two days later. Well, maybe mild-mannered Mitt hadn't. But Slick Willard had certainly left that very distinct impression.
Queried further about his claim on Monday, Romney said that in his speech he had offered a ''broad definition of waste and inefficiency.'' But a definition broad enough that it plunks raising fees together with cutting waste is so expansive it loses any categorical meaning.
Now, it may just be that Romney, through poor staff work or inept word-smithing, has made a couple of misstatements, then backed off the inaccuracies when they were brought to his attention.Let's just say I'm a skeptic.
And yet -- a skeptic might argue that what the new governor is really doing is indulging in dodgy, dishonest rhetoric when addressing a wide TV audience and conceding the truth only when the cameras are off. That tactic lets him use the airwaves to frame the fiscal fight in a way that maximizes populist pressures on lawmakers while acknowledging the truth only to the smaller audience that follows the details of state fiscal issues in the newspapers.