In the Meredith Wilson musical "The Music Man," a small Iowan town faces the sinister wiles of a big city con man, Harold Hill. In introducing themselves, they sing, "We could stand touchin' noses / For a week at a time / And never see eye-to-eye. But what the heck, you're welcome, / Join us at the picnic. You can eat your fill / Of all the food you bring yourself."
By the end of Act Two, Hill has suckered these poor rubes into buying into his scheme. He's done it by pretending to be one of them, by warning them of the evils of big city ways and by speaking on behalf of their innocent children.
These days, Harold Hill goes by a different name: Mitt Romney.
Throughout the Republican debates, Romney has somehow suckered much of the conservative world into believing that he is a solid fiscal, social and foreign policy conservative. He says many of the right things -- though he looks supremely uncomfortable saying them -- and this has been enough to send the GOP establishment, which loves a blue state Republican, into spasms of ecstasy.
But as my dad told me when I was 10 years old: Don't watch what people say, watch what they do. And what Mitt Romney did when he had power in Massachusetts wasn't just non-conservative -- it was all out liberal. Let's leave aside, for the moment, the fact that he tried to run to Teddy Kennedy's left in 1994 on major issues including gay rights; let's leave aside the fact that he disowned Ronald Reagan during that same run. Let's just focus on what Romney did as governor of a major state from 2003-2007, with particular emphasis on the tasks he'd be performing as president of the United States.
First off, he raised taxes. He called these fees, but Romney's push for a balanced budget meant that he proposed raising tuition at state schools; he raised fees for buying a home; jacked up fees to receive a certificate of blindness (that's right, he tried to place a stumbling fee in front of the blind); raised corporate taxes; tried to raise fees for driver's licenses, marriage licenses and gun licenses; and increased a special gasoline fee. Romney may now take a harsh anti-tax stance -- but when he faces deficits that dwarf what he faced in Massachusetts, why wouldn't he apply the same solutions he did then?
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