Ben Smith of Politico got a hold of records relating to Mitt Romney’s 2004 attempt to convince Standard and Poor’s to raise the credit rating of Massachusetts. Here’s how Romney tells it:
“When I was governor, S&P rewarded Massachusetts with a credit rating upgrade for our sound fiscal management and the underlying strength of our economy,” Romney boasted. “That didn’t happen by accident. The president’s failure to put the nation’s fiscal and economic house in order has caused a massive loss of confidence that resulted in an embarrassing downgrade.”
That’s right, it wasn’t an accident that S&P raised the commonwealth’s rating from AA- to AA. Romney pitched them on the idea. Key to his proposal? Tax revenues.
Romney, in his presentation to S&P, touted the growth of that [rainy-day] fund, and the combination of emergency spending cuts and new revenues he’d used to fill it.
Massachusetts “successfully managed revenue and expense positions” during a downturn in fiscal years 2002 and ’03, the presentation said. “The commonwealth acted decisively to address the fiscal crisis.”
The claims are followed by a chart indicating that the state stayed solvent as tax collections plunged: “July 2002 — Legislation to increase tax revenue” by more than $1 billion in each fiscal year; a tax amnesty; and “tax ‘loophole’ legislation” worth $269 million.
The document also noted that the fiscal 2004 budget “increased fees to raise $271 million yearly,” a move Romney’s critics denounced at the time as a stealth tax.
Tough to imagine today’s Republicans touting tax revenues as part of a sound fiscal policy. Almost as hard as imagining a Republican governor signing into law a health-care bill bearing a striking resemblance to the one Obama signed last year.
Update: Sarah Palin got S&P to bump Alaska’s rating by raising taxes–on oil companies, no less.