Thu Mar 22, 2012, 08:03 AM
deminks (8,326 posts)
When Romney Liked High Gas Prices
As he campaigns for president, Mitt Romney is ratcheting up his attacks on Barack Obama over high gas prices, putting the issue at the center of his economic message. He is calling for Obama to fire his Energy secretary, EPA administrator, and Interior secretary, saying they are to blame for high prices at the pump. “No question in my mind that these—I call them the gas-hike trio—that those three are on a mission to drive up the price of gasoline and all energy so that they can finally get their solar and their wind to be more price-competitive. That’s what they want to do,” Romney said on Monday
Curiously overlooked, though, is just what a shift this rhetoric is from the approach that Romney took on the issue of gas prices while governor of Massachusetts. Befitting his profile as a moderate Republican who cared about the environment, Governor Romney responded to price spikes by describing them as the natural result of global market pressures and by calling for increases in fuel efficiency—the same approach that he now derides Obama for taking as president.
But at other times, he was fearless about pushing policies that would increase prices at the pump. Just a few months into his first term in 2003, his administration pushed for expanding a fee on wholesale fuel deliveries that resulted in a two-cent per-gallon price increase at the pump. The fee went toward a state fund that paid for cleaning spills and leaks at gas stations and had been running low. The board that oversaw the fund had sought approval from Romney’s predecessor, Republican Jane Swift, to double the fee from an effective half-cent per gallon to a full cent per gallon. But when Romney came into office, his administration proposed quintupling the effective rate, to 2.5 cents per gallon.
The administration’s argument was that the higher increase would put the fund on solid footing for good, recalled Stephen Dodge, associate director of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Petroleum Council, who sat on the board overseeing the fund. But shortly afterward, the administration moved to consolidate the fund, and many other small dedicated accounts, into the state’s general fund to help close a $3 billion state budget deficit. This, Dodge said, undermined the administration’s claim that the increase, which raised $60 million, was merely a fee adjustment and not a bona fide tax hike. “The fee really did become a tax because it wasn’t used for what it was intended for,” Dodge said.
More Sketch-A-Mitt. And a great big uh-oh, 'cause ole Mittens raised (gasp) taxes.
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