Where does Romney stand? Let's go to the replay

By The Fiscal Times Oct 31, 2012 2:06PM
By Josh BoakThe Fiscal Times logo

It’s no secret that Mitt Romney has embraced being a political chameleon by changing positions from the primaries debates on key issues.

President Obama has slammed him for a nebulous tax policy, but with little apparent impact as the Nov. 6 election draws closer and both candidates are even in national polls. In some instances, the former Massachusetts governor had to walk back comments—such as his claim that 47 percent of the country are takers who see themselves as victims—that he says were either taken out of context or expressed inelegantly.

The Fiscal Times examined how Romney has cast himself on five key issues, as part of a broader assessment that will include an analysis later this week of Obama’s unfulfilled promises. The transformations and subtle tweaks to Romney’s positions can be interpreted as evidence of a nuanced and flexible mind or, cynically, as pandering to different interest groups. But either way, even if you sometimes struggle to know just where Romney stands … you can at least see how he moves.

Romney stresses that he’s pro-life and will support those policies, but his past statements have blurred the degree of his commitment. The conventional wisdom holds that to win the election he must appease his more conservative supporters, while not alienating women voters whose backing could prove decisive.

Then: "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose," Romney said during a 2002 gubernatorial debate. "I am not going to change our pro-choice laws in Massachusetts in any way. I am not going to make any changes which would make it more difficult for a woman to make that choice herself.

Later: When asked at a 2007 GOP primary presidential debate about signing a law to ban all abortions, Romney said, "I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said, ‘We don't want to have abortion in this country at all, period. That would be wonderful. I'd be delighted.’"

Even Later: "I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother,” he wrote in National Review last year. “I support the reversal of Roe vs. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine."

Still Later: "There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda," he told the Des Moines Register editorial board on Oct. 9, 2012.
Now: "The actions I’ll take immediately is to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget,” Romney told reporters the day after his Oct. 9 comment. “And also I’ve indicated that I will reverse the Mexico City position of the president. I will reinstate the Mexico City policy which keeps us from using foreign aid for abortions overseas."

A government program to aid the millions of underwater homeowners carries the stigma of a bailout, even if refinancing mortgages or forgiving principal on home loans helped economic growth.

Romney initially favored letting the market—broken and leaning heavily on the government conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—run its course. His thinking has since evolved.

Then: "Don't try to stop the foreclosure process," Romney told the Las Vegas Review Journal last October.  "Let it run its course and hit the bottom."

Now: Romney backs the government selling off 200,000 foreclosed homes that it owns and providing current homeowners with “foreclosure alternatives,” but his website doesn’t spell out what those alternatives would be. “Now, there are also some things we have to do to make housing work right here in Nevada,” Romney said at a Sept. 21 rally in Las Vegas. “We have to reignite the housing economy here so that home values start going up again.”

In a bid to get support from voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and southwestern Pennsylvania, Obama and Romney have portrayed themselves as friends of coal. But both candidates have a rocky relationship with the fossil fuel.

For Obama, it’s the contradiction of new EPA regulations on coal-fired power plants with proud claims that coal industry employment has improved under his watch. But for Romney, it’s the inconsistency of a Massachusetts governor who claimed that a coal plant “kills” and a presidential candidate who hails the mines as sources of jobs.

Then: When the coal-burning Salem Harbor Power Station tried to delay its time for complying with Massachusetts emissions laws, a then-Gov. Romney stood outside the plant on Feb. 6, 2003 and said: "I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant -- that plant kills people."

Now: Romney visited Beallsville, Ohio on Aug. 14, 2012—surrounded by coal miners—and declared, “We’ve 250 years left of coal. Why in the world wouldn’t we use it?” according to The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

“We’re going to take advantage of our energy resources to save your jobs, create more jobs, and, by the way, when we use our plentiful energy resources, our inexpensive carbon-based resources, you’re going to see manufacturing come back to America,” he said.

As college tuitions surge, the amount of outstanding student loan debt has climbed past $1 trillion. Adding to the trouble was that interest rates were set to double on federally subsidized student loans, an increase that was averted by a compromise among Obama, House Republicans and Senate Democrats.

And within about a month, Romney went from telling current and prospective university students not to expect more government help on college to endorsing the $6 billion deal to keep Stafford loan interest rates at 3.4 percent for another year. He positioned his switch as a response to unemployment among recent college grads, even though the measure applied to students this academic year. Romney has since returned to promises that he would limit the government’s role in student lending.

The Republican nominee wants to re-introduce private firms into the federal student loan market, claiming the companies would lower default rates that are largely driven by unchecked debt loans and high unemployment.

Then: “It would be popular for me to stand up and say I’m going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that,” Romney said at a March 5, 2012 town hall in Youngstown, Ohio. “Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”

Later: “I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” Romney said at an April 23, 2012 news conference. “There was some concern that that would expire halfway through the year, and I support extending the temporary relief on interest rates for students as a result of student loans, obviously, in part because of the extraordinarily poor conditions in the job market.”

Now: By August, Romney was back to saying the government would not provide debt relief. “Now I know it is very tempting as a politician to go out and say, you know what, I’ll just give you some money,” he said Aug. 20, 2012 in Manchester, NH. “The government’s just going to give you some money and pay back your loans for you. I’m not going to tell you something that’s not the truth.

The most prominent recent piece of legislation on legal residency was the DREAM Act. It would grant permanent residency to the children of illegal immigrants who either serve in the military or pursue higher education. The bill failed to clear the 60-vote threshold for a Senate vote in 2010.

Romney has endorsed the somewhat murky policy of “self-deportation” and pledged an overhaul to streamline the immigration process, but he initially pledged to veto the DREAM Act. It’s an obstacle as he tries to bolster his support among Latinos. Then: “If I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it?” he said on Dec. 31, 2011 in Le Mars, Iowa. “And the answer is yes. I’m delighted with the idea that people who come to this country and wish to serve in the military can be given a path to become permanent residents in this country. Those who serve in our military and fulfill those requirements, I respect and acknowledge that path. For those that come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits I find to be the contrary to the idea of a nation of law. If I’m the president of the United States I want to end illegal immigration so that we can protect legal immigration.”

Romney tempered that stance at the Oct. 16 presidential debate, saying that military service was only a “for instance” of how those children could obtain residency—implying but not stating that other avenues were possible.

Now: “The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States and military service, for instance, is one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent resident.”

Josh Boak is a national correspondent at The Fiscal Times. Subscribe to The Fiscal Times' FREE newsletter.

More from The Fiscal Times:

Oct 31, 2012 8:37PM
If you don't like Romney's policies, wait 5 minutes, they'll change. His faith based recovery plan depends on your faith that he might mean what he says now if that's what you want to believe and if you don't believe him, he'll tell you something else. If you want to vote Romney Ryan and you're not a multi millionaire,my only question for you is: ARE YOU FEELING LUCKY PUNK????
Oct 31, 2012 3:50PM
You don't really have the space that it would take to fully nuance all the multi-various positions Robme has taken on these issues. Had he the time, I've no doubt that he'd find a few more stances to take in case he hasn't pandered to all the varied groups compromising the electorate. If he's elected, we shall see the greatest about-face in modern politics, because the folks who've bankrolled him will resume pulling on his marionette strings once again.
Oct 31, 2012 7:26PM

Romney said he wants to end corporate taxes,the death tax,and capital gains.Just who is going

to pay the taxes? Oh, I guess that would be the working class.By ending capital gains his

income just went up $3,000,000 a year.Now, that`s fair!Send jobs to China and save your-

self 3 mill.

Oct 31, 2012 4:48PM

What about taxes?

Romney's tax plan would eliminate taxes on capital gains, interest, and dividends

Also eliminate taxes on inheritance.

But, I will bet that those plans would exclude the tax elimination on 401K's and IRA's.

Also inheritance of a 401K or IRA would retain the same tax implications that they currently do

(the reciever of this inheritance would need to roll it over into their own IRA and pay taxes when they withdraw it, or pay taxes and penalty if they cash out, before they are 59 1/2.


Romney wants to push most taxes onto the middle class, while making the very rich tax free.


Nov 1, 2012 1:28PM
Top tax rates under Bush Jr.'s first term were higher than they are now.

The top bracket tax rates from 1932 THRU 1981 ranged from 94% to 63.13%.... 63.13% was the lowest top bracket rate through that entire span of time. The current top tax rate is at 35%, which it has been for YEARS and all through the Bush Jr. Wars, which is why we have a higher deficit. Now add in the offshore tax havens and investments, and the result is you have very wealthy people paying a lower effective rate than many middle class working Americans.

Don't cry about the deficit if you think wealthy people need more tax breaks. Don't cry about deficits if you support wars. Don't cry about deficits if you think offshoring jobs is a good idea.
Nov 1, 2012 10:57AM
Romney policies:

Immigration - self deportation

Taxes - the wealthy shouldn't pay taxes

Student Loans - ask your parents for money

FEMA - dissolve it and give all the power to the states. (But the states can't manage a statewide emergency without their infrastructure, so how does that work?)

Social Security - sorry you paid into it. Privatize it and let big money investors make more off of you. Sorry the market is volatile. BTW, Bain Capital still made money on companies that went bankrupt.

Regulations - repeal them

War - of course, and beef up the military. Dick Cheney needs a new heart.

Poor people - it's not my job to worry about those people.

Oct 31, 2012 10:21PM

WHERE ROMNEY STAND? LET'S SEE , I ASK MANY OF MY ASSOCIATES IF THEY KNOW WHAT YOUR PRESIDENTAL POLICIES ARE ABOUT, BUT THEY COULD NOT MENTIONED A SINGLE ONE,  AND STILL IN SEVEN DAYS YOU ARE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, WHAT A JOKE!  The big news today Oct 13, 2012, is that another Company in Illinois making sensors (SENSATA), for automobiles was closed a week ago, all personnel terminated ( FIRED), with no job because the Company presently owned by Bain Corporation decided to make a larger profit by outsourcing the Company! All equipment and assembly of sensors work is now quickly outsourced to China! This is the sickness that has been killing us, our economy, and our working force for the last fourteen years , as you know it all began with Bush, Mitt Romney and the Bain Corporation, and many other Large Corporations in the USA. We better stop outsourcing our work to other countries now or we will die as a powerful country! I can't believe we still have the courage to blame Obama for the problems of lack of jobs in our USA for the last four years. Just give the citizens a brake, and stop making more lies of why the economy does not make good progress, to include the perversity of Congress a snake nest of Tea Party, and Republican members opposing every Jobs Bills that Obama proposes.You need to know that from 2000 to 2008,the Bush years, 8.3 million service, and assembly jobs have been outsource to China, India, and Mexico! Mitt, you are a lost cause; you change your mind every time you get out of bed. You are very dangerous to the American people because we do not know for sure what you are going to do if accidentally you become president, with your liar side kick Ryan, you will take many position dealing in foreign policy, and will prove to be a killer for us, like Iraq and Afghanistan nightmare. Citizens wake up, vote for Obama president on November 6, 2012 or earlier!
Nov 1, 2012 9:56AM
Romney says it's fair for middle class workers with average income to pay a higher tax rate than the wealthy pay.

He cares so much about the middle class, he's unwilling to tell us which tax deductions he'll eliminate.
Nov 1, 2012 12:04PM
Romney does not stand for anything .....he hops from position to position telling his audience what he thinks they want to hear.

Women of America ---this is a man who endorsed a Senate candidate who thinks "BABIES FROM RAPE ARE PART OF GOD"S PLAN" .....

He does not even have the guts to distance himself from these remarks ...........

Nov 1, 2012 9:51AM
Romney doesn't know where Romney stands
Nov 1, 2012 10:03AM
Here's one thing Romney hasn't flip-flopped on:

"Corporations are people my friend."

What does that mean? He'd never propose or support the overturning of Citizens United.
Nope, keep that big money flowing in to buy laws and loopholes and sway elections.

Nov 1, 2012 12:11PM
Dear Donald Grump .....I have found the President's college transcripts and birth certificate.

I have left them for you in an ACME box at the bottom of the taxpayer subsidized luxury condo buildiing in NY.  

Don't worry about the big crane hanging over the edge of the roof ....

Meep Meep .....

Nov 1, 2012 12:08PM
I would like to see Romney's conception certificate ......since Repubs believe life begins at conception then if Mitt's Mexican Dad and his Mom got it on in Mexico then Mitt is a Mexican and cannot run for Pres.

Trump where are you?

Nov 1, 2012 1:36PM
News flash to all the idiots out there ! Only Congress has the power to tax and spend not POTUS. I take it none of the MITT WITTs ever read it ? < The US Constitution , try reading it you might learn a few things. AND BTW Where are all the jobs that the private sector like the Mitt Witt made ? I truly cannot find a single job Romney ever created ? The government does not create jobs the private sector does ! DUH....
Nov 1, 2012 10:11AM
Eventually Romney comes around to endorse Obama's policies, except he won't give the President any credit and wants to put his name on them.
Nov 1, 2012 9:49AM
flippity floppity flippity floppity flippity floppity fooo
Nov 1, 2012 11:09AM
het mitt, women change their mind all the time. is this how you won them back? you're a shoe in. lol.
Nov 1, 2012 10:13AM
Does not matter who wins; either way, the vast majority of US citizens loose. 2016 campaigning will begin Nov. 7th to insure no one beyond the "Big 2" (Dem/Rep) has a chance no matter how much better a choice they would be. Let the fund raising begin - the 2 billion spent on campaigns for a $400,000 job seems a little suspicious maybe?  
Nov 2, 2012 2:11PM

I guess we need more people on welfare as you people see it. obama has set another record there also and its still growing but you guys can just turn a blind eye to all those out of work

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