The Boston Phoenix says it’s time voters got to know who Mitt Romney really is. They lambast him for his end run around campaign-finance laws to bankroll state GOP candidates, calling it “an unprecedented intrusion of special-interest money into local political races that are normally decided on local issues.” Read on:
Last week Romney vetoed $32 million in retroactive salary increases for 13,000 higher-education employees — including some 2000 or so UMass employees who mostly perform low-paid, underappreciated work such as maintenance, groundskeeping, and clerical support. On the Boston campus, where incomes are the lowest, these blue- and pink-collar workers earn, on average, between $31,000 and $32,000 a year. Some make as little as $24,000. The back pay — to which they are entitled by contract, but which Romney refuses to pay — would mean an average of $1600 apiece for these workers.
With the state currently running a surplus of some $700 million, Romney would rather score cheap political points by cutting the state income tax from 5.3 percent to five percent than fulfill his obligations to those employees. Never mind that cutting the income tax would blow a hole in the state budget, which is just beginning to recover from a fiscal crisis of several years’ standing.
The symbolism is as bad as the substance. UMass is an institution that educates the children of the poor — working and otherwise — as well the lower rungs of the middle class, who are either hard-pressed or unable to afford the much-higher tuitions at private schools. Romney is sticking it to the workers who make it possible for UMass to function in a very concrete and even physical way, thereby showing his indifference not just to the workers themselves, but his lack of sympathy — even outright hostility — to the broader public UMass is designed to serve.
[…] As if Romney’s treatment of UMass’s clerical and maintenance workers weren’t sufficient proof that his stance as a reformer is a fraud, consider the corporate contributions he has been soliciting as part of his effort to elect more Republicans to the legislature. Recently, the Phoenix’s David S. Bernstein reported that the Massachusetts Republican State Congressional Committee had raised nearly $2.7 million for the current election cycle, at least $720,000 of which came from contributors who work for venture-capital and other investment firms (see “Campaign Contributions,” This Just In, July 9). At least 39 employees of Fidelity Investments gave a reported $81,000. Employees of Romney’s former venture-capital outfit, Bain, contributed heavily as well. Though the money is supposed to be used for federal campaigns, it will likely be spent on support services for legislative races — allowing contributors to escape the much-stricter contribution limits set by state law.