12/28/2011 05:39 am ET | Updated Dec 28, 2011

Mitt Romney's Flip Flops, Finances Criticized By DNC Ahead Of Iowa Caucuses

The Democratic National Committee's Iowa surrogates have sent out some strong talking points with which they intend to go after Mitt Romney during the former Massachusetts governor's trip to Iowa this week.

The memo (full text below) from DNC Vice Chair and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback and from Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky hits Romney for trying to win Iowa without campaigning full-time in the state, calling it an attempt "to buy his way to victory without having to face hardworking Iowans."

Ryback and Dvorsky also point out that Romney's decision not to release his tax returns is a break from past precedent for many Republican presidential candidates, including Romney's own father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney.

Perhaps more potently, the DNC goes after Romney for earning money from his time in private equity at a capital gains rate, which has been much lower at 15 percent than the 25 percent federal tax that many middle-class Americans pay on their income.

"Mitt Romney -- a millionaire 200 times over -– pays a lower tax rate than many teachers, firefighters, police officers and other hardworking folks in Iowa and across the country," the memo says. "Is this Mitt Romney's idea of helping the middle class?"

Read the full memo:

With less than a week to go until the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd, Mitt Romney has returned to the state to make his closing arguments to Iowa voters. Just yesterday, Romney gave a speech to Iowans in Davenport -- but rather than offering a plan to restore economic security for the middle class, Romney made it clear he would settle for an economy where fewer Americans succeed regardless of how hard they work.

After a year of pretending he wasn't competing here, Romney continues to try to downplay expectations for his performance in the Hawkeye State next week. But the reality is that in the month of December alone, Mitt Romney's campaign and the Super PAC supporting his candidacy spent $4 million in Iowa -- clearly, Romney is now all in to win in Iowa. But don't take it from us that Romney has gone all in -- when recently asked about the campaign's strategy for Iowa, Romney's own spokeswoman Gail Gitcho simply said, "Our strategy is to win there."

Mitt Romney's goal is clear: he is trying to buy his way to victory without having to face hardworking Iowans and tell them the honest truth about his failed agenda. Romney knows that if Iowa's middle-class families had a real chance to kick the tires and check under the hood, they would not like what they had to see: a 17-year political career of waffling on the issues and decisions that have left the middle class behind, his continued support of policies that threaten our economic recovery, and a concerted effort to rewrite history so that working families in Iowa and across the country don't realize how truly out-of-touch Mitt Romney is.


As we've seen recently, Mitt Romney is eager to mischaracterize the President's vision as creating an "Entitlement Society." The reality is that the only entitlement President Obama believes in is an America where folks who work hard and play by the rules can get ahead. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney -– a former corporate buyout specialist for Bain Capital who made a fortune firing thousands of workers, cutting benefits, bankrupting American companies and outsourcing jobs overseas -- now supports an economic plan that would roll back financial reform and let Wall Street write its own rules again.

In doing so, Romney is doubling down on the same failed policies that caused the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and rewarded the recklessness of a few, while millions of small businesses and workers here in Iowa and across the country -- whose wages have not reflected their hard work for decades -- were left to clean up the mess. Here's how:

  • Rather than making it necessary for insurance companies to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions and provide coverage when people get sick, as the President has done, Mitt Romney wants to roll back those protections.
  • While President Obama has been fighting to require banks and credit card companies to be transparent about rates, fees and terms and is working to police the predatory behavior of mortgage and payday lenders with a consumer watchdog, Romney has said he would prefer that we kill those protections.
  • When the President made the tough decision to extend a loan to the auto industry to save more than 1.4 million jobs, because he believes in an America that supports U.S. manufacturing and builds the things the rest of the world buys, Mitt Romney simply argued that we should "let Detroit go bankrupt."
  • Romney has refused every step of the way to support policies that help reduce the deficit with a fair, balanced and responsible approach that asks millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share -– instead, he supports a Republican budget plan in Congress that would end Medicare as we know it, lead to deep cuts in Social Security and wipe out investments in education and programs essential to creating jobs for the middle class.

Mitt Romney was recently quoted as saying, "The real objective of anyone running for president in this cycle has to be to help the middle class." But his own economic plan would extend massive tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires and large corporations while offering only $54 to the typical working family earning $40,000. When push comes to shove, Romney's economic vision could not be more out of touch with the needs of working folks here in Iowa and across the country.


While Mitt Romney's lack of vision in restoring economic security for the middle class is enough to send Iowa voters running in the other direction, what is perhaps even more disturbing is Romney's shameless waffling on the issues -- not to mention his constant efforts to rewrite history.

One of Romney's most recent ads, for instance, makes the claim that Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, was a budget-slasher. In reality, as governor, Mitt Romney balanced the state budget on the backs of the middle class by raising fees on Massachusetts residents more than 100 times. And it is estimated that in total, Romney raised taxes and fees by $750 million annually on the state's working families and businesses.

Romney has also flip-flopped on any number of issues facing our country, including gun rights. In his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy, he said, "I don't line up with the NRA," and until he first ran for president in 2007, Romney had a clear record of increasing fees on gun owners and supporting strict gun control laws -- including a ban on assault weapons. But then as he first ran for president, Romney attempted to reinvent his position on the issue -- falsely claiming he owned a gun and that he had been endorsed by the NRA in his run for governor.

With regard to abortion, Mitt Romney recently supported the so-called "Personhood" Amendment similar to the ballot initiative in Mississippi, which would have restricted a woman's right to choose even in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother. He also says he supports overturning Roe v. Wade and defunding Planned Parenthood. That's a very far cry from the official positions he took during his run for Massachusetts governor in 2002, when he courted endorsements from pro-choice groups and said "yes" to Planned Parenthood on supporting Roe v. Wade, "yes" to supporting state funding of abortions and "yes" to supporting increased access to emergency contraceptives.

Mitt Romney has also changed his position on immigration. Previously, Romney supported John McCain and Ted Kennedy's 2007 efforts to pass immigration reform, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for those who entered the country illegally. But now that he's running for office, he has the most extreme views on immigration of any presidential candidate in recent memory -- saying that we should throw out undocumented veterans and split up families who have been here for decades.

The list of Romney's episodes of political pandering goes on -- he recently attacked the President for supporting the idea of an "entitlement society," but as Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney actually went as far as creating a program that handed out free cars to welfare recipients in the state. The program may have been a reasonable way to help move deserving citizens from welfare to work -- but Romney can't have it both ways, supporting progressive initiatives as governor and then railing on them as a candidate for president. It becomes clearer by the day that Mitt Romney will say and do anything to get elected -- and that includes trying to cover up previous moderate-to-liberal positions that he took as a Massachusetts politician because he doesn't want Iowans to know the truth about his record.


Mitt Romney has continued to refuse to release his income tax returns, defying a practice that every Republican and Democratic nominee has adhered to for decades. Previous presidential candidates -– including Romney's own father when he ran for president in 1968 -- have released their tax returns so that Americans could know about potential conflicts of interest and gauge whether a candidate had taken advantage of the tax system. Mitt Romney ought to live up to the same standard of disclosure.

What is Mitt Romney hiding? Well, for starters, Romney may not want voters to know that he profited from investments in Chinese companies -- investments worth as much as $1.5 million that Romney's financial advisers sold at some point after mid-August, right around the time that Romney made confronting China on trade a central plank of his economic platform.

But Romney is probably also trying to avoid having middle-class Americans find out that he likely pays taxes at a lower rate than they do. During his years as a corporate-buyout specialist, Mitt Romney made millions of dollars from investments that are taxed at a far lower rate than the wages of regular Americans. In other words, Mitt Romney -– a millionaire 200 times over -- pays a lower tax rate than many teachers, firefighters, police officers and other hardworking folks in Iowa and across the country. Is this Mitt Romney's idea of helping the middle class?


As Iowa voters prepare to caucus next week, it's not hard to see why they still may be harboring doubts about who Mitt Romney really is. After all, throughout the course of his political career, Romney has been taking reckless positions and supporting failed policies that demonstrate he could not be more out-of-touch when it comes to understanding what it takes for middle-class families to survive in America. So while Romney may try to use his personal fortune and massive war chest to keep hardworking folks from learning the truth about his record and his continued lack of vision for helping the middle class get ahead, ultimately it will be up to voters in Iowa and across America to decide what lies beneath the surface of Mitt Romney's candidacy.