The Romney “Reach Across the Aisle” Claim

Governor Romney claimed in the debate Wednesday night to have reached across the aisle to Democrats when he was governor of Massachusetts, in contrast to President Obama’s stiff-arming the GOP (was the implication.) Obama didn’t have a come-back for that, as he didn’t for much that evening, but the reality of  the Romney Reach stops short of actually existing.


On close scrutiny, some of the bipartisan successes that Mr. Romney claimed in the Wednesday debate turn out to by peppered with asterisks.

On education, Mr. Romney was correct in stating that Massachusetts students were ranked first in the nation during his tenure. Students in grades four and eight took top honors in reading and mathematics on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

However, educators largely credit an overarching reform of state schools 10 years earlier under Governor Weld. The reforms doubled state spending on schools and brought standards and accountability to administrators and students.

“Governor Romney does not get to take the credit for achieving that No. 1 ranking,” said Mike Gilbert, field director for the nonprofit Massachusetts Association of School Committees, “but it did happen while he was in office.”

Mr. Romney’s claim that he was responsible for 19 separate tax cuts is also technically accurate, but not the full story. In 2005, for example, Mr. Romney’s administration wrote legislation refunding $250 million in capital gains taxes — but the bill came only in response to a court ruling that the taxes had been illegally withheld in 2002.

See much more with Michael Wines

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