NASHUA, N.H. — President Obama today delivered his final pitch to voters in the Live Free or Die state, accusing rival Mitt Romney of being untrustworthy, and slamming his record of “cradle to grave tax hikes and fees” as governor of neighboring Massachusetts.
“During Gov. Romney’s campaign for governor down there, he promised the same thing he’s promising now, said he’d fight for jobs and middle class families,” Obama said. “But once he took office, he pushed through a tax cut that overwhelmingly benefited 278 of the wealthiest families in the state and then he raised taxes and fees on middle class families to the tune of $750 million. Does that sound familiar to you?
“There were higher fees to be a borrower, higher fees to become a nurse. There were higher fees for gas, there were higher fees for milk, there were higher fees for blind people to get a certificate that they were blind,” Obama said.
“He even raised fees to get a birth certificate — which would have been expensive for me,” he joked, alluding to the conspiracy theories about the authenticity of his own birth record.
“He raised fees for marriage certificates and fees for funeral homes,” Obama continued. “So there were literally cradle to grave tax hikes and fees.”
A study by the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures found that in 2003, the first year of Romney’s tenure in Massachusetts, the state imposed roughly $500 million in higher fees, more than any other state. Mortgage-recording fees increased from $36 to $158; driving permits increased from $15 to $30; and marriage licenses went from $4 to $50, the study found.
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimated that new fees and loophole closures raised $750 million per year between 2003 and 2007. Romney did not approve any formal tax increases, contrary to Obama’s suggestion, though his critics argue there is little difference between fee hikes and taxes.
In a new web ad released in conjunction with the speech, the Obama campaign playfully lists roughly half of the more than 1,000 fees raised or created under Gov. Romney. The campaign also created a website to publish all of the increases, which Democrats argue hit the middle class hardest.
Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams called Obama’s line of attack “laughable.”
“As governor, Mitt Romney worked with Democrats to close a $3 billion deficit, balance four budgets while cutting taxes 19 times, create tens of thousands of new jobs, and lower the Massachusetts unemployment rate to 4.7 percent,” he said.
While Obama did not mention the net job gains or lower unemployment rate under Romney’s tenure, he did take aim at the record of job creation vis a vis other states in the country.
“When he left office, there were only three states in the country that had created fewer jobs than Massachusetts,” Obama said. “And by the way, one of them was Louisiana that had been hit by Hurricane Katrina. He talked a lot about small businesses, but Massachusetts when he was governor ranked 48th in small business creation, and one of the two states that ranked lower was Louisiana.”
“So this is a guy who has a track record of saying one thing and doing something else,” Obama concluded.
The event marked Obama’s sixth visit to New Hampshire this year. State campaign officials told ABC News this is his last visit here before the Nov. 6 election.