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Club for Growth: 'Serious concerns' about Romney

Anti-tax organization Club for Growth – declared foe of government spenders and ‘establishment’ Republicans -- has released its policy white paper on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, offering a bleak assessment of the perceived GOP frontrunner’s record on taxes and regulation.

The group’s report takes Romney to task for his “unshakeable reputation as a flip-flopper,” with Club for Growth president Chris Chocola concluding that the organization has “serious concerns over his governing philosophy.”

“To this day, Romney supports big government solutions to health care and opposes pro-growth tax code reform – positions that are simply opposite to those supported by true economic conservatives,” the report reads.

The harsh assessment of Romney’s record stems largely from his failure to disavow the Massachusetts health care plan he signed into law in 2006.

“Empirical evidence demonstrates that RomneyCare has failed to control health care costs, increased the size of government, and by its very nature introduced more government and less freedom into health care markets,” the Club wrote in its report. “Governor Romney should admit that RomneyCare is a failure, and soon.”

While the group has never been friendly to many of the underlying principles of Romney’s 2006 plan – including the individual and employer mandates particularly despised by libertarian-leaning Republicans --  the scathing language in the latest report shows how damaging the former governor’s continued defense (and President Barack Obama’s embrace) of the plan has been since Romney’s last run for president.

Consider the comparatively more sympathetic interpretation in the Club’s 2007 assessment of Romney’s health care law.

“Most of the blame for the deficiencies in the Massachusetts plan lies with the liberal Legislature which, absent the resistance of Governor Romney, almost certainly would have enacted a major tax increase while moving healthcare reform in the worst possible direction,”  the group wrote then, noting that Romney unsuccessfully attempted to veto the requirement that businesses with 11 or more full-time employees provide health insurance.

"Governor Romney tried to deregulate the overregulated healthcare insurance coverage," the report added. "Many of his efforts were rebuffed by the Legislature, but he did make some progress."

The 2007 report concluded of Romney:

“His landmark steps in the healthcare arena also exhibit a mixture of desirable pro-free market efforts combined with a regrettable willingness to accept, if not embrace, a massive new regulatory regime. Nevertheless, given his outstanding private sector entrepreneurial experience; the strong pro-growth positions he has taken on the campaign trail; his overall record as governor; and the fact that the U.S. Congress will not be as liberal as the Massachusetts Legislature, we are reasonably optimistic that, as President, Mitt Romney would generally advocate a pro-growth agenda.”