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Emails reveal Mitt's embrace of health care mandate

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Maybe David Axelrod flew to Boston a week too early.

The Wall Street Journal checks in today with what it bills as the most complete inside look at Mitt Romney’s pro-health care mandate activism on Beacon Hill. The newspaper found a way around Romney’s January 2007 data purge, which saw the governor’s top aides take possession of their computer hard drives, and the replacement of the administration’s email server.

The Journal discovered the emails of one aide, former administration and finance secretary Tom Trimarco, had been retained. The paper used Trimarco’s emails to build an insider’s portrait of then-Gov. Romney cajoling recalcitrant Democratic lawmakers into accepting a hard mandate requiring Massachusetts residents to purchase health care insurance.

Back then, the mandate was solid free market conservatism, and health care reform was Romney’s defining moment; now, of course, it’s socialism run amok.

As Romney chases the presidency, he’s constantly having his Massachusetts record, and the awfully moderate things he had to say to get elected governor here, thrown back in his beautiful, severely conservative face. The Journal’s cache of emails provide new fodder.

The emails show Romney personally drafting a Journal op-ed column that ran the day before he hugged Sal, Trav and Ted Kennedy at that famous Faneuil Hall bill signing. In the op-ed, Romney used the same argument the Obama administration has used in justifying the legality and propriety of a health care insurance mandate: “Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian.” In an early draft of Romney’s column, he struck an even harder line against Let-Him-Die-ism: “An uninsured libertarian might counter that he could refuse the free care, but under law, that is impossible -- and inhumane.”

The emails also show reluctance among Robert Travaglini and Sal DiMasi to embrace a mandate; the legislative leaders were pushing the less firm notion of encouraging “individual responsibility.” Romney aides hit on one way to coax responsibility out of individuals: They proposed publishing a quarterly list, in a Boston Globe advertisement, to publicly shame “employers who promote a culture of uninsurance.” Ex-Romney aide Cindy Gillespie noted, “The Globe would love it and it would keep the issue of the uninsured front and center.”

                                                                                                                                                            --PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

The state for the first time releases information on firms that received a total of $171 million in tax credits last year for everything from film production to brownfields remediation. CommonWealth and the Globe have stories. The Berkshire Eagle urges “caution, not panic on tax credits.”  (The Wall Street Journal looks at the national film tax credit arms race -- including $100 million in breaks to keep Hollywood filming in Hollywood.)

The State Ethics Commission rules on more wrongdoing at the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative.

CASINOS

Plainville Town Meeting votes against requiring an independent cost-benefit analysis of a plan to place slot machines at the Plainridge Racecourse.

The Herald looks at the activists behind No Eastie Casino, and says casinos have been a tough sell across the state. Suffolk Downs prepares to unveil a casino proposal that is noticeably smaller than the plan the racetrack pitched two years ago.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk ousts the acting fire chief after learning that he and members of an honor guard turned their backs on her during a Memorial Day speech, the Gloucester Times reports.

A battle is brewing in Fall River after a city councilor filed public records requests for the newly extended contract for the executive director of the Fall River Office of Economic Development. Both the director and Mayor Will Flanagan, who chairs the panel, have refused to release contract even though it’s paid with public funds.

Nearly four months after the Brockton City Council rejected a move to adopt a state law allowing them to revamp the city’s health care plan, union officials have yet to meet with Brockton officials to negotiate changes and savings.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The conservative Weekly Standard has some internal polls that show while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is likely to survive today’s recall election, the GOP could lose control of the state Senate.

A Pew Research Center report finds that politics is more divisive than race, sex, or class.

ELECTION 2012

The Globe has two very different tales of mills under Mitt Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital. The Obama campaign pivots to attacking the GOP, rather than just Romney.

Now that it’s official, Keller@Large gives his early take on the Warren-Brown matchup and one conclusion he comes to is you can’t say it doesn’t matter who wins in this one.

In a new CommonWealth “Face to Face” video conversation, Mo Cunningham and Peter Ubertaccio consider what sort of convention bounce Warren got from Saturday’s Democratic gathering that bounced her only would-be primary opponent from the ballot. Dan Payne, writing for WBUR, says Warren is discovering she can’t win a popularity contest with Brown so she is shifting her message toward populism. Time suggests Attorney General Martha Coakley, who lost to Brown two years ago, may be smiling.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The crew for Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups 2 takes over the Swampscott MBTA station, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

A business group has proposed building a seafood processing plant in Quincy next to the historic Souther Tide Mill on Town River.

Shell companies without employees are lining up for fast-track growth treatment under the JOBS Act.

EDUCATION

The Salem News, in an editorial, calls on lawmakers to deal with the issue of teacher evaluations to avoid a divisive ballot question that could end up being a setback  for all sides.

One of Boston’s 12 poorest-performing schools shows marked improvement two years after it was named a turnaround school, WBUR reports.

The College Board is coming under fire for allowing a special August SAT test only for students attending a $4,500 three-week college prep course at Amherst College this summer.  The SAT is usually only administered during the school year.

HEALTH CARE

What if the federal health care law is struck down this month by the Supreme Court?

TRANSPORTATION

Riding the T from Logan Airport via the Silver Line will be free starting on Wednesday, when a 90-day trial run kicks off to try to reduce auto traffic at the airport. Massport will be underwriting the $100,000 a month cost of the effort.

A retired Amtrak and commuter rail engineer lays out a plan in the Patriot Ledger for the MBTA to salvage weekend train service on the South Shore.

CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow, in a Globe op-ed, tells state transportation officials who are planning an $11 million patch-up job on the elevated McGrath Highway in Somerville, “knock the thing down.”

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A Lowell solar panel company has filed for bankruptcy and closed its New Bedford manufacturing plant, costing 75 people their jobs at both locations. The Lowell Sun, in an editorial, says the company’s demise raises the question of how Massachusetts and the United States can push for solar innovation in an unkind world solar market. Meanwhile, the shutdown could complicate Mitt Romney’s effort to slam President Obama for investing federal money into a failed California solar company, since Massachusetts lent the Lowell solar firm $1.5 million when Romney was governor.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A sex offender from Andover is released from jail as long as he wears a GPS bracelet and stays away from schools and playgrounds, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

MEDIA

Greater Boston introduces a new Monday format called “1 Guest,” which focuses the entire half hour on … one guest. First up is the co-founder of one of the greatest inventions of mankind ever -- the Keurig single cup coffeemaker.

The Vatican bans a book by a nun that deals with masturbation, the Daily Beast reports.

Beat the Press weighed in on what one panelist termed the “blatant” ripoff by WBZ-TV of a CommonWealth piece on sweetheart land deals some private entities have received from the state. The conclusion? Crediting the original story is Journalism 101.

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