Beware Rick Perry

August 17th, 2011

By Tom Carter

Rick PerryRick Perry has jumped into the Republican primary race with both feet and mouth wide open.  He’s sucking all the oxygen away from other Republican candidates, and before he’s through they’ll all be crawling on the floor and gasping for breath.  Don’t think so?  Look at his record, listen to what he says, and watch what happens.

Much of what Perry says is nonsense, but it plays well with the right wing of the Republican Party, especially among other evangelical Christians.  Like their fellow extremists on the left, they tend not to think much beyond the boundaries of their biases.  He’s going to force other Republican candidates to try to out-conservative him, and that will result in alienating the large moderate and independent segment of the electorate.  Some will be driven back to Obama, and some will stay home on election day.  Either way, Obama and the Democrats benefit.

Watch his announcement speech (transcript here).  Listen to what he says, and look at him closely.  This is probably the most natural politician since Bill Clinton:

Perry claims credit for the fact that Texas leads the nation, by far, in job creation during the last decade and during the last couple of years of high national unemployment.  Like most politicians, he’s quick to claim credit for economic factors beyond his control and even quicker to lay off the blame when things go bad.  But in his case, Perry does deserve some credit for Texas’ recent record of job creation.

Under Perry’s leadership, Texas became a magnet for businesses re-locating from other states, entrepreneurs moving into Texas, and new home-grown businesses.  That was partly because of low taxes, business-friendly tort reform, generous incentives, and relaxed and limited regulation.  However, there are always “buts,” and here are a few of them:

  • Texas grew jobs at the cost of other states and regions, where economic and political conditions (such as absence of oil revenue and the presence of powerful public sector unions) didn’t permit implementation of the Texas approach.  It’s fine to say that Texas isn’t responsible for the failings of other states, and that’s true.  But in the coming months as Perry and his supporters crow about job creation in Texas, remember that there’s no free lunch — somewhere other Americans paid the price.
  • When Perry pounds the podium in praise of his success, remember the enabling influx of oil income and the jobs generated, permitted to a large degree by federal rules and policies that simultaneously denied that kind of development to other states.
  • And how do you have no income tax in a state, lower rates of other taxes, and relaxed regulation of business?  You tolerate a very high poverty rate compared to other states, a high percentage of adults without a high school education, a very high percentage of people without medical insurance, more limited Medicaid coverage (with some discussion of opting out entirely), and choices like reducing spending on education to avoid raising taxes or otherwise burdening business, among other things.
  • Finally, a high percentage of jobs in Texas are minimum wage.  It’s fair to say that a minimum-wage job is better than no job at all, and I don’t disagree.  But this fact puts the low Texas unemployment rate in better perspective.

If you watched the video of the announcement speech or read the transcript, some things Perry said should have caught your attention.  Two examples:

And I’ll promise you this: I’ll work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can. And at the same time, we’ll be freeing our families and small businesses and states from the burdensome and costly federal government so those groups can create, innovate and succeed.

All well and good, until you think about it.  There are many things only the federal government can do.  One is providing a source of money for states that need it — Texas, for example, which takes its share of federal largesse.  Beyond that, the logical extension of Perry’s thinking would balkanize the U.S., with states lucky enough (oil income, for example) and, yes, smart enough to do better reaping all the benefits while other states suffer continuing long-term decline.  Remember the non-existent free lunch — in Perry’s world, some Americans would prosper at the expense of others, particularly when states that are doing better have absorbed all the economic immigrants they can handle.

And I learned that not everyone values life like we do in America, or the rights that are endowed to every human being by a loving God.

This is breathtaking hypocrisy, coming from the governor of the state that is the American mecca for lovers of the death penalty.  Perry himself strongly supports the death penalty, and he seems too thick to appreciate the irony inherent in opposing abortion (which is what he meant) while supporting government’s power to kill its own captive citizens.

Rick Perry is not George W. Bush by any stretch; he’s worse.  He’s far more conservative, a much more ardent evangelical Christian, much less educated, and far less inclined toward bipartisanship.  And, the thing that makes him really dangerous, he’s a much better politican.  He’s clearly capable of overwhelming the current crop of Republican hopefuls, and, depending on what moderates and independents do, he might beat Barack Obama.

So, the choice we might end up with in November 2012 would be between a muddled, indecisive, insubstantial left-winger and a firmly convinced Christian praying to Jesus while trying to reduce these United States to a political and economic state of nature.

If that’s the choice, I think I’ll stay home on election day and watch re-runs of Law & Order.

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9 Responses to “Beware Rick Perry”

  1. Brian |

    Tom, you really should quit reading Krugman.

    Last I looked, Texas gets back a good bit less from the federal government than it contributes. According to the Tax Foundation, Texas gets back 94 cents for every dollar it sends.

    And saying that the industrious live at the expense of the non-industrious is patently absurd. If somebody sits around navel-gazing, or making things which I have no interest in buying, or if he makes a product for $10 when I can get an identical product from somebody else for $7, how on earth can I take advantage of him by not buying from him, or not dealing with him?

    What many of the rest of the states are doing vis their governments (notably CA), and Texas “taking advantage” of that, is analogous to most of the population whacking themselves in the thumb with a framing hammer, and the few that don’t said to be “benefiting” by not engaging in the same insanity.

    I’ll not be voting for Perry, but it isn’t for any of the half-truths spewed by Krugman.

  2. Tom Carter |

    Brian, I haven’t read anything Paul Krugman has written about Perry. Sorry.

    One source I found, using 2005 data, showed that Texas got back 97 cents on the dollar. But that depends on what you count and how you count it. Interesting article from the Austin American-Statesman; it shows the huge amount of federal money Texas receives and how critical it is to the state’s finances.

    As for the rest of it — I guess it depends on whether one sees oneself as a member of a community that shares an obligation to help one another as opposed to an individual struggling against the mob for survival. I prefer being closer to the former state than the latter.

    Rick Perry is a Bible-thumping conservative political extremist. He isn’t fit to be president, and I hope he doesn’t get that far.

  3. Dan Miller |

    Making a state attractive to business does indeed diminish states not attractive to business. However, rather than wishing for a handicapper general to set things straight by scuttling Texas, perhaps they should react by becoming more attractive to business by emulating Texas.

    As to Perry being a “Bible-thumping conservative political extremist,” his Bible-thumping doesn’t bother me. Maybe a bit more of that would even help the country. An Agnostic, I appreciate many of our religious foundations and traditions. The religious right seems very unlikely to impose a state religion, to forbid heresy or to outlaw all abortion. It couldn’t.

    There are certainly enough fruits and nuts around to make many fruitcakes; they exist at all points on the political/ideological spectrum. However, calling something a fruit or a nut does not make it so.

  4. Tom Carter |

    Dan, I agree that if other states acted more like Texas they would be better off, and I’d like to see them do it. This is particularly true of reduced taxes, more reasonable regulation of business, and effective tort reform. My point is that Texas being more successful relative to other states when other states are struggling puts the situation in better perspective and indicates that Texas is benefitting from the misery of others. How would Texas look, with all the problems it has, if other states didn’t look so bad by comparison?

    A president’s (or any other politician’s) religious beliefs don’t really bother me unless he/she takes them too seriously. The reality in America is that in order to be president, one has to profess to be a Christian of one stripe or another, including Mormons for this purpose. Confessed atheists or agnostics and Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Rastafarians, Wiccans — the list could go on and on — need not apply.

    Given that reality, whoever occupies the White House will claim to be a Christian. A Catholic will have to work a little harder to get there, JFK notwithstanding; a Mormon will have a harder row to hoe but could be elected. The real problem is when a president takes religion seriously. Bush worried me in that respect, and Perry worries me far more. I don’t like the idea of a president on his knees in the White House praying to Jesus for guidance on whether the United States should go to war.

  5. d |

    I agree with you,completely,Tom. Another miracle. I warned you he was a crazy, fanatic,when the last election for Govorner came up. Those of us,living here all the time,and really paying attention,know that.
    Perry will,if he can,dissolve social security,and leave a whole bunch of old folks, to live under bridges. All those on minimum wage,and right above it,the working poor,in Texas,who couldn’t possibly feed their kids and save for retirement,will be out in the cold. They will have nothing, to pay for their exorbitant doctor fees and outrageously high medications,not to mention,their homes or groceries. The schools will be under funded and will rely only on much higher taxes,a lot will close. Texas education is truly bad,compared to other states,and poor. You guys who are republicans,or undecided, must check him out,and really listen to what he’s saying,before we go down a long,painful,road to ruin,in this country.
    you think Bush was bad? You think Obama is bad,you will wish he were back, with a vengence.

  6. larry ennis |

    Sorry folks but don’t you think watching Perry is not only premature but more than just a little stupid. Our biggest concern is hobnobbing at Martha’s vineyard not running up and down the back roads of Texas. Just look for the million dollar made in Canada POTUS BUS.
    Worry about Rick Perry?? Gimme a break.

  7. d |

    Obama isn’t doing anything all the other presidents haven’t done, only less,most were on vacation more than he has been,including Bush. Perry is not running the back or front roads of Texas,that’s the problem,he’s campaigning for president,or haven’t you heard,Larry? All the presidents spent our money on traveling,especially,when running for president. Why not worry about a lunatic,who just might be your next,idiot president?

  8. larry ennis |

    Your making great deal of fuss about what might happen after 2012 or what occurred before Obama’s rise to power. What about here and now? Blaming Bush will always be enough for the die hard Bush haters but not everyone falls into that group. This President has done little if anything to really make himself look any better suited to lead. Your can blame Bush until your “blue” in the face but it won’t change the fact that we are suffering more from Obama’s lack luster leadership than anything Bush left us.
    Trying to predict the government under Rick Perry is pretty much an effort to predict the future. On the other hand, Obama’s intentions are pretty much already evident. Maybe if he wins he will not have to campaign for another term and he will concentrate on doing his job. I’m sure that time will tell. In my opinion, Obama caused a leadership vacuum in the nations highest office.

  9. d |

    I agree with you,Larry,about Obama being lack luster. He has not shined or excelled in any way. He is not,however,responsible for all the ills of our government,some of it started before he got here. He did not live up to the dream, or honor his campaign promises. I agree,he has done nothing to repair the horrible position,this country has found itself it. We need to worry about what will happen in 2012,we are going to elect the next president.If we aren’t concerned enough to be careful, about the person that we elect,then things can and will get worse. I guess,in your opinion,we all need to stick our heads in the sand,wait,and hope for the best. Maybe,they will elect a good guy or girl,who can fix this,or maybe they will elect another idiot.

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