WASHINGTON, August 26, 2011—Even before Rick Perry entered the race for President, he was a top contender. In the latest Gallup poll he has surpassed Mitt Romney and is now seen as the candidate with the best record on jobs, taxes and the economy. But is Governor Perry the real deal? If one ignores Perry’s campaign website and checks the facts, it is clear that the governor of Texas does not have a very sparkling record.
Over the last few months, we’ve heard a lot about how well-run the state of Texas is. If only we elect its governor to the White House, we can expect the country to be run just like Texas.
This is an excellent reason not to vote for Perry; Texas is not doing as well as most people think it is.
Perry claims that he’s kept taxes low and helped small businesses, but in May of 2006, he signed a Business Margin Tax into law which tripled the taxes on businesses in the state. It was called the largest tax increase in Texas by the Dallas Morning News. This seriously damages the credibility of the Texas governor who likes to speak of a smaller and less overbearing federal government. With a record like this, it will be very difficult to convince educated voters that he supports lower taxes.
The issue that has helped Perry the most in national polls has been his supposed record of “job creation”. How he got this reputation is a mystery: Texas actually lost over 53,000 jobs from 2007-2010. That number would be far higher if not for the fact that 125,000 government sector jobs were created during that same time period. This is almost half of all government jobs created in the entire country during those years. Texas actually lost 178,000 private sector jobs. The Texas model is much more flawed than anyone, especially Rick Perry, is willing to admit.
If higher taxes on businesses and lost private-sector jobs aren’t enough, Texas isn’t even a prosperous economic environment to live in. One statistic that Perry will never willingly mention is that one in every four children in Texas lives in poverty. Of all children living in poverty in the United States, one in six lives in Texas. Is this really the kind of state we want to follow as an example?
Rick Perry is probably aware that many Republicans feel some concern about his record in Texas, so he’s working to corral the conservative base. A little over a week ago, he told an audience in Iowa that, if Ben Bernanke creates any more money during the recession, it will amount to treason. Perry is going for the sharper edge, but it probably won’t fly with most Republicans, who have never heard him speak of the Federal Reserve until this election cycle.
Like most presidential candidates, Perry has changed a few positions since declaring his candidacy. One noteworthy flip-flop involves his executive order to require all sixth-grade girls in Texas to receive the Gardasil vaccine to prevent HPV infection, which can lead to cervical cancer. Ironically, Perry is correct on the issue now, although it is for all the wrong reasons. His obvious intention is to court social conservatives who oppose the vaccine for fear that it will encourage young girls to engage in sex. This, however, isn’t even the reason he has stated for his reversal. Governor Perry says that he should have done it through the legislature and not through executive order. If Perry really supported civil liberties and limited government, he would have been against forced vaccinations altogether.
The truth is that Perry is trying to please all kinds of Republicans with his new positions, and not alienate his supporters by informing them of his record in Texas. He’s trying to persuade Ron Paul supporters that he’s tough on the Fed, and trying to convince Bachman supporters that he’s more of a social conservative. If Perry were honest about his record, it would be clear to everyone that he’s nothing more than another neoconservative trying to sound party-line conservative, but who will continue the George W. Bush agenda.
Conor Murphy is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in political science. As a former radio talk show host on WVCW, Conor hosted two popular shows, Murphy’s Law and Son of the Revolution. You can read more of his columns in The Political Pro-Con at The Washington Times Communities
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