Posted By Drew Hjelm Guest Host at Radio Free Market on his blog Ad Libertad.
I had the chance to meet Governor Rick Perry at his campaign stop in Iowa City yesterday. It was at the famed Hamburg Inn #2, where many candidates come for meet and greets before elections. The room was packed. The place has seating for about 75 people, and it was a full house. Standing room only. There was media everywhere; one of Wolf Blitzer’s field correspondents had her Situation Room camera right in front of my table.
Around 3:30, Perry arrived and shook hands all the way around the restaurant. While I was waiting for him to come around, met Mrs. Anita Perry and the family. Mrs. Perry asked me what “Mises” was all about on my wristband and proceded to talk about whatever nonprofit was on hers.
About five minutes later, Governor Perry came around and I talked with him briefly about his record. Here’s part of the exchange:
What I asked Governor Perry was “Considering state debt has nearly tripled and spending has increased by two thirds since you were governor, and also that ACORN considered your help their ‘proudest moment,’ what were the differences between him and the current liberal president?” As you can see, he immediately tried to excuse away the numbers.
I found the debt numbers at Politifact from Bill White, who quotes the Texas Bond Review Board. I asked Perry about the raw numbers, which show that in 2000 Texas state debt was $13.7B, and by 2009 that number had grown to over $34B (Mitchell Schnurman found more recent numbers for 2010: $37B.). Bill White at Politifact adjusted for inflation and found the debt merely doubled under Perry.
Perry’s record on spending can be found at Texas Budget Source. In 2000 when Perry took over, Texas spending was $49.7B and the latest numbers the site has available show that spending was $82.1B, a 67% increase. Adjusting for inflation and population growth, the growth in the size of the Texas government during his time as governor is a paltry 36%.
Finally, I found that Perry had good friends in ACORN, a community organization that Republicans love to hate. In 2006, Perry signed into law a bill which benefited low-income homeowners. ACORN called this their “proudest moment.” When Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson opposed funding ACORN in 2007, he attacked her.
This brings me full circle back to my question, what are the differences between him and the current liberal president? The Republicans love to attack President Obama for being a tax and spend liberal, being friends with all sorts of liberal organizations, and so on. Governor Perry’s record shows that he isn’t much different than President Obama, and he didn’t want to comment on this. His campaign website spouts platitudes about a record of cutting spending, which don’t jive with the numbers.
But that’s not all.
Governor Perry was once a Democrat. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but during Al Gore’s 1988 presidential bid, Perry was Al Gore’s Texas state chairman. For him to be so admired as a solid fiscal conservative means that people are completely oblivious to his record.
One other thing to mention is that Perry has a bit of a problem with handing out special favors to corporate interests. Many people are aware of Rick Perry’s executive order mandating that all 11 and 12 year old schoolgirls be given the controversial Gardasil vaccine, but many are unaware that Merck (the corporation manufacturing the drug) gave Perry money during his reelection campaign or that Perry’s former chief of staff went to work as a lobbyist for Merck before Perry issued his order.
I like the idea of private roads, but Perry has made sure to give the idea a bad name. In 2002, Perry promised to build a network of private toll roads called the “Trans-Texas Corridor.” However, he wasn’t too interested in maintaining property rights for Texans, and in a post-Kelo world, we ought to be concerned with this. In 2007, Perry vetoed a bill which would have given protection to property owners in eminent domain disputes.
Governor Perry has also been responsible for handing out huge sums of money to other political donors. Perry created a large taxpayer slush fund in 2005 with which to hand out money to promising political donors. Not only does this sort of corruption sound horrible, but it was destined to never work.
The shaking of hands with Governor Perry went just as expected. He has a record of excessive spending and working with lobbyists against the people of Texas. When confronted with his own record, Rick Perry runs. He’s no different than either George Bush or Barack Obama. In fact, before he arrived our table was discussing how Rick Perry looks just like Josh Brolin in that movie about George W Bush. His record and positions will not be questioned, and he will continue to have the adulation of the huddled masses, and he’ll wave his way into the White House: