Rick Perry's Texas Fantasyland

Rick Perry's Texas is a job-makin', low-taxin' oasis of economic growth. It's also a fantasy.

Rick Perry's Texas Fantasyland
Jesse Lenz

Dallas -- In his quest for the presidency, Texas governor Rick Perry says three things: His state's economy is better than America's. Low taxes and small government are the reasons. He gets the credit.

Almost none of that is true.

The Texas economy isn't stronger than the national economy, and it might be fundamentally weaker. Poverty is increasing much faster in the state than it is across the country. Despite Perry's chief campaign message—that, thanks to him, Texans have damn near too many jobs to go around—unemployment in the state isn't bucking any trends. In fact, it's at an all-time high.

Perry's narrative is attractive from afar but crumbling on close inspection. And its foundation is just as wobbly. When the Republican contenders (and the media covering them) talk about taxes, it's not a matter of if Texas's are low but how low they are—and whether Perry played any role in making them that way. But lost in that concession is the fact that Texas's taxes are not, on the whole, among the country's lowest. At best, the state's in the middle of the pack in terms of the actual tax burden on its citizens, and it's actually more expensive than most in business taxes. He's right that it's a small-government state—lots and lots of small government.

As for that government-is-the-enemy card he keeps playing, Perry's personal political biography includes episodes of naked disdain for local prerogatives, leaning instead toward a top-down governance style that at times has alienated both farm folks and city dwellers, including some Republicans.

But critics who don't know Perry well, including those obsessing over his recent oratorical flubs, have said one thing about him that is not true, according to those who have faced him in battle: He's no lightweight. Enter the ring assuming that he is, and you could wind up on the mat counting stars.

"When we see him govern, he's awful," says Jason Stanford, a campaign consultant who ran former Democratic state congressman Chris Bell's unsuccessful race against Perry for governor in 2006. "But when we see him campaign, he is a genius."

You've seen it by now, on the campaign trail or at the debate lectern: Perry cocking that cowboy smile and vowing to "get America back workin' again." He will do it by making Americans more like Texans, who are not, he says, "overtaxed, overregulated, and over-litigated." In Washington, he will force government to do what he claims he made it do in Austin: "Get out of the way, and let the private sector do what the private sector does."

It's a powerful 10-second pitch. Of course, smart, well-paid wonks employed by his opponents are working hard to create a good 10-second anti-Perry pitch. But the truth about Perry's "Texas miracle" can't easily be packaged in a soundbite.

At the heart of Perry's so-called miracle is his state's edge in job creation. He cites U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers to show that Texas added a million jobs during his 11-year tenure as governor of Texas, while the national economy shed 2.45 million jobs. On the surface, it seems like a slam dunk.

But those numbers, heavily cherry-picked for effect, are where the wonks will go when the wonks get going. Perry's cheery picture ignores a darker story line in which unemployment under his regime has increased much faster than the national rate. It's now at a 24-year high, putting Texas at midpack among the states.

Perry's favorite window in time is from June 2009 until now—"since the recession ended," if you believe it ever did. He keeps saying Texas produced 40 percent of all the new jobs in America during that period, and the BLS numbers back that up. What Perry doesn't say is that in that same time frame, Texas unemployment ran up from 7.7 to 8.5 percent—the highest since the devastating 1987 Texas oil and gas bust—while the national unemployment rate dipped from 9.5 to 9.1.

How did Texas add jobs and suffer greater unemployment at the same time? By growing its population. During Perry's tenure, the state's population has grown at more than twice the national rate, the larger share of that growth coming from the birthrate—in other words, not only from folks flocking down to Texas for all those jobs Perry's allegedly making. New jobs in Texas have not kept up with new Texans.

Bernard Weinstein, an energy economist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a consultant to national corporations and associations, says the Texas climate is more business-friendly than the national one, and he gives Perry credit for being "a good steward of Texas values." But even Weinstein balks at giving Perry credit for the state's economy. Much of Texas's good fortune, he says, derives from what the rest of the country has been doing for the past 50 years.

"Texas is in the middle of the country," Weinstein says. "That used to be a liability. Now it's an asset. As the population has moved west, as we have developed highways and air corridors and air-conditioning, all of a sudden, instead of being in the middle of nowhere, we're in the center of everything."

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13 comments
Crazyyy_Girls_90
Crazyyy_Girls_90

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Mr B
Mr B

Significantly, TexASS and AlASSka are the two biggest welfare receiving states in the Union. Naturally, both are Republican.

Perry objected to President Obama's stimulus program but eagerly took a huge check from the Federal government in order to lessen the state's deficit. But anyone who knows Repukeblican politricks would not be surprised at that.

Community Organizer
Community Organizer

I find it impressive that Gov. Rick Perry can somehow convince people to get off their azz and go to work for low pay, rather than just remain at home collecting welfare at taxpayers expense.

Well Done!

Shaun Costello
Shaun Costello

PERRY AND GOP HOPEFULS CRAWL ON KNEES BEFORE RELIGIOUS FANATICS - BEGGING FOR APPROVALIt's a sad commentary to the state of our Republic, that these GOP Presidential hopefuls feel the need to come crawling before a gathering of Evangelicals in the hope of gaining approval and support. Evangelicals, most of whom seem to have one foot in a staight jacket, have taken over the selection process for the Republican Party. This is exactly the kind of political mayhem that Jefferson warned us about, and took action to prevent. The nominee of the Republican Party has to cowtow to religious fanatics in order to get nominated. The Evangelical agenda includes; the reversal of Roe v Wade, prayer in public schools, the end of stem cell research, making homosexuality a crime, and legislating a National Religion - theirs. Oh, and influencing Cabinet appointments. For Secretary of State - how about Robert Tilton, or Jimmy Swaggert, or Pat Robertson, whichever one of them isn't under current indictment for tax fraud. The clock is ticking for the Christian Storybook. Only right wing America takes them seriously. The rest of the world is laughing.Read this:http://shauncostello.wordpress...

Strelnikov
Strelnikov

I don't feel Perry will make it....from what I can tell, the GOP has two "finisher" candidates, one they want, the other the base wants. The Central Committee's man is Mitt Romney; the average GOPster seems to want Ron Paul. We will see if the "Paultards" win.

All that written, this is a good article on how much of a BS artist Rick Perry is, and how Texas is trying to catch up to California.

mrearlygold
mrearlygold

perry is just another necon scumbag.

Vote Ron Paul in 2012 or more of the same. If you like what the country has become elect another democrat or republican. If you desire real freedom and real opportunities, rally behind Ron Paul who is as close to a founding father as we're ever going to see. Time is running out!

DonnaThompson
DonnaThompson

..........I can't believe....My best friend's mom makes $77 an hour on

the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month

her check was $5487 just working on the computer for a few hours.

Read about it here CashMany.com .......

Debra2
Debra2

Well... some GENERAL comments...I didn't vote in the last general election. I decided that the American public was not voting for a president ; it was choosing a King.Barack certainly got that feeling too, given the way he has been behaving recently.In about ten years of work against the death penalty, I noticed that increasingly, the FEDERAL courts were bending farther and farther backwards to insist on STATE'S RIGHTS.After a while, the inevitable conclusion is that the union has fallen apart, is falling apart ?When you're IN THE MIDDLE OF IT, just how do you know ??I call the country "the disunited states" these days. Rick Perry is championing a bunch of disgruntled people (but shouldn't we ALL be disgruntled these days, the decadence goes far beyond American borders, you know, to touch Western civilization as a whole) who somewhat confusedly perceive that the long, slow rise of scientific rationalism that began during the Renaissance has FINALLY run out of steam, and is not FUELING our desire for hope/faith now. It has petered out.It kind of puts things into perspective when you try to remember that the U.S. was founded as a European UTOPIAN experiment. The United States was SUPPOSED to be pie in the sky. If that isn't a Messianic proposition, I don't know what is.I can forgive Rick Perry for sounding irrational these days when it is hard to know which side is up in our culture.As for the jobs... when the Industrial Revolution got revving, there were small numbers of people in England who RIGHTLY perceived that those AUTOMATIC machines would destroy work that would probably NOT BE REPLACED. They were called Luddites, and THEY started destroying the machines. They were brutally repressed.MORE JOBS for MORE PEOPLE is part of the underlying expansionist logic that fuels the consumer/industrial society.We need NEW ATTITUDES towards work, and the lack of it at the time.We need to think beyond that old Protestant work ethic that was part of our utopian identity.CAN WE DO IT ? ....

Guest
Guest

I double-posted THAT?

Alexgunther
Alexgunther

Democrats who can't find anything good about our current situation in this country have no other choice but to try and convince everyone that the presidential options for 2012 are ......gasp! Even worse! you chose Obama, he lives in a fantasy land that is drowning in more debt with less jobs than 3 years ago!

Joseph
Joseph

Refuting the economists professors claim that Texas is business friendly with uncredited statements like "Does saying that Texas is "business-friendly" mean the state is unlike the rest of the country in some significant way, something important enough to make Texas more prosperous than America? Academic studies and the testimony of people involved in shaping the state's economy say no." makes this article come off like a hit piece.

President Perry
President Perry

Texas is a fantasyland because we seceded from Heaven. We're goin' back soon as the oil runs out. @PresPerry

 
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