With Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry’s entrance into the Republican presidential primary race, his record in Texas and recent statements on hot issues are starting to receive increased coverage and scrutiny. Many of these reports—including this one from The Daily Beast—expose a candidate whose priority list and positions are out of step with most in the American Jewish community. Below is a collection of reports on Perry that highlight notable concerns about his candidacy.
Former Representative and NJDC Executive Committee member Martin Frost opined in Politico that Perry’s platform is heavily influenced by the religious right:
Perry demonstrated that he may not be ready for prime time with how he handled the gay marriage issue. First, Perry said that he didn’t have any problem with states like New York approving gay marriage - though he didn’t think it was appropriate for Texas. It was a state’s rights issue.
However, after getting strong pushback from the religious right community, Perry changed his position, saying he was in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage everywhere.
Frost continued by putting Perry’s economic claims up against the facts:
[T]he Texas economic record is uneven. The state still has unemployment higher than 8 percent, and many of the new jobs pay the minimum wage. Meanwhile, the state’s per student education expenditure is near the bottom in the nation. Perry has slashed education and social service spending in a way that is unhealthy for a prosperous state - and would not be acceptable in many parts of our country.
In The New York Times, Paul Krugman also took issue with his “Perrynomics” policies implemented by lowering wages and loosening regulations:
The point is that arguing from this experience that depressing wages and dismantling regulation in America as a whole would create more jobs - which is, whatever Mr. Perry may say, what Perrynomics amounts to in practice - involves a fallacy of composition: every state can’t lure jobs away from every other state.
In fact, at a national level lower wages would almost certainly lead to fewer jobs - because they would leave working Americans even less able to cope with the overhang of debt left behind by the housing bubble, an overhang that is at the heart of our economic problem.
So when Mr. Perry presents himself as the candidate who knows how to create jobs, don’t believe him. His prescriptions for job creation would work about as well in practice as his prayer-based attempt to end Texas’s crippling drought.
Adam Serwer of The American Prospect pointed out instances in which Perry reverses his position after receiving pressure from the very conservative elements of the GOP:
Perry has backtracked on substantive issues as well, when he strays from conservative orthodoxy. Most recently, he said he was wrong to have mandated that Texas girls be vaccinated for Human Pappilloma Virus-an anathema to conservatives who think disease is an appropriate punishment for having premarital sex. He also recently walked back his federalist position on same-sex marriage in an interview with religious right leader Tony Perkins, saying that he supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, because not doing so ‘would impinge on Texas, and other states not to have marriage forced upon us by these activist judges and special interest groups.’ Previously he had said of the passage of New York’s marriage equality law, ‘That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.’ Perry did the same dance on a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. As Conor Friedersdorf has documented, Perry has conveniently reversed himself on the issue of federalism whenever doing so might ingratiate him to social conservatives eager to use the power of the federal government to constrain the rights of women or gays and lesbians.
Michael Brendan Doughtery of PBS also recognized Perry’s inconsistencies, and predicted an unraveling of his support as more light is shown on Perry’s policies:
At this moment, as a non-scrutinized non-candidate, Perry is a handsome canvas on which Republicans of all stripes can project their favorite policies and personal qualities. But a little exposure threatens to undo it all. For conservatives, Perry’s Texas is almost their nightmare vision for America’s future: a debt-ridden crony-corporatist economy in which the growth of legal and illegal immigrant populations drives down wages for working Americans. For party moderates and moneymen, the man is a high-risk blunderbuss decorated with a charmless smirk. The only hope for Perry is that his initial honeymoon with voters lasts until next November.
Suzy Khimm of The Washington Post detailed the dramatic cuts to grade school, higher, and medical education Perry made during his tenure as the governor of Texas:
Grade-school education: The budget that Perry presided over reduces education spending across the board, from pre-K through higher education. The budget delivers $4 billion in basic funding cuts to public schools - 6 percent cuts across the board next year, then targeted cuts totaling $2 billion in 2013. It also guts $223 million in state grants for at-risk pre-schoolers….
Higher Education: Public colleges and universities face 9 percent across-the-board cuts under the Texas budget, which could be particularly significant given their role in providing human capital and innovation in the state. The University of Texas-Austin ‘supports the whole Austin area, in gaming, software and nanotech, Texas A&M has biotechnology,’ says Ray Perryman, an economist based in Waco. ‘They provide a great workforce, they’re at the cutting edge of research that’s important as we move forward.’ For example, according to a 2006 study cited by the Texas A&M agriculture department, ‘the overall return on public investment in agricultural research is 40% nationally.’...
[T]he Texas GOP’s budget eliminates $220 million in funds from Texas public health science centers. The cuts completely eliminate the state’s primary-care residency program, and reduce state funding for the family-practice residency by more than 70 percent. In addition, there’s a 10 percent formula funding cut to medical schools and reductions to vocational nursing training. The concern is that the residency programs won’t be able to turn elsewhere to fill the gap, exacerbating the shortage of primary care doctors that is already plaguing states across the nation.
Perry has also voiced opposition to addressing climate change and accused the “political Left” of “hijack[ing]” recent scientific evidence. According to The Washington Post:
At his New Hampshire campaign stop on Wednesday morning, Perry said: ‘I do think global warming has been politicized. ... We are seeing almost weekly or even daily scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing our climate to change. Yes, our climate has changed. It has been changing ever since the Earth was formed. But I do not buy into a group of scientists who have, in some cases, been found to be manipulating data.’
Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post wondered how Perry can argue with the scientific facts and promote beliefs incongruent with the data:
The facts contumaciously persist in asserting that, whether we like it or not, climate change is happening. Science says so. Scientists say so. Data say so….
It turns out to be as difficult to get people to start believing in a fact as it is to get them to stop believing in a belief. And that’s where global warming is now. What can you do? You can yell louder, but you can’t amplify the data. It’s become a moral battle. It’s why Perry can be applauded for saying a thing like this - just one more article of faith, a sort of sacred disbelief.
Since announcing his candidacy on Saturday, Perry already made outlandish statements and received criticism for his choice of words. Think Progress reported:
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who entered the presidential campaign on Saturday, appeared to suggest a violent response would be warranted should Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke ‘print more money’ between now and the election. Speaking just now in Iowa, Perry said, ‘If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.’ Treason is a capital offense.
Perry is even receiving negative reactions from his own party. Karl Rove, a former advisor to President George W. Bush, denounced his statements on Bernanke as un-presidential. As Talking Points Memo quoted:
‘You don’t accuse the chairman of the federal reserve of being a traitor to his country. Of being guilty of treason,’ Karl Rove told Fox News Tuesday. ‘And, suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas. You know, that is not, again a presidential statement.’
Perry’s official candidacy began less than a week ago. Yet already his past decisions and statements are exposing him as a far-right politician disconnected with the greater American Jewish community.