Lately Rick Perry has been all over the headlines. He is the new media darling in the race for the Republican Party nomination. Talk of Perry entering the race has been going on for months, but was recently confirmed by his formal announcement, made the day of the Ames, IA straw poll. Ever since he has been touted as the candidate to beat in the Republican race; taking the lead spot from Mitt Romney in nearly every poll. As the new leader, he is drawing flack from all over the political spectrum. He is a target of Democrats and competing Republicans.
So who is Rick Perry? Is he just another man running in an already broad field, or is he truly the candidate to beat? Is he really the kind of person we want in the White House? Does he have a consistent and Constitutional stance on the issues? These are a few of the questions that will be addressed as we delve into Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Perry.
James Richard “Rick” Perry was born on March 4, 1950 in Paint Creek, TX. His father was a Democrat, which is the party Rick Perry held to until 1989. He was an Eagle Scout, and graduated high school in 1968. He went on to attend collage at Texas A&M University and graduated in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a GPA of 2.5. Perry married his childhood sweetheart Anita Thigpen in 1982. They have two children, Griffin and Sydney. Rick served in the US Air Force from 1972-1977 departing with the rank of Captain. Perry grew up in the Methodist church and is a member of Tarrytown United Methodist Church.
Perry states that his interest in politics began in November 1961 when he attended the funeral of US Representative Sam Rayburn (D-TX) with his father. His political career began in 1984 with his election to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat representing the 64th district. He held that seat for three consecutive two-year terms. In 1987 Perry voted in favor of a $5.7 billion tax increase and in 1988 he supported Al Gore’s Democratic primary run and chaired his Texas campaign. In 1989 he changed parties and became a Republican so that he could challenge the incumbent Agriculture Commissioner, Democrat Jim Hightower. He won that election in 1990 and remained Agricultural Commissioner until 1999. Perry next set his sights on the Lieutenant Governorship and was elected to that position in 1999. On December 21, 2000 Perry took on the role of Governor following George W. Bush’s resignation from the position as he transitioned to the White House. Perry has held the Texas Governorship ever since, winning reelections in 2002, 2006, and 2010. Currently Perry is seeking the Republican Party nomination for President.
Rick Perry presents himself as a fiscal conservative and uses his job creation as Governor of Texas as a main talking point. Based on the numbers, Perry’s policies as Governor allowed the creation of 237,000 jobs between June 2009 and August 2011. While this is an impressive number, another interesting fact comes into play. Texas has the highest number of employed working at or below minimum wage. The raise in job creation is largely credited to the lack of a state income tax, as well as looser regulations, anti-Union laws and Texas’ advantageously centralized location in the country. These conditions, while they may have helped unemployment numbers in Texas would not translate to the national level. The federal government desperately needs to deregulate the market if it hopes to see an economic turnaround, however it is doubtful that such needed deregulation will occur given the position of most Democrats and the influence of corporate lobbyists. Most regulations are used by various parts of the market to gain unfair advantage over competitors. In this way, many large corporations have it in their best interest to maintain current regulations. In addition to that facet, there is also the reactionary approach to regulation. Anytime something goes “wrong” in the market, Washington uses the problem as cause for more and more regulation and government intervention. These are reactionary regulations. Policies created in reaction to a problem or event are usually the worst as they are frequently based on emotion, or use the emotion of constituents to overcome what would at any other time be great opposition. Examples of these are “Caylee’s Law” and the deceitfully named Patriot Act, respectively.
Furthermore, Perry has not given any indication of seriously wishing to abolish the federal income tax, so that Texan advantage is null and void on the national stage. Even if he did wish to eliminate the income tax, history of his own practices would not be in his favor. During Perry’s time as Governor of Texas he increased state government spending by $41 billion, bringing the total to about $90 billion in 2010. In addition to this, the state debt in Texas has more than doubled during Perry’s governorship. This is on par with what G.W and Obama have done to the national debt. If one fact is abundantly certain, it is that we need to reduce the debt, not increase it further. Based on Perry’s own record, he is not the man for the job.
Governor Perry has a very inconsistent record on taxes. In 2002 when he was running for governor he faced a Democrat who pledged not to raise taxes. Perry would not at that time make a similar pledge. In 2004-2006 he called for, and signed into law a bill that would lower property taxes and in exchange raise taxes on companies, cigarettes, and strip club patrons. This was done in response to the Texas Supreme Court taking issue with the previous method of utilizing property taxes to fund schools. In 2009, Perry signed the Grover Norquist Anti-Tax Pledge, which calls for signers to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes”. This comes in stark contrast to his position in 2002 when he refused to make such a pledge. A shift like this almost seems as if calculated for a 2012 presidential run. Under the new banner of total tax increase abstinence Perry will find himself in good company as all of his competitors recently stated in a debate that none of them would sign a tax increase as President; even if it were accompanied by a 10:1 spending cut.
Perry was the lead proponent of the Trans-Texas Corridor, which was a proposal to create a super-highway which would have created a direct connection between Texas and Pacific ports in the south of Mexico. The Corridor was also to form the southern portion of the NAFTA Superhighway, which aimed to connect Mexico and Canada. These projects have come under heavy fire as bent on undermining American sovereignty.
Rick Perry has a dismal record on illegal immigration, which is rather unsettling when we consider that he is governor of a state heavily affected by illegal immigration. In 2001 he praised the enactment of a statute that provided in-state tuition pricing to the children of illegal immigrants saying:
We must say to every Texas child learning in a Texas classroom, “we don’t care where you come from, but where you are going, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get there.” And that vision must include the children of undocumented workers. That’s why Texas took the national lead in allowing such deserving young minds to attend a Texas college at a resident rate.
Perry also opposes the creation of a boarder fence, favoring instead the use of technology and “boots on the ground”.
In February 2007 Perry issued an executive order which made it mandatory for girls in Texas to receive the Gardasil vaccine against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer. The order resulted in national media attention and much outrage among people all over the country. At the time, Gardasil was the only FDA approved HPV vaccine. After the executive order it was brought to light that Perry had close ties to Merck, the manufacturer of the vaccine. Aside from the serious conflict of interest here, we must also consider the much more damning and dangerous idea that the government, or in this case a single politician can dictate what citizens must put into their bodies. This idea is very caustic to the concept of personal liberty. Thankfully the Texas legislature recognized this and overturned the executive order in May of 2007, which Perry did not veto, knowing that if he did, the legislature would have the resources to overturn it.
During the 2008 election cycle Perry endorsed Rudy Giuliani for the Republican presidential nomination. This is concerning given that of the candidates in that race, Giuliani was among the candidates least qualified to run the country. Giuliani was the mayor of New York City during the attacks of 9/11. This does not make him worthy of the presidency. Furthermore, it became quite evident in the primary debates that Giuliani was a very straight party-line war monger like all of the other candidates, excluding Ron Paul. After Giuliani dropped out of the race, Perry immediately threw his weight behind John McCain. Again, another very pro-war candidate who’s views differed very little from his predecessor George W. Bush.
In 2007 Perry caused another wave of controversy among some people by attending the Bilderberg conference which was held in Istanbul and meets annually in different locations. The Bilderberg meeting is a private, invitation-only gathering of around 100 of the most wealth and influential people from governments, corporations, banks, and the media. The meeting is closed and very secretive, which has led to the belief by some that it serves a nefarious purpose.
So there we have it. Rick Perry. He’s inconsistent on taxes. He has no plan for addressing illegal immigration, and in fact supports policies that encourage it. He more than doubled the Texas state debt. He has a record of seizing power to undermine the liberty of citizens. He is not a Constitutional choice for president. He talks a good talk, but even a brief glance at his record brings forth serious contradictions. Rick Perry stands for the establishment and will no doubt receive their full support. He may well become the candidate to beat in the Primary. Let us hope that the fact of his record will be his undoing to make way for a more suitable candidate. We have already had 8 years with a cowboy in the White House. We have no need of more.
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