More Rick Perry Texas Two Steppin'

More Rick Perry Texas Two Steppin'

Perry slams the Office of the President, yet is running for it. He hates the stimulus, yet goes after the money. Which is it?

Texas Governor Rick Perry has been hammering on jobs and economy since his entrance into the 2012 race. That's not unique, joblessness and economic issues are the bread and butter of this Presidential race already, and will continue to be well after the Republican primary. However, Perry's rhetoric doesn't exactly match up with his record as governor, and that has got some people scratching their heads. In his 2010 book, Fed Up!, he writes,  "We are fed up with bailout after bailout and stimulus plan after stimulus plan, each one of which tosses principle out the window along with taxpayer money." That said, he has captured record amounts of federal stimulus money for his own state. It seems to me this is a case of, "Yeah it's bad, but I don't want to be left out." Compromising his own principles (if any Presidential candidate can be said to have those) for a chance at "free" money from taxpayers.

As reported by the Texas Tribune, Perry has accepted huge amounts of taxpayers' stimulus money in the past. In the 2008-2009 fiscal year, Texas was looking at a $3.3 billion shortfall. It was a deficit that certainly would have had long-term effects on the state's fiscal future had it not been for one thing; the federal stimulus funds to state treasuries. Perry and state lobbyists garnered billions in federal stimulus dollars to close that budget gap. In fact, Texas used federal stimulus dollars to close gaps in the state's last three annual budgets rather than dipping into Texas' "Economic Stabilization Fund", a rainy day fund worth around $9.1 billion. That doesn't sound like a state with a governor that doesn't believe in stimulus spending. It sounds like Perry has made sure that Texas benefits highly from taxpayer stimulus dollars, even without actually needing it.

But that brings up another point... did Texas need the stimulus money? Could they have balanced their budget without it?  Lucy Nached, deputy press secretary for the governor's office, told CNN Money that, "Texas would have balanced its budget regardless of the presence of stimulus dollars." She went on to say, "This money came from the pockets of Texas taxpayers, and we are committed to getting our fair share of these dollars, which would have otherwise been disbursed to other states." Of course, it was federal taxpayer dollars, and there's no way of telling "whose" it was or where it came from. That aside, the Center for Public Policy Priorities reports that, "About half of the total $17 billion in federal stimulus money that came to Texas was spent on so-called 'shovel ready' projects — things we would not have done with our own money."

Of course it's difficult for anyone to pass on a pot of money, be they taxpayer, governor, or policy maker. However,  wagging a finger at Democrats on one hand for their "irresponsible" stimulus "giveaways", and accepting those giveaways with the other hand, doesn't paint a very consistent picture of Perry's character. What Perry needs to acknowledge is that Texas would not be in the state it's in today without accepting that $17 billion in stimulus dollars, and that though he may not agree with it in principle, he hasn't exactly lived up to those principles himself.