Saturday, August 13, 2011
Today Michelle Bachmann & Ron Paul Were Big Winners In The 2011 Ames Iowa GOP Straw Poll. Pres. Obama's Re-election Campaign Staff Members Are Probably Somewhere Smiling Right About Now. As It Relates To Mitt Romney: His Flip Flopping & Bad Jobs Record Will Cost Him Republican Votes. Rick Perry? More Than 1 Million Jobs For Texans Were Created On Perry's Watch. Low Wage Or Below Federal Minimum Wage Jobs With NO Benefits! VOTE OBAMA IN 2012 & REHIRE PELOSI!
Top 10 Things Texas Gov. Rick Perry Doesn’t Want You To Know About Him
With widespread discontent on the right over their current presidential field, all eyes are trained on a likely new entrant: Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).
Perry, who has been elected governor three times and served for more than 10 years, enjoys bona fides from social conservatives and Tea Party-types alike. Glenn Beck even described Perry as a man he was so enamored with that he wanted to “French kiss.”
However, as conservatives fawn over their newest presidential hopeful, it’s worth taking a closer examination at his record as governor. On issues across the board, from Perry’s support for dropping out of Social Security and Medicaid to his state’s abysmal pollution levels and his proposal that Texas secede from the United States, the Republican governor has amassed a record of far-right extremism.
Think Progress has assembled the top ten hits from Perry’s tenure as governor:
(1) PERRY ALLOWED THE EXECUTION OF A LIKELY INNOCENT MAN, THEN IMPEDED AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE MATTER: In 2004, Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in Huntsville, Texas after being convicted of arson and the murder of his three children. Even after significant evidence emerged showing that arson had not caused the fire (thus exonerating Willingham), Perry refused to grant a stay of execution. Five years after Willingham was executed, a report from a Texas Forensic Science Commission investigator found that the fire could not have been arson. As the commission prepared to hear testimony from the investigator in October 2009, Perry quickly fired and replaced three of its members, forcing an indefinite delay in the hearing.
(2) PERRY WANTS TO REPEAL THE 16th AND 17th AMENDMENTS, ENDING DIRECT ELECTION OF U.S. SENATORS AND THE FEDERAL INCOME TAX: In his 2010 book Fed Up!, Perry called the 16th and 17th Amendments “mistaken” and said they resulted from “a fit of populist rage.” The 16th Amendment allows the federal government to collect income taxes, which is the single biggest source of revenue, accounting for 45 percent of all receipts. The 17th Amendment took electing U.S. senators out of the hands of political insiders and allowed the American public to decide their representation instead. If Perry had his way, the federal government would be stripped of its current ability to fund highway construction projects, food inspectors, and the military, and the American public would not even be permitted to elect their own senators.
(3) PERRY PROPOSED LETTING STATES DROP OUT OF SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICAID: Despite the programs’ importance and popularity, Perry has argued that states like Texas should be allowed to opt out of Social Security and Medicaid. Were Perry to have his way on Social Security, “the entire system would collapse under the weight of too many Social Security beneficiaries who had not paid into the system,” notes Ian Millhiser. On Medicaid, in addition to stripping 3.6 million low-income Texans of their health care, Perry’s proposal would actually hurt, not help, the state’s budget deficit. This is because, as Igor Volsky writes, opting out of Medicaid would take “billions out of the state economy that goes on to support hospitals and other providers,” while forcing hospitals “to swallow the costs of caring for uninsured individuals who will continue to use the emergency room as their primary source of care.”
(4) TEXAS IS THE COUNTRY’S BIGGEST POLLUTER, BUT PERRY SUED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR DISAPPROVING OF THE STATE’S AIR QUALITY STANDARDS: Texas is the biggest polluter in the country, leading the nation in carbon dioxide emissions. However, when the EPA published its “disapproval” of the state’s air quality standards for falling short of the Clean Air Act’s requirements, Perry sued the federal government to challenge the ruling. Perry’s environmental record doesn’t end there. He is a global warming denier who called the 2010 BP oil spill an “act of God” while speaking at a trade association funded by BP.
(5) PERRY DESIGNATED AS “EMERGENCY LEGISLATION” A BILL REQUIRING ALL WOMEN SEEKING ABORTIONS TO HAVE SONOGRAMS FIRST: In January, Perry proposed requiring all women seeking abortions to have a sonogram at least 24 hours before the procedure. Under the bill, doctors would be required to “tell a woman the size of her fetus’ limbs and organs, even if she does not want to know.” Before a woman is permitted to have an abortion, physicians are also forced to provide an image of the fetus and make the woman listen to the sound of its heartbeat. Perry designated his proposal as “emergency legislation,” allowing the bill to be rushed through the legislature. He signed it into law last month.
(6) PERRY GUTTED CHILDCARE SERVICES EVEN AS TEXAS CHILDHOOD POVERTY HIT 25 PERCENT: Facing a $27 billion budget deficit this year, Perry decided to gut child support services, despite a report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities that found nearly one in four Texas children lived beneath the poverty line. Instead of raising revenue like California, a state facing a similarly sized deficit, Perry scaled back more than $10 billion of child support over two years. As Think Progress’ Pat Garofalo noted, these cuts were proposed despite Texas’ possession of a $8.2 billion rainy day fund.
(7) PERRY WAS A STRONG SUPPORTER OF TEXAS’S ANTI-SODOMY LAWS: Perry was a strong proponent of Texas’s anti-sodomy law that was struck down in 2003 by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas. Calling the law “appropriate,” Perry dismissed the Court decision as the result of “nine oligarchs in robes.” Even after being struck down, Perry supported the Texas legislature’s refusal to remove the law from its books.
(8) PERRY IS A STIMULUS HYPOCRITE WHO LOUDLY CRITICIZED FEDERAL RECOVERY MONEY BUT USED IT TO BALANCE HIS STATE’S BUDGET: As the nation struggled to avoid economic collapse in 2009, Perry was a vocal critic of Congress’s recovery package, even advocating that Texas reject the money because “we can take care of ourselves.” Months later, after Perry was able to balance the state’s budget only with the aid of billions in federal stimulus dollars, Perry again repeated that he would reject federal funding, arguing that the government “spends money they don’t have.” Five months later, Perry again took advantage of federal funding to issue $2 billion in bonds for highway improvements in Texas. Even so, the state faces a $27 billion budget deficit.
(9) PERRY SAID THAT TEXAS MIGHT HAVE TO SECEDE FROM THE UNITED STATES: One hundred and fifty years ago, Texas and other southern states seceded from the Union, resulting in a bloody Civil War. 148 years later, Perry floated the idea that Texas may again have to secede because of a federal government that “continues to thumb their nose at the American people.” Perry was roundly criticized for his proposal, yet he repeated his threat the next month on Fox News, telling host Neil Cavuto, “If Washington continues to force these programs on the states, if Washington continues to disregard the tenth amendment, who knows what happens.”
(10) DESPITE HAVING THE WORST UNINSURED RATE IN THE COUNTRY, PERRY CLAIMS THAT TEXAS HAS “THE BEST HEALTH CARE IN THE COUNTRY” : On Bill Bennett’s radio show last year, Perry claimed that “Texas has the best health care in the country.” In reality, Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents of any state. More than one in four Texans lack coverage; the national average is just 15.4 percent. As such, there are more uninsured residents in Texas than there are people in 33 states. Despite Texas’s low coverage rates, the state has some of the most restrictive Medicaid eligibility thresholds, and Perry has even proposed dropping out of the program. Texas also has an inordinately high percentage of impoverished children, yet Perry opposed expanding the successful State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
Rick Perry's Texas jobs boom: The whole story
Texas has created a lot of jobs over the 10 years that Rick Perry's been governor -- there's no doubt about it.
Perry, who is formally launching his presidential candidacy on Saturday, is making his state's economic prowess a centerpiece of his campaign. Already he's been bragging about his state being the "epicenter of job growth."
Texas has gained more than 1 million net new jobs in the decade Perry has led the state. And it's been going strong since the recession ended.
"We are home to fewer than one in 10 Americans ... but four in 10 new American jobs are in our state," he told a conference of state legislators from around the nation this week.
But that doesn't mean that all is well with employment in the Lone Star State. Texas leads the nation in minimum-wage jobs, and many positions don't offer health benefits. Also, steep budget cuts are expected to result in the loss of more than 100,000 jobs.
Perhaps most importantly, Texas can't create jobs fast enough to keep up with its rapidly growing population. Since 2007, the state's number of working-age residents expanded by 6.6%, nearly twice the national average.
Factoring in that population growth means Texas would need to create another 629,000 jobs, or 5.6% more positions, just to reach its pre-recession employment level, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
"They have a long way to go before they get back to a positive place," said Doug Hall, director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network, an institute project.
Still, Texas has been adding jobs at a rapid clip since the recession's end in 2009. The state has created nearly 297,000 net new positions since June of that year, representing a major chunk of the nation's 715,000 gain, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Of course, Texas enjoys advantages that have nothing to do with having Perry at the helm. Rich in natural resources, the state has been benefiting from the high price of oil and the expanded interest in natural gas exploration. Energy employment has soared by 16.8% over the past year alone.
While the energy sector is driving much of the recent jobs expansion, nearly all industries are doing well, said Jim Gaines, research economist at The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
Construction jobs, for instance, have grown by 5.4% in the past year, according to the center. Employment in professional services is up 4.5% and in the hospitality business by 3%. Only the government and information technology sectors have seen drops, of 1.4% and 5%, respectively.
"Texas has fared better than most of the nation," said Terry Clower, who directs the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas. "Private sector job creation has been pretty strong compared to most other states."
The secret, according to Perry, is low taxes, predictable regulation, a fair legal system, and a skilled workforce. And he's been sharing it with companies around the country, hoping to lure them to his state. Some are heeding his siren call, lured by the state's low cost of doing business, as well as Texas Enterprise Fund, which has awarded companies $440 million to relocate since it was created in 2003.
Texas, however, still faces many challenges on the jobs front. Many of the positions that have been created are on the lower end of the pay scale. Some 550,000 workers last year were paid at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25, more than double the number making those wages in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That's 9.5% of Texas' hourly workforce, which gives it the highest percentage of minimum-wage hourly workers in the nation -- a dubious title it shares with Mississippi.
"We have created jobs, but they are not jobs with good wages and benefits," said F. Scott McCown, executive director, Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for low-income residents.
Going forward, the Lone Star State will have to work even harder to create jobs. That's because Perry signed a budget in May that slashes $15 billion in government spending over the next two years. Also, the federal stimulus funds that poured into the state since 2009 have largely dried up.
The state budget cuts alone could result in the loss of more than 100,000 jobs, many of them in the public sector, Clower said. Thousands of teachers are already feeling the impact of more than $5 billion in cuts to education funding.
The state's rapidly expanding population has been both a blessing and a curse. While it has spurred the creation of jobs to service the new residents, it has also kept the state's unemployment rate higher than one would expect for a place that's adding so many positions. Texas' unemployment rate is 8.2% -- lower than the nation's, but higher than 25 other states.
Unless Perry can push job creation into overdrive, the rate is likely to stay high, economists say.
"Our labor force is growing substantially faster than we can grow jobs," Gaines said.
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Sources: AP, CNN, Fox News, Politico, Think Progress, Youtube, Google Maps