Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fact-checking Rick Perry’s claims about his Texas record

Washington news with a Texas accent

Texas has created A LOT of jobs under Rick Perry.
But how much credit does he deserve? (AP photo)
Earlier this week, we listed twelve reasons why the Texas governor could make a very strong candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Today, we examine the facts behind those claims.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Texas, during his tenure, has created more jobs than any other state.

To hear Rick Perry speak is to hear Rick Perry tout job creation in Texas — and chalk it up to limited government regulation and low taxes. According to Politifact, Perry’s statements on Texas job numbers over the past 10 years are essentially true.
“In September 2010, we rated True the statement by Gov. Rick Perry that Texas had “created more than 850,000 jobs, more than all the other states combined.” To come up with that number, Perry’s campaign also looked at net job growth, although over a longer time period: January 2001 to June 2010.”
Job numbers, as it turns out, can include or exclude net increases in employment as valid indicators of job creation. Perry includes the net increases, leading some academics to disagree with the validity of his job creation numbers. As a result of this twist, Politifact has rated some of Perry’s statements about job creation “false.”
“In January 2010, we rated False a statement from Perry that “approximately 70 percent of the jobs created in the U.S. from November 2007-2008 were in Texas.” We found that the Texas Workforce Commission… had restricted its comparison to the states that experienced a net increase in employment; during the specified time period, there were 14 total, including Texas.”
So, in all, Rick Perry can correctly tout the Texas jobs numbers as true, even if some may disagree with the method of collecting the data.
Another issue entirely is how much credit the governor himself can take for the job creation.

He’s never raised taxes.

Rick Perry talks about his book, “Fed Up,” at the Heritage Foundation in Washington earlier this year. (AP photo)
Rick Perry argues that Real Texans “don’t raise taxes.” Even in analyzing Perry’s own record, Politifact found that statement to be false. The governor has, indeed, raised taxes during his tenure.
Perry, as it turns out, has raised taxes on both smokeless tobacco and cigarettes, and has signed into law a hike in unemployment taxes that businesses pay meant to support citizens who lose their jobs for no fault to themselves. Perry, though, maintains that those tax hikes are offset by larger decreases in property taxes. So, if the governor sticks with saying he’s never raised property taxes, the truth value of the statement could rise.
He balanced his state’s budget by making tough spending cuts, just what the federal government needs.
The Texas legislature under Perry did indeed close a large budget gap, but could not have done so without the help of the 2009 American Renewal and Reinvestment Act. In an analysis of a statement by President Obama in which he said Perry used about $6 billion to help balance Texas’ budget, Politifact rated that aspect of Obama’s comment true.
So, yes, Rick Perry “balanced the budget,” but he would have been $6.6 billion short for FY 2010/11 without the stimulus bill, according to Politifact.
*Further indication that Perry used federal stimulus to “plug” budget holes. And an indication that it was this, rather than spending cuts, that helped Texas balance its budget,” Politifact declared.
He’s not from Washington and articulates a sharp states’ rights philosophy.

Nullification: Definitely. Secession: Just a hint. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)
Rick Perry can attribute at least part of his national fame to his hinting about Texas’ possible secession at an April 15, 2009 Tea Party rally. A few days prior to that event, he joined Texas legislators in support of House Concurrent Resolution 90, a resolution supporting states’ rights under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.
“I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,” Perry said in a press release regarding HCR 90. “I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union.”
Furthermore, Perry’s anti-Washington attitude came out in his primary battle against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the 2010 Texas gubernatorial race.
He’s never lost an election as a candidate and had a stellar record as chair of the Republican Governor’s Association.
Rick Perry has, in fact, won every race in which he was a candidate, according to Politifact. He’s won every election since his first race, in 1984, when he ran as a Democrat.
He has a track record as a superb fund-raiser, both for himself and other Republicans.
Perry’s spokesperson, Dave Carney, called national fundraising a “logistical hurdle” for the 2012 race in an interview with Politico.
Carney said separately that the task over the next few weeks will be to see if Perry could build up the organization in Iowa necessary to win the primary. That said, he did reel in $40 million in funds for his 2010 reelection campaign, according to the Washington Post.
He’s a highly disciplined candidate who stays on message and isn’t afraid to attack, attack, attack.
Rick Perry beat Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the gubernatorial primary in 2009, turning the campaign into not only a referendum on Hutchison but a referendum on Washington.
“If Washington Republicans hadn’t spent like Democrats for 12 years, they might have maintained enough votes to actually kill Obamacare,” Perry said, according to Politifact.
He’s beaten some highly regarded politicians: Jim Hightower, John Sharp, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Bill White.

Rick Perry is a proven winner at the ballot box. (AP photo)
Beat Bill White 55% to 42% in 2010, most recently.
He has a proven record of motivating base Republican voters such as Christian conservatives, anti-tax conservatives, and (in 2010) Tea Party loyalists.
Perry has received notable endorsements from conservatives, but not always establishment Republicans. For instance, Perry racked up endorsements from the NRA and several right-to-life groups in 2010 while Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, his Republican primary opponent, received endorsements from the likes of George H. W. Bush and campaign help from Karl Rove.
The governor also has a notable status in the Tea Party, having spoken at several Tax Day Tea Party events. That’s not mention his work with the American Family Association, the ultra-conservative and evangelical main sponsor of his “Response” revival event in Reliant Stadium.
His West Texas roots could help Republicans win Southern swing states such as Florida, North Carolina and Virginia and Southwestern swing states such as New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada.
You can’t determine whether this is true or not unless he’s the nominee. Perry, a West Texan, has run up huge majorities west of Fort Worth (where “the West begins”) in every race he’s run. It’s all speculative whether Southern “good ole boys” would be more likely to vote Republican (or show up to vote) if a true-red Southern conservative was on the GOP ticket.
He has appealed to conservative Democrats and Independents in Texas.
Perry trounced Democrat Bill White among Texas Independents, 56 percent to 40 percent, according to CNN exit poll data — despite an earlier poll showing  White ahead of  Perry 50 percent to 41 percent among likely Independent voters. (Pre-election polls are sometimes quite wrong, eh?) But Perry had zero — well, 5 percent — support among Democrats. So cross conservative Democrats off your list of possible Perry voters.
He has had at least modest success with Latino voters, far better than other GOP contenders.
Perry can consider his performance among Latino voters a modest success. In fact, his performance is the definition of average–38 percent of Latinos voted for Perry in the gubernatorial election in 2010, according to the CNN data, identical to the 38 percent national average of Latinos who voted for Republican House of Representatives candidates. Perry did best among Hispanic men (41 percent).
So, at the least, Perry has very average support among Latinos, which is more than many other Republican candidates can say.

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