Rick Perry, the longest-serving Texas governor, said the U.S. needs to return to principles of low taxes, reduced spending and less regulation to end “economic misery,” in remarks to New York Republicans.
“America cannot continue on a course of economic ruin,” Perry, 61, said yesterday in remarks to a $1,000-a-plate dinner meeting of the New York County Republican Party in Manhattan. The governor criticized President Barack Obama’s policies while touting his state’s record of attracting businesses and jobs.
“In Texas, you don’t have to use your imagination, saying, ‘What’ll happen if we apply this or that conservative principle?’” Perry said. “You just need to look around, because they’ve been in play across our state for years, generating real results like unmatched job creation, more exports than any other state and a balanced budget.”
The leader of the second most-populous U.S. state made headlines May 27 when he said he was “thinking about” a presidential bid. Perry’s comment marked a shift from months of dismissing questions about his interest in the race. Last week, two previous Perry campaign aides fled Newt Gingrich’s camp, freeing them to join their old boss, should he decide to run.
“People would like to have some other options in the race,” Perry told the Texas Tribune website in an interview posted yesterday. “I’m nowhere near ready to say I’m giving it anything past just listening to what people have to say.”
Lots of Thinking
Perry hasn’t taken any specific steps toward making a run for the nation’s highest office, spokesman Mark Miner has said. The governor qualified his May 27 comment by adding that he “thinks about a lot of things.”
Several hundred Republicans crowded into a ballroom at the Grand Hyatt near Grand Central Terminal to hear Perry offer “a Texan’s view on what it’ll take to rebuild and revive the American Dream.”
Guiding principles including conserving funds, restraining tax growth, keeping regulations “fair and predictable” and reining in “frivolous lawsuits” have given Texas “the strongest economy in the nation,” the governor said. “We have stopped lawsuit abuse, we have one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, our per-capita debt is limited and we keep adding jobs while other states lose them.”
Perry succeeded former President George W. Bush as governor in December 2000 and has won re-election three times. Texas’s job growth and Perry’s stances on immigration, abortion and other social issues would help him as a candidate in Republican primary elections, according to political consultants including former Bush adviser Mark McKinnon.
‘Beijing Credit Card’
Without mentioning Obama by name, Perry criticized the president’s policies and Washington’s use of “one of those Beijing credit cards to finance deficit spending.”
“We should all be concerned about this administration’s interference in the private sector,” Perry said. “This administration may parrot our talking points on job creation but it’s clear they consider ‘profit’ a dirty word and think wealth needs to be ‘spread around’ or, in a reference to their core ideology, ‘redistributed.’”
The present administration “sincerely believes Washington knows best, in every instance, be it EPA interference in job creation or health care law that limits access to care,” Perry said at the dinner to benefit the committee.
1 Million Jobs
Since December 2000, payroll jobs have risen by more than 1 million in Texas, while total U.S. employment was little changed, said Richard Froeschle, deputy director of Labor Market and Career Information at the Texas Workforce Commission. He said the state has led the nation in nongovernment employment growth in three of the past four years.
“A lot of the job growth in Texas has occurred in lower- wage industries, which is problematic but also no different than in other states,” Froeschle said yesterday in an interview. Industries adding the most jobs over the decade include temporary agencies and health-care companies, he said.
In 2010, temporary services providers added about 31,900 jobs, while employment at ambulatory health-care services companies rose by 23,300 and mining-support firms increased by 20,800.
“Jobs flee other states because of factors like excess taxation, punitive regulation and frivolous litigation,” Perry said. “To preserve our job-friendly climate, our Legislature didn’t raise taxes in balancing a budget that maintains essential services and keeps more than $6 billion in our rainy day fund.”
“Not only am I proud to be a Texan, I’m proud to be a conservative,” Perry said. “Because conservatives have won the war of ideas.” He summed up one of those ideas as “government get the hell out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does best.”
Texas doesn’t tax personal income, which Perry has credited with helping the economy of the largest oil-producing state.
“Texas is viewed as a ‘we’re open for business’ state and some of that is because of the governor and some of that is because it’s the way Texas is,” said Jason Schenker, president of Prestige Economics LLC in Austin and a former McKinsey & Co. consultant.
With revenue still recession-strained, Texas joined states from New Jersey to California in curbing public-school spending to close budget deficits estimated to total $112 billion in fiscal 2012. Texas business leaders including Ed Whitacre, the former AT&T Inc. chairman, have said that taking $4 billion out of school funding in the state ranked 43rd in high-school graduation rates may make job creation more difficult.
Perry grew up on a West Texas ranch and is a 1972 graduate of Texas A&M University, where he was elected a “yell leader” for events including football games. An Air Force veteran, Perry leads the Republican Governors Association and has raised his national profile by scheduling speeches this week in Los Angeles, New Orleans and in New York. He has also invited governors to a prayer day Aug. 6 in Houston, about a week before the Iowa Straw Poll, an early gauge of organizational strength.
“It’s still a wide-open field and Perry has almost become the flavor of the day, so it’s the right time for him to take a look,” said Bruce Cain, executive director of the Washington Center at the University of California, Berkeley. “But it’s not like Bush’s campaign in 2000, when he had a 20 or 30 percentage point lead with a united Republican establishment behind him.”
The governor’s appearance in New York owed much to circumstances beyond his control.
“When Donald Trump said he had decided not to seek the presidential nomination he also pulled out of our event,” said Marcus Cederqvist, executive director of the sponsoring group. “We were able to persuade Governor Perry to talk instead.”
Trump said he wouldn’t run on May 16.
“He’s known for saying ‘you’re fired,’” Perry said in his speech. “Texans are known for saying, ‘you’re hired.’”
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