Note: there is a link to a separate post detailing the positive things that Rick Perry supporters are saying about him at the end of this piece.
[Last updated: 10/7/2011]
This is part 1 of a 2-part collection of critical statements made against Governor Rick Perry of Texas. The rather long article was broken into two parts to improve download time, which has become excessive.
Since he’s been Governor of Texas for over ten years, folks from the other “56 states” are asking Texans what kind of governor he’s been and what we think. I decided that what I “think” isn’t good enough – I could be wrong. So, I decided to do some research on Perry’s record and form a more accurate, fact-based opinion on his qualifications instead of relying on my general perceptions.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I voted for Perry in each of the three gubernatorial elections since 2002 and I am a conservative and a registered Republican. It was easy for me to vote for Perry since the alternative(s) were either uber-RINOs in the primaries or liberal Democrats in the general elections. Under the circumstances, my choice was always easy.
While researching Perry’s pros and cons, I’ve read every article and blog post that I could find – over several weeks. Many of those posts had 2-300 comments associated with them – I read them all.
After reading literally thousands of comments, it’s become apparent that there are quite a lot of anti-Perry activists out there throwing all sorts of disparaging rhetorical crap against the wall in hopes that some will stick and they can influence someone, anyone, to become anti-Perry too. The unfortunate thing is that most of their negative statements are either completely false, at worst, or misleading, at best. They’re simply parroting something they saw on another hater’s blog. Yet they maintain that they are the knowledgeable ones and those supporting Perry are ignorant clods who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time – “ignorant” is an adjective that they like to use a lot.
It’s ludicrous to think that some asinine statement like “Gardasil, Perry blew it – ‘nuff said,” deserves any consideration. No, it’s not “’nuff said,” there is usually more to know about an issue before a reasonable person can make an intelligent decision. For that reason, I have attempted to present some additional facts that have not been widely publicized just to educate those who have not been privy to Texas politics until now.
In that spirit, I do realize that anyone who reads this summary has a right to be skeptical of my facts. I therefore invite those who might dispute my findings to challenge them by verifying what I’ve presented here. And cross-check via reliable sources rather than relying on a single posting by some anonymous blogger – some spout “facts” which have no basis in the truth. I will identify the source of my data and in many cases, I’ll provide a link to the source so you can see for yourself … the real facts. And one more thing, you’ll note that none of my information comes from any Perry-controlled site. I do have quotes from some of his sources, but only items that are specifically identified as a quote – no campaign rhetoric.
And finally, remember that any politician in office for ten years will have his/her critics and will have stepped on some toes during their term(s).
Following are subjects that are claimed by detractors to be Rick Perry’s failings – they are in no particular order.
Gardasil is a drug developed by Merck & Co.. It is supposed to prevent cervical cancer caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in June of 2006 and subsequently recommended vaccination in females aged 11 and 12, before they become sexual active. Since it is not effective against an existing infection, it must be given before a sexually transmitted HPV infection occurs.
In Gardasil, Merck believed that they had a credible, FDA-approved, CDC recommended, fact-backed case for vaccinating young women and lobbied state officials to do so. Were they trying to make money on the drug? Without a doubt, that’s what a business does.
Governor Perry issued an Executive Order (EO) (RP#65, February, 2007) which mandated that all Texas girls be vaccinated prior to their admission to the sixth grade. Parents were allowed to opt out of the mandate by filling out an affidavit.
Perry was rebuked by both houses of the Texas legislature which overturned his EO by a veto-proof margin. Seeing the writing on the wall, Perry did not sign the law nor did he veto the overriding legislation. He subsequently rescinded RP#65 with another EO (RP#74) and the issue is now dead in Texas.
As of July 2011, legislators in at least 41 states and D.C. have introduced legislation to require, fund or educate the public about the HPV Vaccine and at least 20 states have enacted this legislation, including Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Source: National Conference of State Legislatures.
Perry’s negatives related to the Gardasil issue were:
- issuing the EO requiring vaccinations for young girls. Even though a parent could opt-out (for religious or philosophical reasons), refusing the child’s shot, people were upset that the EO required inoculation. Had the vaccination been voluntary, there would have been no question.
- Perry’s former chief of staff (2002-2004) was a lobbyist for Merck at the time and is thought to have had undue influence on Perry on behalf of Merck’s drug.
- Merck contributed a grand total of $6,000 to Perry’s reelection campaign. While it is unseemly in its timing, $6,000 is barely enough money to get noticed, much less to buy the support of a governor, least of all a “high roller” like Perry’s critics claim he is. That Merck contribution amounted to .00025 of the $24 million dollar campaign funds that he received that year.
There are still some who are convinced that Merck contributed more than a paltry $6,000 to Perry. They are simply wrong. Merck gave two checks, one for $1,000 and another for $5,000 to Perry in the 2006 election timeframe (in 2008, they contributed a whopping $2,500). Here is a source to view all of Perry’s contributions: ProPublica. In fact, Merck has only contributed $23,500 to Perry over a 1998-2010 span, not exactly George Soros money. For comparison, from 2000-2006 Merck gave $2,460,000 to state politicians across 40 states.
The other side of the story:
Gardasil was believed to be a way to stop certain types of cancer among young women. Studies appearing in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 found that Gardasil was nearly 100 percent effective in preventing precancerous cervical lesions caused by the the strains that Gardasil protects against. Gardasil’s effectiveness increased when given to girls and young women before they become sexually active. Gardasil was found to be extremely effective in preventing several (but not all) of the strains of HPV known to cause cervical cancer and genital warts.
Cervical cancer is the second leading cancer killer of women worldwide. In the United States, nearly 10,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and 3,700 women die.
In June 2006, The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended administering the vaccine to girls between 11 and 12 years of age, before they become sexually active.
Perry maintains that the justification for his executive order making the shot mandatory was twofold: 1) that the vaccine offered a chance to save lives that might have otherwise been taken away by cervical cancer and, 2) that insurance companies wouldn’t cover the $360 cost of the vaccine ($120 for each of a 3-shot regimen) when it was simply an optional “recommended” vaccine. That put it out of the reach for most low-income Texans. This from the Time Magazine article (linked above), “Some pediatricians and gynecologists are refusing to stock Gardasil because many insurance companies reimburse so little for the vaccine, which costs $360 for the three required doses.”
When Perry mandated Gardasil, it would have become part of a school-related vaccine package which was then covered by insurance for simply the cost of a co-pay.
Some additional insight can be gained by an analysis of 700 pages of e-mails regarding the HPV decision (Politico got from Perry’s office via a FOIA request). Ben Smith and Byron Tau concluded that there was not a record of Merck meddling and that Perry was “largely absent from the internal discussions.”
When Perry made the decision to issue the EO, it is likely that he was relying (at least partially) on his own in-house consultant more than being influenced by a $6,000 contribution by Merck. The e-mails show that his wife (Anita) WAS aware of the Gardasil issue and no doubt, Perry would have relied on her education (MS in Nursing from UT), and her experience, having worked in the nursing profession for more than 17 years. She worked in surgery, pediatrics, intensive care, administration, teaching and as a consultant.
That Anita was intimately involved in the issue is evidenced by the fact that she was the keynote speaker in 2005 at a Women in Government (WIG) conference on cervical cancer prevention and elimination.
Gardasil an unsafe vaccination?
Some critics have claimed that Gardasil has a record of “very serious safety issues.” That obvious attempt to further tarnish Perry’s image by intimating that not only did he do the bidding of Merck in ordering the vaccinations, he did so without considering the possible serious side effects. The CDC has been following Gardasil since its licensing and some current facts follow. Taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website:
“Since licensure, CDC and FDA have been closely monitoring the safety of HPV vaccines. “As of June 22, 2011, approximately 35 million doses of Gardasil® have been distributed in the U.S. and the safety monitoring system (VAERS) received a total of 18,727 reports of adverse events following Gardasil® vaccination. As with all VAERS reports, serious events may or may not have been caused by the vaccine.”
“Of the total number of VAERS reports following Gardasil®, 92% were considered to be non-serious, and 8% were considered serious. Out of 35,000,000 doses distributed, there were 1,498 occasions of serious complications; that equates to a .0000428 chance that a dose will cause a serious adverse reaction.” Hardly enough to consider the vaccine “a very serious safety issue” as claimed by some critics.
As of June, 2011, the CDC says: “Based on all of the information we have today, CDC recommends HPV vaccination for the prevention of most types of cervical cancer. As with all approved vaccines, CDC and FDA will continue to closely monitor the safety of HPV vaccines.” Check out the CDC’s statements about Gardasil for yourself. And specifically check out the Summary at the end for the CDC’s conclusion about Gardasil’s effectiveness.
An update: from Perry’s Speech in New Hampshire at the Home of New Hampshire Deputy Speaker Pam Tucker (8/13/2011):
When a voter in New Hampshire confronted Perry on the Gardasil issue, here’s what he said, “I signed an executive order that allowed for an opt-out, but the fact of the matter is I didn’t do my research well enough to understand that we needed to have a substantial conversation with our citizenry,” he said. “I hate cancer. Let me tell you, as a son who has a mother and father who are both cancer survivors.”
Perry said he’d invested government resources in cancer cures, adding, “I hate cancer. And this HPV, we were seeing young ladies die at the early age. What we should have done was a program that frankly should have allowed them to opt in, or some type of program like that, but here’s what I learned — when you get too far out in front of the parade they will let you know. And that’s exactly what our legislature did.”
A cynic may not buy his explanation, but most politicians would never admit to a mistake at all.
Agree or disagree, at least he accepted his defeat and backed off.
2. Trans-Texas Corridor
The “Trans-Texas Corridor” (TTC) term identifies a plan, introduced by Governor Perry in 2001, that some saw as the beginning of a “North American Union” highway system. It was to extend from the Texas border with Mexico to the border with Oklahoma and would be a 4,000 mile system with routes crisscrossing Texas. The $175+ billion dollar project would have been the largest engineering project ever proposed for the state of Texas.
When details of the plan became public, critics became concerned that it would lead to a “NAFTA Superhighway” that would facilitate the United States, Canada and Mexico merging into a North American Union (a fringe conspiracy theory).
As envisioned, the TTC consisted of multi-use right-of-ways that would be up to 1,200 feet wide to accommodate six 80 mph vehicle lanes, 4 truck lanes, two tracks each for high-speed rail, commuter rail, and freight rail, a 200 ft. wide utility zone to accommodate underground water, natural gas, and petroleum pipelines, telecommunications cables and high-voltage electric transmission lines. A full-sized right of way would have required 146 sq. acres per mile.
While the concept of multi-use right-of-ways can be considered forward-thinking and progressive (in the proper use of the word), many were concerned that the proposed methods of land acquisition and financing could take advantage of landowners and the taxpaying public to the benefit of private entities.
In March of 2005, a Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) was signed with Cintra/Zachry, a partnership between Cintra (Cintra Concesiones deInfraestructuras de Transporte,S.A.), an international developer of transport infrastructure, and Zachry Construction Corp., one of the country’s largest construction companies. There were several other participants in the CDA, but these are the two most prominent.
Headquartered in Madrid, Spain, with subsidiaries on three continents, Cintra is one of the world’s largest private-sector developers of transport infrastructure. Zachry is a privately held company founded in 1924 and headquartered in San Antonio,Texas. The concerns that critics raised over the TTC were:
- Cintra, a Spanish firm, was the largest financer. They would build, design and operate the highway (that included collecting toll revenue). While the Spanish firm would not own the system, they would benefit financially off of Texas’ infrastructure. All roads in Texas are owned by Texas and managed under Texas’ Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) authority.
- Since most of the Trans-Texas Corridor roads would be toll roads, toll earnings would be used to pay investors (Cintra) and to maintain the roads. If any public money was used to pay for part of the TTC, it would constitute double taxation. Motorists would have contributed gasoline tax revenues towards building and maintaining Texas highways and still have to pay for tolls on the TTC.
- It was estimated that 580,000 acres (906 square miles) would have been taken from private owners (mostly ranch and farm land) and either purchased by, or seized (via eminent domain) by the state for the Trans-Texas Corridor.
- The possible misuse of eminent domain – confiscating private land for “public” use – was a major concern.
Here are the facts that were facing Governor Perry: Texas’ population is estimated to almost double by 2040 (growing by about 1,200 people a day right now). We’ll be approaching 44 to 45 million people by then. That’s not so far away. The TTC was an ambitious attempt to create a state-of-the-art, coordinated system of thousands of miles of roadways, rail lines, and gas transportation systems without raising taxes.
Fifty percent of the population in Texas is in the I-35 north/south corridor (roughly paralleling the route of the TTC). Infrastructure improvements (particularly roads) in that part of the state will be required to accommodate the growth.
What were his options?
The options were: 1) do nothing, and the state becomes so congested, the air quality gets impacted so negatively in those metropolitan areas along I-35 that you stifle economic growth. We know that doing nothing is not an acceptable alternative.
Or, 2) we could raise the gas tax by about $1/gal. That’s what the experts estimated that it would take, and it’s not sure that is even close to feasible. In recent years, it had been politically impossible to raise the gas tax by even a nickel or a dime/gal.
3) Wait for Washington to fund it? Well, good luck doing that. Our congressional delegation has not been very successful in getting Texas much more than nine cents back out of every dime that is sent to Washington in gas tax. Texas is a major donor state. Source: Environmental Working Group.
Finally, the last option was to use a Public/Private Partnership (P3) such that the private sector would build the infrastructure, and then recoup their investment via a user fee, i.e. tolls. It is important to note that P3s are a financing option, not a revenue source. Some current P3 examples in other states are: the Chicago Skyway, the South Bay Expressway in California, and the Capital Beltway high-occupancy toll lanes in DC. Here are more details on P3s from the Federal Highway Administration.
I-35 would have remained in place for those people who chose not to pay the toll. No “free” highways would have been converted to toll roads.
Some people are confused … they use the term “freeways.” There is no such thing as a freeway, no such thing as a free highway. There are only tax-funded roads and toll-funded roads.
Nevertheless, the TTC is now dead in Texas. It cannot be resurrected under any other name. In fact, the governor recently signed HB 1201, which removed all remaining references to the TTC from state statutes. Perry has not attempted to resurrect it or do an “end run” around the legislature and the people. Here is a local (Houston) story that sums up the public outcry over the TTC.
By law, toll roads in Texas can never be owned by anyone other than the state and are not being “leased away.” The public never relinquished ownership of any state roads.
The governor signed a law in 2005 that prevents a free road from being “converted” to a toll road. This is current law under the Transportation Code, Chapter 228.201 and he signed SB 18 on May 19, 2011, a bill which strengthened property owner’s rights when eminent domain is exercised by a government entity. Eminent domain “land grabs” were one of the big concerns that Texans had relating to the TTA.
Unlike the current administration in Washington, Perry finally heard the people and backed off.
3. He used to be a Democrat and was Al Gore’s campaign manager in Texas
It is true that Perry used to be a democrat, but he was never Gore’s campaign manager. He was active in Gore’s campaign but didn’t head it up, that was an accusation that was later proven false. Perry was raised in a Democrat family where his father was a long-serving Democrat county commissioner. It was natural for him to start his political career as a Democrat. He won his first election in 1984 when he was elected to the Texas house and soon became a rising star in Texas democrat politics. An opportunity to advance himself presented itself and he joined Gore’s Texas campaign in 1988.
Those too young to remember wouldn’t recognize the Al Gore of 1988. He opposed the federal funding of abortion, supported a moment of silence in schools for prayer, approved funding of the Nicaraguan contras and was against the ban on interstate handgun sales. Gore’s platform was one that a conservative West Texas Democrat like state representative Perry could support when he signed up to chair the Senator’s Texas campaign.
“This was Al Gore before he invented the Internet and got to be Mr. Global Warming,” Perry said. Growing up in rural Texas, he said, “I never met a Republican until I was 25. … In 1988 when you looked at the candidates, Al Gore was the most conservative candidate that was out there.” Gore’s opponents for the Democrat nomination included: Michael Dukaksis, Jesse Jackson, Dick Gephardt, Paul Simon, Joe Biden, and David Duke.
When Gore failed to win the nomination (Dukaksis won), Perry came to question his partisan identity. “Not only did I vote for George H.W. Bush for president, I switched parties the next year,” Perry said. “When I did that, I made both political parties happy.”
From the election on, the Gore/Perry partnership began to crumble and the way that their paths diverged in the past three decades speaks eloquently to the way American politics has been reshaped. Gore has sailed left, while Perry’s political odyssey has seen him tack in the other direction — and to the opposing party.
Perry says that the Gore experience helped him to “come to his senses,” and he switched to the Republican party in 1989, fully 22 years ago. Perry switched parties over two decades ago and critics somehow think that bringing it up now is newsworthy? Sorry guys, as we say in Texas, that dog won’t hunt. When this accusation is leveled at Governor Perry, it illustrates a lack of substantive issues that are available to the accuser (is that the best you got?).
If you’re interested in more details, here is a Texas Tribune article titled “Rick Perry: The Democrat Years.”
If critics insist that it’s fair to criticize Perry now for his actions of 22 years ago, it is also fair to apply that same scrutiny and criticism to cover positions espoused by every other politician covering the past 22 years – President Obama included. Is it time to revisit (in earnest this time) Obama’s anti-American associations, his time in Rev. Wright’s church, his “present” votes, where are his college transcripts, etc.? Let the scrutiny and criticism begin …
4. He wants Texas to secede from the union
Some say that Perry wants Texas to secede from the Union and he is a traitor for saying so. The governor never said that he wanted Texas to secede. Scholars know that Texas secession is an urban myth and certainly, the governor knows it as well.
What actually happened was that after people shouted “Secede!” at an Austin rally, he said that he understood their frustration but added, “We’ve got a great union. There is absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that. Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.” It was obvious that he was playing to the crowd by implying that it could happen.
Perry emphasized that he was not advocating secession, but understands why Americans may have those feelings because of frustration. He said it’s fine to express the thought. He offered no apology and did not back away from his earlier comments. Perry’s remarks were in response to a question from The Associated Press as he walked away from the rally. The governor said he didn’t think Texas should secede despite some chatter about it on the Internet and his name being associated with the idea.
“Among scholars, the consensus is that the Civil War settled all these issues,” Harvey Tucker, professor in the political science department at Texas A&M, told Factcheck.org. “Texas does not have the right to secede.” Others agree, “There is no doubt whatsoever that Texas does not have a reserved right to secede,” said Sanford Levinson, professor of government at the School of Law at the University of Texas at Austin. “One could argue that the state does have a reserved right to split into five separate states (and thus get a total of ten senators).”
While some Texans still harbor fantasies about secession, it is not a serious issue. It’s an urban myth that Texas still has that right – most scholars don’t believe that. When Texas entered the union in 1845, it was with the understanding that it could pull out. However, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, in the end, Texas negotiated the power to divide into four or five (there’s some debate) additional states at some point if it wanted to, but did not retain the right to secede. here is a link to the 1866 ordinance declaring secession and here are the operative words: “and the right heretofore claimed by the State of Texas to secede from the Union, is hereby distinctly renounced.” Passed 15th March, 1866.
Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court case Texas v White (1869) established the principle that there is an existing prohibition against any state seceding from the Union without the consent of the other States.
5. The jobs created in Texas have all been low paying jobs. Texas’ average wage is much lower than the national average.
That statement would imply that most Texans are working for minimum wage and endure a quality of life below that of other states.
The statement is factually wrong.
The critics who make that statement haven’t done their homework, they don’t care, they want to believe the accusation since it fits their meme. As Ronald Reagan said, “Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”
Even if it were true, isn’t a low paying job in Texas better than being jobless in another state?
Here are some facts: On August 17 2011, Richard Fisher, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, gave a speech in which he separated “fact from fiction” about the record of job creation in Texas. Following are some excerpts from his speech:
Texas Job Growth is Indisputable: “These are the facts. You may select whichever metric you wish. Regardless, it is reasonable to assume Texas has accounted for a significant amount of the nation’s employment growth both over the past 20 years and since the recession officially ended.”
Most new jobs are unrelated to the oil and gas sector: “The most jobs have been created in the educational and health services sector, which accounts for 13.5 percent of Texas’ employment. The second-most jobs have been created in the professional and business services sector, which accounts for 12.5 percent of the Texas workforce. The mining sector, which includes support activities for both mining and oil and gas, employs 2.1 percent (yes, two-point-one percent) of Texas’ workers.”
Most New Jobs Pay Good Wages: “…these jobs are not low-paying jobs. The average weekly wage in the education and health services sector is $790; in the professional and business services sector it is $1,117; and in the mining sector, the average weekly wage is $2,271. Together these three sectors account for 68 percent of the jobs that have been created in Texas in the past two years.” Here is a link to Mr. Fisher’s full speech.
Mr. Fisher quotes weekly wages for the 68% of jobs created. Annualizing $790/week is $41,080, $1,117/wk is $58,084, and $2,271/wk is $118,092 when annualized. Hardly “low wages.”
You can check out the actual data for yourself at Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), (the source of the statistics quoted by Mr. Fisher). Be aware that dataset is massive, but it downloads your selected groups into Excel files that can be “sliced and diced” in many different ways.
If Texas has only been creating only low wage jobs, please explain how the statewide median income is still $48,259? A “building & grounds maintenance” person in the Dallas area earns a median annual income of $20,530 and a “food prep and serving” employee earns a median income of only $17,900, not counting tips (both figures from BLS). The massive number of low paying jobs must really be pulling down the Texas median income. Imagine what the $48,259 would be if not for the thousands of “poorly paid individuals.”
Having a job is only one part of the Texas quality-of-life equation – the other significant part is Texas’ low cost of living. The Cost of Living (COL) index takes into account prices on a variety of basic goods and services, including housing, groceries, utilities, healthcare, and transportation, as well as nonessential expenses like movie tickets and newspapers. These disparate costs of living can mean that a salary in one city has a far different value than the same amount of money in another city.
While it is true that Texas median household income ($48,259) is less than some states like California, New York, and Connecticut, the state does fare well when the income is adjusted by the Cost of Living (COL). When the COL is factored in, Texas’ median household income ($53,009) exceeds California by $8,550, exceeds New York’s by $10,403, and Connecticut’s by $1,532. These are 2009 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reported in a U.S. News article. Note that those figures are based on median income (a midpoint, with as many above as below).
Here is a direct comparison illustrating how much the cost of living affects one’s standard of living. Let’s look at two cities, Los Angeles and Dallas. When Dallas is compared to L.A., here is the result: “The cost of living in Dallas is lower than the cost of living in Los Angeles. If you make $100,000.00 in Los Angeles and move to Dallas, you will only need to make $62,862.55 ($37,137.45 less) to maintain the same buying power.” The comparison is from Inflation Data.com where you can compare two selected cities against one another.
And here’s another objective, authoritative comparison:
Texas is ranked third among “Best States to make a living.” The ranking is based on an Adjusted Average Income value which considers taxes, housing, and cost of living. Texas’ average is $41,427. Compared to Massachusetts: $38,665, Minnesota: $37,721, and California: $29,772 just to compare a few. This from CBS MoneyWatch, April, 2011.
And here is another interesting tidbit, Texas places two metro areas, Houston ($60,634) and Dallas ($59,217) among the top ten metro areas in the nation with the highest real income. Real income is the median household income adjusted by the COL. Compare those figures with a couple of other large metro areas from the bottom ten: New York ($35,370) and Los Angeles ($41,331). The figures are from a June, 2011 analysis by the U.S. News using latest available (2009) data.
And what about wages? Texas has seen wages climb faster than the country overall. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for employees in Texas rose 7.4% between May 2008 and May 2010 (the latest data available). For the nation as a whole, average wages climbed only 5%. This from Investors.com.
Finally, here is a new link, just added due to its excellent analysis of Texas jobs and unemployment. It is an excellent read that digs into the correlation between unemployment, job growth, and people moving to Texas. It’s called “Political Math.”
So, contrary to the poverty implied by the original criticism, the standard of living in Texas isn’t as bad as the “low paying” statement (if true) would indicate – the accusation is just an another attempt to diminish the job creation achievement, Texas’ standard of living, and by association, Governor Perry. And don’t worry, all of us “po’ folks” in Texas will manage.
6. Texas ranks poorly in educational spending and high school graduations
That statement is partially true. Texas does rank near the bottom of some generalized rankings in spending per student and high school graduations, but as usual, those rankings alone are misleading. The statement is intended to imply that the state does a poor job of educating its students and therefore its Governor, Rick Perry is to blame. It’s just another two-for-one Texas/Perry smear.
With Perry as governor, how does education in Texas really compare with other states?
Well, here’s one example: On August 18, 2011, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan attacked the performance of Texas schools, and therefore indirectly, Governor Perry. The only problem is … Texas schools do markedly better than the Chicago school district that Duncan actually ran as CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Here’s a link to Duncan’s tirade.
Duncan actually referenced a “massive increases in class size in Texas” during Rick Perry’s time in the governor’s office. But, class sizes actually went down. Duncan didn’t even bother to check his “facts” before blasting Texas (and Perry). Everything you ever wanted to know about Texas schools is available here on Texas Education Association’s website. Duncan could have saved himself some embarrassment if he had checked his “facts” first.
The obvious political purpose was to attack a Republican challenger to his boss, which, if he is defeated, would put Duncan out of work. Dallas Morning News’ editorial writer Rodger Jones offers another motive: Perry’s refusal to join Duncan’s Race to the Top. Perry balked at the program as part of his general opposition to federal interference in state jurisdiction, which Jones calls “political,” but offers it as a reason that Duncan would want to make Texas’ education efforts look deficient. But included in Jones’ expose of Duncan’s charges, there is more – for instance:
Texas is ranked 13th in Education Week’s Quality Counts report. Quality Counts gave Texas an “A” in “Standards, Assessment and Accountability,” and an “A” in “Transitions and Alignment” of the Texas system with college and career readiness.
In 2009, Texas ranked 7th in a 26 state comparison of the only states reporting four-year on-time graduation rates. That year Texas’ on-time graduation rate was 80.6%. The Texas on-time graduation rate for 2010 is now 84.3%, an amazing 3.7 percentage point increase in a single year on the dropout indicator.
The Texas class of 2011 posted a record-high math score on the ACT college entrance exam. The Texas average math score was 21.5 and was higher than the national average of 21.1. See the full text for yourself at a Hot Air posting of the Dallas Morning News article.
Now to get more specific – namely, a direct comparison between Texas and Wisconsin schools.
We chose a comparison to Wisconsin because earlier this year, during their sit-ins and demonstrations, Wisconsin teachers compared their state’s (supposed) #2 ranking in ACT/SAT test scores directly to Texas (which they pegged at #47). Their reason for comparing to Texas was that Wisconsin teachers are unionized while collective bargaining by teachers is illegal in Texas. This direct comparison was intended to show the benefit of unionized teachers in educating our children.
However, those rankings were found to be: 1) obsolete, using 12-year-old data, and 2) used questionable methodology. The ranking was debunked by PolitiFact and the claim has since been removed from the union’s website, in other words, they stretched the facts to fit their agenda.
One point that must be considered when comparing Texas to other states is the racial makeup of the student population. Minority students – regardless of state – tend to score lower than white students on standardized tests, and the higher the proportion of minority students in a state the lower its overall test scores tend to be. Regardless of the reasons, the gap does exist, and it’s mathematical sophistry to compare the combined average test scores in a state like Wisconsin (4% black, 4% Hispanic) to a state like Texas (12% black, 30% Hispanic).
But let’s even ignore that mismatch and compare them anyway – broken down by racial groups. We’ll compare some 2009 standardized test scores (the latest available) for 4th and 8th grade students in the areas of math, reading, and science. A pilot program for 12thgraders is being tested, but national comparisons are not yet possible for that grade. The data supporting the following rankings are found at the Nation’s Report Card website (link below the rankings).
2009 4th Grade Math
White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)
Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)
Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)
2009 8th Grade Math
White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 294)
Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 260)
2009 4th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)
Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)
2009 8th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)
Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)
Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)
2009 4th Grade Science
White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)
Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)
Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)
2009 8th Grade Science
White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)
Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)
Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)
To recap: white students in Texas perform better than white students in Wisconsin, black students in Texas perform better than black students in Wisconsin, and Hispanic students in Texas perform better than Hispanic students in Wisconsin. In 18 separate ethnicity-controlled comparisons, the only one where Wisconsin students performed better than their peers in Texas was 4th grade science for Hispanic students (statistically insignificant), and this was reversed by 8th grade.
Further, Texas students exceeded the national average for their ethnic cohorts in all 18 comparisons; Wisconsinites were below the national average in 8, above average in 8. That bears repeating: Texas fourth and eighth graders outperformed the national average scores in all categories.
Perhaps the most striking thing in these numbers is the within-state gap between white and minority students. Not only did white Texas students outperform white Wisconsin students, the gap between white students and minority students in Texas was much less than the gap between white and minority students in Wisconsin.
In other words, students perform better in Texas schools than in Wisconsin schools – especially minority students.
The above statistics and narrative was taken from Iowahawk’s great blog site (but they have been verified against the Nation’s Report Card site which was their original source). Read Iowahawk’s complete analysis HERE.
And here is a link to the Nation’s Report Card site – the original source of the data so you can compare and contrast any other state(s) you’d like to see.
About the website:” The Nation’s Report CardTM informs the public about the academic achievement of elementary and secondary students in the United States. It communicates the findings of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a continuing and representative measure of achievement in various subjects over time.
NAEP is a congressionally authorized project of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education.
And lastly, this little publicized fact, Texas owns the top two spots (#’s 1 and 2) in the America’s Best High Schools list (Newsweek, June 2011), 5 in the top 25, and has 19 of the top 100 best high schools in the country. How can it be that Texas, with about 8 percent of the country’s population, places 19 schools in the top 100 high schools in the country (that’s 19 %)? Here’s a link to the Newsweek article [be aware that the site has some display formatting problems, you’ll have to scroll down to see the schools, but the data is all there, it’s just in need of some TLC].
Is Texas leading the nation is education spending or achievements? No, the state must do better. No one in Texas is satisfied with our current level of achievement. Like any parent, in any state, we want the best for our children.
But Texas isn’t really the educational cesspool that the original accusation would imply – in fact, Texas is doing fairly well when actual achievements are compared to national averages. Is Rick Perry responsible? In some small measure, he is. Just as it would be wrong to credit Perry with all of Texas’s achievements, it would be just as wrong to assume that all of Texas’ problems are his fault. As governor, he certainly did contribute to both good and bad aspects of Texas life.
7. He is squishy on immigration
There is some truth in that. His stance against Texas adopting an Arizona-style immigration law was initially troubling to many conservatives even though his point was that it would be better to force the federal government to enforce the border since that is one of their primary responsibilities. A true statement, but one easier said than done.
He did add a bill prohibiting Sanctuary Cities as an emergency item in the regular session and added it to the call during the special session, but there wasn’t enough resolve in either the legislature or the Governor to overcome the business lobby that was adamantly against the bill. It died in the last special session. It was disappointing to conservatives that the Governor didn’t call another special session to continue the fight, but he maintains that It would have been a waste of taxpayer money to call another special session on an issue that lawmakers would not take action to pass – twice. The governor says that he will continue to support the prohibition of sanctuary cities in the future.
Some have said that when Perry said that the Arizona law “wasn’t the right direction for Texas,” he was taking a position against strict enforcement of immigration laws. Not so – what he actually said was, “I fully recognize and support a state’s right and obligation to protect its citizens, but I have concerns with portions of the law passed in Arizona and believe it would not be the right direction for Texas.” His concern was related to the portion of the Arizona law that required peace officers to inquire about citizenship status. Perry believes that the best solution is to allow officers the discretion to ask if they deem it necessary to carry out their duty.
“Texas has a rich history with Mexico, our largest trading partner, and we share more than 1,200 miles of border, more than any other state,” Perry said. “As the debate on immigration reform intensifies, the focus must remain on border security and the federal government’s failure to adequately protect our borders. Securing our border is a federal responsibility, but it is a Texas problem, and it must be addressed before comprehensive immigration reform is discussed.” Texas has allocated more than $400 million in state funding to secure the border since 2005. In the last legislative session alone, $152 million was earmarked for border security.
Perry has also adopted the National Governor’s Policy, part of which states:
- Federal immigration policies should ensure that new immigrants do not become a public charge to federal, state, or local governments.
- The federal government must provide adequate information to and consult with states on issues concerning immigration decisions that affect the states.
- States should not have to incur significant costs in implementing federal laws regarding immigration status as a condition of benefits.
See the full National Governor’s Association policy on immigration here.
In the final analysis, Governor Perry says that the nation cannot have effective immigration policy until the border is secure. Today, the border is not secure and this is where we need to focus our resources.
Here’s a link to On The Issues which has more references to Perry’s statements on immigration-related subjects (too many to include here):
Perry gets a “D-” from NumbersUSA
Many engaged conservatives are considering the pros and cons of the current group of GOP candidates and they’re check-marking mental boxes for each of the issues that they deem important. When immigration comes up, and it often does, a grade from a specialized and credible source like NumbersUSA can help or hurt a candidate. A number of readers have brought up Perry’s grade and are concerned about his “D-“ issued by that group. It is what it is … but wait … it could change. NumbersUSA updates the grades weekly, adjusting grades by the candidates most recent statements and actions so the grades are subject to change.
UPDATE: As of 9/5/2011, none of the grades have changed. Does that mean that none of the candidates have made any statements regarding immigration that NumbersUSA deems “material” and should affect their grades since this was originally written and linked on 8/17/2011? Either that or they don’t actually update weekly.
As of 9/5/2011, NumbersUSA has issued Rick Perry a grade of “D-“. Mitt Romney also gets a “D-“, and for what it’s worth, Ron Paul gets an “F.” President Obama gets an “F-“ – an F-minus? I certainly would agree with the grade given Obama – or maybe it should be a “P-,” for “present”?
Though not (yet) running, Sarah Palin gets a “D” and Herman Cain gets a passing “C-“. The only leading candidate for the GOP nomination to get a good grade was Michelle Bachmann with a “B-“. Those are the headlines.
Time to look a little deeper. How did they arrive at a grade and what are the components?
For one thing, NumbersUSA grades the candidates on what they say, and to a lesser degree for what they’ve done. The following is from their website:
“These are not Report Cards on past actions, which matter but not as much as what these politicians now say in the news media or on official websites. These grades and ratings are about what a Hopeful says a President should do about immigration. We look at contradictions and changes in stances. We generally give the most weight to the most recent statements and actions.”
So NumbersUSA is grading the candidates on their latest rhetoric? Words speak louder than actions? Their grades are based on what the candidate says they would do (or wouldn’t do) as President? That doesn’t seem to set a very high bar. I’m not saying that any grades would be any different – I don’t know, but it seems like a record of votes or bill signings (or vetoes) represents something solid as opposed to a statement made up of a carefully selected, politically beneficial series of words.
If the candidates know that they only have to talk a good game why wouldn’t they just voice some promising rhetoric – calculated to achieve a good grade and leave it at that? Barack Obama has never been held accountable for his campaign promises, has he? I recognize that is a cynical position, but they are all politicians aren’t they?
For his part, Rick Perry is graded poorly on two items: “mandating e-verify,” which is defined as:
“Jobs held by illegal aliens SHOULD be opened up for unemployed Americans and legal immigrants already here by REQUIRING all businesses to use the Federal automated, rapid-response internet E-Verify system to screen out illegal foreign workers.”
And “Limit Unfair Worker Competition,” which means:
“The government should institute SAFEGUARDS that will prevent importation of foreign workers any time they would threaten the jobs or depress the wages of American workers.”
Perry comes across as “middle of the pack” when compared to the others who are also seeking the Presidency. Only Bachmann stands out. While Perry does grade fairly well on four (of the 12 components), he is given an “unhelpful” (“null”) on the remaining six.
I know that readers will want to see for themselves all of the other details of the NumbersUSA ratings, so here is a link to the NumbersUSA website and to the specific page for Presidential ratings. While on the Presidential page, you can click the candidate’s image at the top of the column to get more detail on which the grade is based.
8. Perry is a member of the Bilderberg cabal and therefore believes in a New World Order (NWO). That is reason alone to eliminate him from voting consideration.
Governor Perry did attend a Bilderberg meeting in June, 2007, and now some say (mostly Ron Paul supporters) that he is their hand-picked candidate for the job of POTUS in 2012. Since attending four years ago, his detractors would have us believe that he’s been studying his Bilderberg bible, taking classes in New World Governing, and polishing his Illuminati lapel pin. Does this mean that the Bilderbergers are ready to dump President Obama (who they also supposedly put in office) in favor of Rick Perry?
This is a Texas-sized Conspiracy theory – appropriate for the Governor of Texas.
Here are some hard facts about the Bilderberg Group. The group (named after the Dutch hotel where they first met) was founded in 1954. Started by Denis Healey, Joseph Retinger, David Rockefeller and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, they aim to bring together financiers, industrialists, politicians and opinion formers to discuss problems facing the western world. There are no “members” of the Bilderberg Group, only attendees.
Every year they meet, away from the intrusive eyes of the press. The confidentiality enables people to speak honestly without fear of repercussions. Attendance is only by invitation of the steering committee. They network, eat, drink, play golf and return home. At each meeting, a broad cross-section of leading citizens are assembled for nearly three days of informal and off-the-record discussion about topics of current concern especially in the fields of foreign affairs and the international economy.
It is a small, flexible international forum in which different viewpoints can be expressed and mutual understanding enhanced. Bilderberg’s only activity is its annual Conference. At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued. Since 1954, fifty-nine conferences have been held. After each meeting, the names of the participants as well as the agenda are made public and available to the press.
Invitations to Bilderberg conferences are extended by the Chairman following consultation with the Steering Committee members. Participants are chosen for their experience, their knowledge, their standing and their contribution to the selected agenda. There usually are about 120 participants of whom about two-thirds come from Europe and the balance from North America. About one-third is from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labor, education and communications. Participants attend Bilderberg in a private and not an official capacity.
Following are a few of the prominent persons attending one or more Bilderberg meetings over the years; the list is intended to illustrate the varied positions, background, and political views of those who have participated (only USA participants are listed):
Presidents Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford, John Bolton, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Timothy Geithner, Paul Volcker, Terry McAuliffe, Ben Bernanke, David Rockefeller, Rupert Murdoch, Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfield, ABC anchor Peter Jennings, William F. Buckley, George Stephanopoulos, Mort Zuckerman, Thomas Friedman, George Soros, Senators Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Diane Feinstein, Tom Daschle, Chuck Hagel, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, John Corzine, and Governors Mark Sanford (SC), Mark Warner (VA), George Pataki (NY), Christine Todd Whitman (NJ) and Kathleen Sebelius (KS).
It’s common for many CEO’s of large corporations to be present at the meetings. For example, the CEO’s of Amazon, Alcoa, Coca Cola, Fannie Mae, Facebook, Ford, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Pepsico, Time Inc. and the Washington Post have all attended Bildergerg meetings. Even Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher (G.B.) attended a Bilderberg conference.
Some say that they secretly control the world’s governments; they seek the world’s destruction so it can be rebuilt more perfectly. They have long infiltrated nearly all aspects of American society, business and government and they are bent on establishing a New World Order. The appeal of this theory is its utter vagueness and total flexibility based on location and government. Basically, the conspiritists believe that anyone in power is probably doing something super secretive and deadly right now that’s designed to increase the suffering of the masses and bring more wealth and power to the elite. It goes without saying that there’s no proof of any of this, but then, that’s the appeal of conspiracy theories.
And what about Perry’s attendance violating the Logan Act? For those not versed on such matters: “The Logan Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 953 ) is a single federal statute making it a crime for a citizen to confer with foreign governments against the interests of the United States. Specifically, it prohibits citizens from “negotiating with other nations on behalf of the United States without authorization.” Because the language is so broad in scope, legal scholars and judges have suggested that the Logan Act is unconstitutional. Historically, the act has been used more as a threat to those engaged in various political activities than as a weapon for prosecution. In fact, Logan Act violations have been discussed in almost every administration without any serious attempt at enforcement, and to date there have been no convictions and only one recorded indictment.
It is ludicrous to accuse Perry of “negotiating” with “other nations” just as it would be to accuse the other participants, like ABC anchor Peter Jennings, William F. Buckley, or George Stephanopoulos of “negotiating with foreign governments.” They attended a conference with other influential people, that’s the extent of it. Find something else to worry about.
No one is saying that the movers and shakers who have attended the conferences don’t have an impact on our world, just look at the people who attend – they are among the most influential and powerful individuals in every category – of course they have an impact. But these people will have influence on our lives because of who they are and the power they hold, not because of any blood oath to the Bilderbergers. Frankly, the United Nations (UN) is probably a bigger threat to our republic than the Bilderberg group.
Only in science fiction (and conspiracy theories) can someone like Rick Perry be turned into a mind-numbed robot following the Bilderberg’s nefarious instructions to take over the world … instructions that they somehow implanted in less than three days … four years ago … right.
And recently, during an interview by Maggie Haberman on 8/15/2011, Perry said that he was invited to the Bilderberg meeting and attended out of curiosity. “I found it to be an interesting group of people. I have yet to find out why they want to keep it a secret,” he said. “I haven’t been invited back and that was 5 years ago, so I guess I didn’t impress them.”
And finally, a word from our sponsor, Pesky Truth:
Groucho Marx once said, “Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.”
Doesn’t that sound like most of our politicians took lessons from Groucho?
Click here to continue to PART TWO of “Seventeen (17) things that critics are saying about Rick Perry.”
Click here to jump to “What you need to know about Rick Perry”
That is where one can learn of the POSITIVES that are attributed to Governor Perry.