Rick Perry's Texas Is a Fantasy Land

In his quest for the presidency, Texas Governor Rick Perry says three things: His state's economy is better than America's. Low taxes and small government are the reasons. He gets the credit.

Almost none of that is true.

The Texas economy isn't stronger than the national economy, and it may be fundamentally weaker. Poverty is increasing much faster in the state than it is across the country. Despite Perry's chief campaign message — that, thanks to him, Texans have damn near too many jobs to go around — unemployment in the state isn't bucking any trends. In fact, it's at an all-time high.

New Times photo illustration; photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore
A Texas Tech science building carries Anita Perry's name, but her husband's plan would devastate the state's university research programs.
Brian Cahn/ZUMA Press/Newscom
A Texas Tech science building carries Anita Perry's name, but her husband's plan would devastate the state's university research programs.

Perry's narrative is attractive from afar but crumbling on close inspection. And its foundation is just as wobbly. When the Republican contenders (and the media covering them) talk about taxes, it's not a matter of if Texas' are low but how low they are — and whether Perry played any role in making them that way. But lost in that concession is the fact that Texas' taxes are not, on the whole, among the country's lowest. At best, the state's in the middle of the pack in terms of the actual tax burden on its citizens, and it's actually more expensive than most in business taxes. He's right that it's a small-government state: lots and lots of small government.

As for that government-is-the-enemy card he keeps playing: Perry's personal political biography includes episodes of naked disdain for local prerogatives, leaning instead toward a top-down governance style that, at times, has alienated both farm folks and city dwellers, including some Republicans.

But critics who don't know Perry well, including those obsessing over his recent oratorical flubs, have said one thing about him that is not true, according to those who have faced him in battle. The reality? He's no lightweight. Enter the ring assuming that, and you could wind up on the mat counting stars.

"When we see him govern, he's awful," says Jason Stanford, a campaign consultant who ran former Democratic state Congressman Chris Bell's unsuccessful race against Perry for governor in 2006. "But when we see him campaign, he is a genius."


You've seen it by now, on the campaign trail or at the debate podium: Perry cocking that cowboy smile and vowing to "get America back workin' again." He will do it by making Americans more like Texans, who are not, he says, "over-taxed, over-regulated, and over-litigated." In Washington, he says, he will force government to do what he claims he made it do in Austin: "get out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does."

It's a powerful 10-second pitch. Of course, smart, well-paid wonks employed by his opponents are working hard to create a good 10-second anti-Perry pitch. But the truth about Perry's "Texas miracle" can't easily be packaged in a soundbite.

At the heart of Perry's so-called miracle is his state's edge in job creation. He cites U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers to show that Texas added a million jobs during his 11-year tenure as governor, while the national economy shed 2.45 million jobs. On the surface, it seems like a slam dunk.

But those numbers, heavily cherry-picked for effect, are where the wonks will go when the wonks get going. Perry's cheery picture ignores a darker storyline in which unemployment under his regime has increased much faster than the national rate. It's now at a 24-year high, putting Texas in the middle of the pack among states.

Perry's favorite window in time is from June 2009 until now — "since the recession ended," if you believe it ever did. He keeps saying Texas produced 40 percent of all the new jobs in America during that period, and the BLS numbers back that up. What Perry doesn't say is that, in that same time frame, Texas unemployment ran up from 7.7 percent to 8.5 percent — the highest since the devastating 1987 Texas oil and gas bust — while the national unemployment rate dipped from 9.5 to 9.1.

How did Texas add jobs and suffer greater unemployment at the same time? By growing its population. During Perry's tenure, the state's population has grown at more than twice the national rate, the larger share of that growth coming from the birthrate — in other words, not only from folks flocking down to Texas for all those jobs Perry's supposedly making. New jobs in Texas have not kept up with new Texans.

Bernard Weinstein, an energy economist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a consultant to national corporations and associations, says the Texas climate is more business-friendly than the national one, and he gives Perry credit for being "a good steward of Texas values." But even Weinstein balks at giving Perry credit for the state's economy. Much of Texas' good fortune, he says, derives from what the rest of the country has been doing for the past 50 years.

"Texas is in the middle of the country," Weinstein says. "That used to be a liability. Now it's an asset. As the population has moved west — as we have developed highways and air corridors and air conditioning — all of a sudden, instead of being in the middle of nowhere, we're in the center of everything."

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73 comments
goal software
goal software

Texas is the second largest province in the USA in square foot area as well as population. The emerging property value here is quite high in comparison to other states in the country. Celebrities and business tycoons from all over the world are investing in Texas ranch lands. Several private real estate players are investing in plenty of money to develop the ranch lands in Texas. This has made Texas a lucrative investment option. Anyone looking for a delightful vacation can pass some really productive time in the ranch lands of Texas. These farm lands are located in the vicinity of Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Let's make B.O. a one term president and save the US from class warfare.

Harvey
Harvey

Vote GOP make the rest of the Country like Texas, a mess, however if you listen to the lies enough you will feel better, remember what happened the last time we had a Republican Majority in Congress and the White House!

Oren
Oren

If it's so bad here, how come everybody is moving here?

No fantasy, we got the jobs and the economy and trust me people don't move here for minimum wage. Writer is a liberal democrat, no? The writer is a fantasy writer. Loser.

jarhead001
jarhead001

Rick Perry is twice the moron that George W. Bush was, and he is still a joke as a presidential candidate. As the guvernor of Texas, he oversaw 234 executions, living up to the comment by the comedian Ron White, that the state of Texas was installing a fast lane, for their executions. We The People of America donot need this redneck asshole even close to the White House, even as a gardener.

Robsatease
Robsatease

I would never read this rag. This story has no merit. I just wanted to comment on the fact that Yahoo has featured this made up story for several days now proving the collusion that exist in the liberal media. A conservative never lies only liberals. Viva Michael Savage!

Salis4898
Salis4898

Another future war criminal from Texas?? I think NOT !!

Ron
Ron

do the Webster thing illeagel means criminal

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

All Illegal aliens should be allowed to apply for work permits but only while they are outside the United States in their home countries. This type of program (guest workers) has worked very well for many years in economically successful places such as Switzerland, Singapore to name a few. Once their work visa expires they must immediately leave the country. If the females become prgnant, they are immediately returned to their home country. commit any violation of ANY law (even "J" walking) and they are deported. If they attempt to re-enter the US illegaly, they are automatically placed on a list of permanently banned from entry into the US. Are you with us?Just enforce the Immigration Laws and treat all people who want to enter the US fairly. Don't show preference to those that entered illegally. Justice for a

Chris Norman
Chris Norman

Why doesn't everyone have an opinion on $1.4 trillion in bailouts to banks...that lent out their money, lost it when the poop hit the fan and then got it back at our expense? Instead we are critical of stupid crap. Hello, they essentially took like $2000 bucks from every US citizen and gave it to the banks! People awkward up! They borrowed money to pay the banks back!

HITCH
HITCH

I think it is interesting that All the headlines in the Yahoo page have changed a few times over except this one story still just sits at the bottom..?? hmmm

Jason
Jason

Rick Perry doesn't stand a chance of winning the GOP nomination. He is a failure.

The Texas governor has virtually no power to veto any legislation, and his stances on the criminal illegals buck GOP values.

I agree that the border needs to be secured and that the military is not the best way to go. I am sorry that the criminal illegals have such a difficult life, but their solution doesn't help them. It makes their problems worse.

I fully believe that comprehensive immigration reform is one solution to the criminal illegals issue in America. The DREAM Act, unfortunately, will never pass Congress.

I think I will vote for President Obama next year.

Joe
Joe

I am annoyed by New Times Headlines. How did they get the priveledge of being on yahoo headlines? New Times is border line treason, and anti American.

Bubba
Bubba

Texas is a Fantasy Land - No state income tax.

The Phoenix New Times is a rag - not even good for wiping your butt with.

JD B
JD B

The guy is an effin' racist moron. His whole life is one big fantasy land. Put George W in some red shorts and get him some big white gloves and shiny yellow shoes and there you go.

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Two six foot fences, no barb wire on top. Place them 100 yards apart., Warning signs on the fences every 200 feet. AND LAND MINES IN BETWEEN THE FENCES. Problem solved.

joeferlyn
joeferlyn

I agree, we do need to secure our border without dependency on the US military. I am a veteran and the military should only be used when you are willing to "kill people and break things". I don't know if a soldier would relish the order to kill mexican women and children fleeing Mexico, which, after all, would be the the only purpose for having US soldiers there. As for the border; how is it that politicians say that it is unreasonable for us to build a wall along our southern border (approx. 3500 miles long) when the chinese were able to build one (approx. 5500 miles long) through 200 B.C.? Is it because they were more advanced then than we are now or just that they possessed the "will" to do so?A "wall" is a more humane option that "shooting families". You may decry walls and what they represent, but they work. You only need to look at China, eastern europe and the western Israeli/ Palestinian wall.

joeferlyn
joeferlyn

Nice hit piece by a democrat. This author has no such vitriol for his own albatross; Obama.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

Why in the hell do you idiots want the military on the border to fight the cartels? The cartels are not on the border. They are inside Mexico and inside the United States. Deploy the military all over the Unitad States to get all of the drug addits responsable for making the cartels rich. The military is not the solution to all of the problems in this Country, people that want the military involve all of the time most likely don't have a family member in the military like I do.

Kapena
Kapena

Rick Perry is fading fast in the polls, a has been. Wondering why the author chose him as a topic rather than Romney or Cain? Perry doesn't stand a chance of winning the nomination.

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Would someone please explain to me how we will decrease unemployment by granting amnesty to some or most of the 12,000,000 people who entered the United States by illegal means?

Smile
Smile

Despite anything of value that he has done in Texas, the one thing that negates it ALL is his assertion that the US should send military into Mexico to fight the drug cartels. Why on earth would anybody vote for someone who, as President, would rather we get involved in yet ANOTHER WAR, rather than seal off our borders. The lack of logic on this is mind-boggling. That we, as a country, should be told we are in wars fighting "terrorism", yet we leave our border poorly enforced? Millions of illegals from Mexico and who knows where else sneak across that border. . . . including those who are crossing for to further terrorism. Yet, we are told that it is illegal for those border states to take matters into their own hands and devise their own laws/procedures to stem this flow of invaders, drug runners, gangs and threats to our orderly way of life. Why ANY politician would think we should jump completely over the obvious steps needed, and go full into military invasion of Mexico, or military being sent onto Mexican soil, is insane. We SHOULD involve our military, but in putting them on the border and absolutely defend it against any and all who attempt to cross it illegally. Shoot to kill. Once we seal off the border, we will find that much of our problems coming from the south will dry up. The other half involves getting serioius about penalizing employers, landlords, and others who hire and abet the illegals in their attempts to live here. We as a country need to support our own citizens FIRST, secure our borders, purge our welfare programs of all illegals who are cheating by accessing those benefits, stop the spanish classes and educate in English, allow schools to check citizenship, deny drivers licences for illegals, create a process by which illegals can be turned in, and make it damn difficult if not impossible to exist here illegally. Our politicians don't have the GUTS to do what is needed, and this blowhard, Perry, is the worst candidate for the office of President.

Dina
Dina

Maybe they just want to have some kind of a competition as to in which "colony" there are more Empty-homes....pretty ridiculous, huh?

Dina
Dina

Maybe the whole purpose as to WHY this country was "formed" (centuries-ago), is being somewhat challenged with this uproar on Wall St..

Dina
Dina

there are always going to be the pros/cons; the "actions" versus the "what ifs"; the "maybes & the "maybe-nots", & on & on, and in the end, one just hopes that their major concerns have a very positive outcome. that benefits ALL...................

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

All Illegal aliens should be allowed to apply for work permits but only while they are outside the United States in their home countries. This type of program (guest workers) has worked very well for many years in economically successful places such as Switzerland, Singapore to name a few. Once their work visa expires they must immediately leave the country. If the females become prgnant, they are immediately returned to their home country. commit any violation of ANY law (even "J" walking) and they are deported. If they attempt to re-enter the US illegaly, they are automatically placed on a list of permanently banned from entry into the US. Are you with us?Just enforce the Immigration Laws and treat all people who want to enter the US fairly. Don't show preference to those that entered illegally. Justice for all?

Bobby
Bobby

In fact, most of the jobs created in Texas, have gone to illegal foreign nationals, and what followed was the usual wage depression of those jobs, which many Texans love who exploit them with less than a living wage, and make the Texas taxpayers pay the rest when the illegal alien seek state aid. In the meantime, there is nothing at all, that is cheaper for the consumer of those services. Too bad millions of Americans haven't a clue.

BostankyKanky
BostankyKanky

"When we see him govern, he's awful," "But when we see him campaign, he is a genius."

hmmm...reminds me of that mutt in the White House right now.

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

Jim Shutze's article on Governor Perry, while interesting, informative, and worthwhile, misses a key opportunity and may have missed the mark in certain respects.

Shutze confirms that Texas produced "40 percent of all new jobs in America" from June 2009 to the present but attributes the state's rise in unemployment during this period to the high birthrate during Perry's tenure, noting that the number of new jobs "have not kept up with new Texans".

But births during Perry's eleven year tenure obviously didn't enlarge the labor force: you'd have to go all the way back to 1991 and before to address workers who were 18 or older in 2009. Unemployment there rose despite significant job gains because the number of residents seeking jobs rose still faster.

It wouldn't be surprising if workers moved to the state, post-recession, attracted by both the comparative vitality of the economy and the comparative friendliness of the state toward Hispanic immigrant labor. Workers go where the jobs are and where they're welcomed (or at least not chased off); and if Texas couldn't fully keep up with the inflow of migrant labor, the accomodation of that labor contributed substantially to job growth there. A September 2010 study by the Pew Hispanic Center found that even during the recession (2007-2009) the population of illegal immigrants in Texas increased by 200,000 (contrary to national trends). It wouldn't be surprising if the migration continued or even accelerated in the wake of SB 1070 and similar initiatives elsewhere, post-recession.

http://www.dallasnews.com/news...

On the other side of the coin, Perry's otherwise laudable moderation toward immigrant laborers may be part of a cynical political calculus in which immigrant labor is viewed as a cheaper (and easier) solution to the challenge of job growth than raising taxes to fund competent public schools and universities -- though political leaders could adopt both courses. According to FactCheck.org, Texas is tied with Mississippi for the highest percentage of hourly workers paid at or below the minimum wage.

http://www.factcheck.org/2011/...

Schutze's analysis of state and local taxes is excellent. If low taxes were the way to grow jobs, then Nevada, which has no corporate or personal income taxes, would be an economic powerhouse. Instead, Nevada's unemployment rate has been rising and as of August 2011 was 13.4 percent.

Nevada is remarkably similar to Arizona in certain respects: its model of economic growth depended heavily on housing construction and population growth, and the retail expansion dependent on the latter, and on tourism (Nevada has gambling and Arizona has the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Flagstaff, and snowbirds).

The decrease in state revenues that Arizona's recent tax cut package (conservatively estimated at $538 million) will lead to should greatly concern Arizona citizens. A fraction of them have already taken effect, with more due to kick in when the temporary sales tax expires in 2014. Even local boosters like developer/economist Elliott Pollack have pushed forward Arizona's economic recovery to 2015-2016 and the date keeps receding.

If the latest round of budget spending cuts were like pulling teeth, what will the next few years be like when the revenue cuts phase in and we have to do it all again every year? This is where New Times could do its Arizona readers a great service: a detailed, hard-hitting analysis of state legislators' fiscal folly and its soon to be felt consequences. Is this part of a conservative strategy to "starve the beast"?

teknik1200
teknik1200

what a great idea! stick it to the home owner. That's one way to get the homeowners to give their houses back.

In alaska property tax is also insane but there is no state sales tax or income tax.

unacceptable
unacceptable

I live in Texas. Yes our economy is better than most if not all the country. Rick Perry is not perfect. No one is. Take a long look at the country's unemployment rates. They are not transparent. Just because you are not applying or collecting unemployment doesn't mean you are not unemployed. Our cost of living is lower than a good portion of the country. We take care of ourselves. We also use federal resources as a last resort, not first.Oh geez, those going on about Bush...give me a break. He inherited Clinton's mess. Surplus he did not have. Do not listen to the news reports. Research and have something to back up what you say. Texas is a great state.

Oren
Oren

1,400 murders a year here and 10 executions a year, we're getting horribly behind. Faster, faster.

jarhead is a redneck aZZ himself.

Dogbiter
Dogbiter

There's nothing made up about this, your fucking idiot. why don't you and your right-wing ass move to mississippi. or travel in time back to nazi germany. you'd be right at home with the goose-steppers. keep eating russell pearce and joe apaio's shit.

Oren
Oren

Yeah, LBJ did screw up Vietnam, didn't he?

Bubba
Bubba

Why should we waste money on warning signs?

Vierotchka
Vierotchka

Psychopathic comment. Sick, sick, sick.

Zona
Zona

When that wasll was built in china, they didnt have the technology to build passage ways...organized rail systems, under the wall back then, the way they do now.

You built a 20 foot wall now days, they will have a 21 ft ladder or better yes, a -20 foot tunnel under it.

Walls do not work in this century. Get real. And I am retired military as well.

Vierotchka
Vierotchka

Above comment demonstrates severe cognitive dissonance.

Bobby
Bobby

I can agree with you on this.

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Let's stop car theft. Everybody stop buying cars. Same logic as this guy.

BostankyKanky
BostankyKanky

I don't have clue but the people demand both! And we want free health care, and all of the white women.

Bobby
Bobby

Illegal aliens never,ever, compensate for any shortage, but rather they create shortages, of jobs, money, and social services.

Weiserman
Weiserman

Holy crap, ENOUGH with the shovel ready non-sequiturs. There are so many reasons why Nevada is a toilet bowl that have NOTHING to do with low taxes. Try Harry Reid for one.

And tourism and construction makes it REMARKABLY similar to Arizona? What state hasn't tried to make use of those?

And news flash, every desert and mountainous state has obvious population and job issues due to the inherent problems that arise with dealing with the geography. Businesses aren't going to move to a desert that can't tap into a good water source, and they're not going to move to a mountain where snow piles up 6 feet and higher.

This is why Prescott, despite its quaint prettiness, will never be as bustling as Phoenix which, despite its summer heat, is far more business friendly.

As for the rest of your argument, I just have one thing to say: California.

Practically taxing the air you breathe has really lifted them out of the red, right? Oh, wait, people are leaving the state by the thousands DAILY because it continues to be a nanny to 5th and 6th generation welfare moochers, free schooling illegals, and catering to corrupt politicians that only wish to line their pockets; to keep you in your place so that they can remain in theirs, all the while convincing you that you're getting "taken care of". I forgot.

With that said, I am not a Perry fan. No way. I think he's got more issues than I ever want to know about. But people need to stop thinking that taxing is some sort of "fix-all" button. The biggest issue we face is that our government is taking 40 cents of your dollar and has no idea in hell on how to save it.

Because they want to spend it as fast as possible and then convince you they're doing something productive. This is what California did every time it raised taxes. What a joke.

Bobby
Bobby

Funny, I have met four people that used to live in Texas and they came to California for a job, saying it's hard to find a job in Texas, and the pay in Texas is crap!! Honest, not making this up. One guy worked at a Walgrens. The other at a Wallmart.

twain307
twain307

Utter nonsense. The debt, under Clinton, was being paid down at such a rapid rate that Greenspan warned of the negative consequences of doing it too fast. Link to his comments;http://www.federalreserve.gov/...

Kdelectric
Kdelectric

They only move here so they can get somewhere else quick like Las Vegas or San Diego!

Bobby
Bobby

Agree compelely. You are 100percent correct in your analysis. Mr. Pulsifer is in some kind of leftist dreamworld.

 
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