The more I look at Rick Perry, the more he seems to have all the worse attributes of George W. Bush on steroids.
He’s already running on a “Texas Miracle,” which is that his state somehow escaped the worst of the recession. In 2000, George W. Bush ran on a “Texas Miracle” also, which was that education reforms that went forward during his administration — which I dimly remember he had actually opposed, but I may be confused about that — had resulted in miraculous improvements in test scores and dropout rates. You might remember that these miraculous results came about because school principals were strongly incentivized to report phony numbers.
Well, something like that is going on with Perry’s Texas Miracle. It is true that Texas has had stronger job growth than other states in recent years. But it has had stronger population growth as well, which means its employment rate remains high. Its unemployment rate in June 2011 was 8.2, which means it has the 26th lowest unemployment rate of all the states, or pretty much exactly average.
At the same time, Texas has very high poverty rates compared to other states. The most recent data I found was for 2009, but at that time 17.2 percent of the population of Texas lived below poverty level, giving it the 9th largest population in poverty in the nation. Wages are low in Texas; in his column today Krugman says almost 10 percent of Texans are earning minimum wage or less. And have I mentioned lately than a quarter of Texas citizens have no health insurance?
Gov. Perry says lots of businesses are moving to Texas, and there’s some truth to that. Texas offers cheap land, cheap labor, and minimal regulation. It’s like having a third world country here in our own backyard. So much more convenient than Bangladesh!
And under Gov. Perry, Texas promises to become even more competitive. Thanks to a whopping budget shortfall and politicians’ aversion to raising taxes, teachers are being laid off by the truckload. As the education level of the state declines, Texas is poised to become the number one supplier of domestic and agricultural migrant workers in America! Hey, who needs Mexico?
Update: From Steve Benen:
Iâ€™d add, by the way, that Texas has also benefited from state government spending thatâ€™s risen â€œfaster than inflation and population growth,â€ and spending in Texas increased even more under Perry than under his predecessor, George W. Bush. Perry has also taken on more state debt at a pace that eclipses the national government, â€œpaying for much of [Texasâ€™] expansion with borrowed money.â€
The only thing we don’t know he would do as much as or even worse than Dubya is start wars.