Two years ago, John McHale, an entrepreneur from Austin, Texas, who has given millions of dollars to Democratic candidates and causes, did something very unusual for him: He wrote a $50,000 check to a Republican candidate, Rick Perry, then seeking a third full term as governor of Texas. In September 2010, he did it again, catapulting himself into the top ranks of Perry’s donors.
Over three terms in office, Perry’s administration has doled out grants, tax breaks, contracts, and appointments to hundreds of his most generous supporters and their businesses. And they have helped Perry raise more money than any politician in Texas history – donations that have periodically raised eyebrows in Texas but, thanks to loose campaign finance laws and a business-friendly political culture dominated in recent years by Republicans, have only fueled Perry’s ascent.
“Texas politics does have this amazing pay-to-play culture,’’ said Harold Cook, a Democratic political consultant.
Rick Perry’s cronyism exposes him as just another right-wing progressive Republican who believes in the pretense that any government action can produce valuable private sector jobs. One only needs to look at Perry’s own state of Texas to see that his record is nothing to boast about: 1 in 14 out of job Americans are in Texas, almost 1 million Texans are unemployed, and 9.5 percent of Texans are earning less than minimum wage.
The meme that Texas is a job creator is as valid as the idea of Bank of America is a job creator. Bank of America, a recipient of the massive bailouts from Bush-Obama administration and a huge chunk of the $16 trillion corporate welfare from the Federal Reserve, is cutting 10,000 jobs.
Perry’s prescription for Texas (and America) is in direct contrast to his “small government” rhetoric. Texas’s debt under Perry grew a staggering 281%, a much faster rate than the nation he hopes to lead. He was also a big proponent of TARP, even writing a letter to Nancy Pelosi urging her to support that bailout. Texas also benefited greatly from the Recovery Act, which Perry used to cover 97% of the massive $6.6 billion deficit Texas incurred in 2009. Using New York’s or Nevada’s taxpayer money to plug your state’s deficit shortfall while touting your state’s record is not a “miracle,” but deception.
The real miracle is not Texas’s unremarkable economic record or Perry’s creative accounting; the real miracle is that 54% of likely Republican voters still support big government, right-wing progressives. Jack Hunter was wrong: this is not the end of right-wing progressivism.
I am not even sure why Republicans are enamored of Perry (or Romney for that matter). There is already a progressive-corporatist, warmongering, George W. Bush clone in the race: his name is Barack Obama.
CORRECTION (Aug 21, 2011): Bank of America never received “stimulus” money, but received billions more of bailout money. Also, Perry used the Recovery Act to balance his state’s budget, not TARP as the original piece claimed.