The 10 Worst Things About Rick Perry (And Why It Would Be Really Bad If He Runs for President)
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So much for that economic miracle. Texas's economy is more of an example of the mess the entire country is heading for unless we see a dramatic change in priorities.
Back in March, the Texas state capitol in Austin saw thousands of protesters descend on the grounds for a rally against a proposed $10 billion—yes, billion—in education cuts to the state. Representatives from 300 school districts, students, teachers, parents, and others marched and called on Perry to use the state's “rainy day fund” to cover the shortfall in schools rather than lay off a projected 189,000 education workers.
Of course, the budget cuts are still coming.
Aside from the impact such layoffs will have on the economy, since a good chunk of the new jobs Perry touts as part of his economic miracle were in schools, there's the actual impact on the state's students. It's not just public schools that take a hit—universities will see their budgets slashed and financial aid eliminated for 43,000 students.
One Texas school attempted to trademark its mascot and sell advertising space on its school buses and Web site in order to raise desperately needed cash. The New York Times called Perry's impending cuts “the largest cuts to public education since World War II."
As Dana Goldstein noted, Texas is a right-to-work state where less than 2 percent of teachers are unionized. There's no big bad teachers' union to be the villain here. Just workers about to be out of jobs, and kids—and the economy--suffering the consequences.
7. Follow the money
The question voters should ask first of any candidate is “Where's the money coming from?” Particularly in the post- Citizens United age, with the birth of the new “super PACs,” groups that can accept unlimited donations from individuals and corporations to pay for political advertising and organizing, campaigns for office are getting expensive and someone's got to be footing the bill.
Since ads for Perry are already airing in Iowa before he's even made up his mind to run, it's worth a look at who's paying for Perry propaganda.
Jobs for Iowa, the PAC paying for the Iowa ads, was registered with the FEC on June 21. Its treasurer is Robert Jentgens, who formerly worked on Mitt Romney's 2008 campaign. Also registered are Veterans for Rick Perry and Americans for Rick Perry, as well as Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC (though after Rick Perry's primary challenge from the Tea Party-backed Debra Medina it might not be fair to assume that they have any interest in Perry).
Americans for Rick Perry raised $193,000 in just eight days in June, the majority of which comes from Harold Simmons, who Dave Montgomery at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram called “a Dallas multibillionaire who is developing a controversial nuclear waste disposal site in West Texas.” They claim another $207,000 in July.
“Environmentalists say that Simmons' donations to Perry and state lawmakers helped fuel approval of the waste disposal site despite concerns over groundwater contamination, but a spokesman for the project said the application was rigorously vetted and approved only after added protections were included.”
Perry's last election campaign, his third, generated more than $77 million in contributions, as Texas allows unlimited individual donations as well. Montgomery wrote that Perry's donors are “ the elite of Texas business and industry,” including Simmons and Houston builder Bob Perry (no relation).
Paul Blumenthal at the Huffington Post wrote that the Americans for Rick Perry PAC was the first time a super PAC had been used by supporters for a campaign that doesn't, technically, exist yet. If Perry's well-connected supporters in the energy and finance industries, among others, are this excited about him now, imagine the money that will flow if he actually announces.