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Foster: Where's Rick? Running for president

By John D. Foster
Nov. 1, 2013 at 10 p.m.

Where in the world is Rick Perry? News sources report he's been in Israel shoring up his foreign policy credentials before running for president in 2016.

For Texans who haven't seen much of the governor in recent months, it's been a mystery because Perry wasn't leading the tea party charge during the recent government shutdown. He's been a leading opponent of federal policies and regulations for years and even wrote a book about it, titled "Fed Up!"

But folks who follow the news realize Perry is letting Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis battle for the Texas governorship while he pursues a higher office, the presidency. Perry also has been expanding his travel itinerary to various states to tout Texas as a business and tax-friendly state where companies should relocate their operations. He's journeyed to California and New York and recently visited Missouri and Maryland, all states with Democratic governors.

Ostensibly, these trips are considered economic development and not campaign swings. But he finally responded to a chorus of critics who say his out-of-state trips are costing Texas taxpayers millions of dollars in travel expenses and security. Perry's latest ventures reportedly were paid for by campaign funds or private donations, apparently to head off complaints to the Federal Election Commission.

Perry usually precedes these trips with media advertising that's led to contemptuous responses by local officials. And one governor, Martin O'Malley of Maryland, returned fire with a feisty op-ed entitled "What Maryland does better than Texas" after Perry came calling in September.

"Perry and his like-minded Republican governors subscribe to the slash-and-burn economic philosophy - a belief that 'less' will somehow become 'more.' In Texas, he has implemented this vision with gusto, cutting taxes and slashing funding for critical middle class priorities such as public schools, higher education, health care and infrastructure," O'Malley wrote.

"The results? Texas ranks 49th in high school graduation, 10th in the rate of poverty and 50th in the percent of residents with even basic health insurance," he added.

O'Malley also said Perry likes to promote job creation in Texas, but that he leaves out a critical point. The "jobs miracle" is driven by low-paying, non-sustainable jobs. This year, Texas is tied with Mississippi for the highest percentage of hourly paid workers earning equal to or less than the minimum wage, he noted.

"The fallacies of his arguments don't end there. Even on Perry's preferred metric for expansion - taxes - businesses fare quite well in Maryland," he said. O'Malley explained that the Anderson Economic Group ranks Maryland as having the seventh-lowest business tax burden, while Texas ranks 17th.

The conservative Tax Foundation ranks Maryland as having the eighth-lowest tax burden on mature firms while Texas ranks No. 12, he added.

O'Malley lauded his state for cutting government spending while investing in schools which Education Week has ranked No. 1 in the nation since 2007. Meanwhile, the state has modernized infrastructure and invested in growing sectors of the economy such as biotechnology and life science, clean energy and advanced manufacturing, he noted.

One thing O'Malley doesn't compare is the size and complexity of Texas with a diverse population and immigration problems unique to border states. But Perry should research his topics before stirring up resentment in a host of states where he may have to campaign in the 2016 primaries.

One statement with which O'Malley concluded his article is definitely something Perry should agree to:

"The United States is the world's greatest job-creating, opportunity-expanding democracy … We must resist those who say we will be the first generation of Americans to give our children a country of less. Instead, we must commit, together, to the urgent work of creating more jobs and more opportunity. We can do that only by making more - not fewer - investments in the future."

<em>- John D. Foster, a Carthage resident and former editor of the Panola Watchman, is a regular contributor to the Saturday Forum.</em>



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