PERRY DOESN’T FEEL YOUR PAIN…. It’s understandable that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) would want to argue that his economic policies have been effective — he’s seeking re-election next year, and he’s facing a very difficult primary challenge.
But he hasn’t thought his strategy through. This week, Perry told the Houston Chamber of Commerce that Texas, under his leadership, is “recession-proof.” He noted an unidentified report claiming that Texas would be the first to come out of the recession. Perry said he responded to the report by asking, “We’re in one?”
So, in the midst of a brutal recession, Perry not only isn’t concerned, he thinks Texas’ economy is just fine. Texas Monthly‘s Paul Burka noted the potential political consequences of such a remark: “This gaffe is going to stick…. You cannot be callous and cavalier when people are losing their jobs and their homes. I don’t care how ideological the Republican base is. Unemployment in Texas just reached the 8% mark. Everybody knows someone who is suffering in these times. Everybody has lost part of their life savings. It could cost him the race.”
Politics aside, if Perry sincerely doesn’t even recognize the economic downturn, he must be living in an impenetrable bubble. Texas has been very hard hit by the recession, and the state’s most vulnerable families have struggled to keep their heads above water. Texas is the worst state in the country for residents without health care coverage, and is among the worst for poverty rates.
What’s more, Lee Fang reminds us, “Texas would have a much higher unemployment rate if it were not for President Obama’s stimulus program, which has provided billions in investments and over 70,000 jobs so far. Nonetheless, Perry not only considered rejecting the stimulus, but has called it a ‘burden.'”
If there’s any justice, this will be a tough one for Perry to live down.