Shikha Dhalmia lays out the good and the bad. She forcefully defends Perry’s record on job creation, but also nails Perry’s record on three points that Tea Party supporters and Libertarians should note carefully: an increase in government spending, accepting stimulus money, and links to crony capitalism.

REASON: “However, if liberals underestimate Perry’s jobs record, conservatives overestimate his fiscal record. Perry boasts that he has plugged the recession-induced hole in the state budget three times without raising taxes. Still, for the 11 years Perry has been in office, overall government spending has gone up by 4.2 percent every two years, compared with 2.3 percent under George W. Bush, after controlling for inflation and population growth. Perry’s supporters dismiss that comparison, noting that nearly half of this spending is tied up in federal programs he can’t control. The general revenue spending that he does control, they claim, has gone down for the first time since World War II. Moreover, Perry patched the 2011-2013 buget less with long term structural reforms and more with one-time fixes and budgetary gimmicks such as deferring payment to public schools by one day so that it isn’t technically due till the next budget cycle.

But if Texas has lost control over its budget, the blame lies with Perry—and his Republican legislature—both of whom have aggressively scavenged for federal grant dollars. Indeed, Perry has habitually touted the great subsidies he has extracted from Uncle Sam for state programs ranging from homeland security to disaster relief. Even as Perry condemned President Obama’s stimulus and bailout package, he actively courted these funds, plugging the $6 billion hole in his previous budget almost entirely with stimulus money.”

He also has a crony-capitalism problem. Grants from two funds he created, ostensibly to seed tech startups and lure companies, found their way into the pockets of his campaign contributors. This won’t go down well with voters weary of government waste and abuse, especially since Perry had final authority over the funds, and not an independent agency as is usually the case. Worse, Perry refused to axe these programs even to plug the deficit.

[Read more of Shikha Dhalmia’s “Rick Perry: Economic Wizard?” at]


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