More on "The Perry Agenda"
Sat October 3, 2009 10:28 am

A commenter who calls himself/herself "Cow Droppings" posted this response to my discussion of "The Perry Agenda," in which I wrote about Perry's stated priorities for state government [a two-thirds vote to raise taxes; making permanent the tax cut for small businesses that pay the margins tax; criminal penalties for employers who hire illegal aliens; a vague reference to purging laws that hinder entrepreneurs] and my own [more financial support for public schools; expansion of CHIP; raising the gasoline tax and indexing it to inflation; and recruiting top faculty from other institutions to come to Texas universities]. Here is Cow Droppings' commentary:

For Paul it is politics if you want to limit taxes and spending. Good policy is only when you raise taxes (gas tax), spend more on subsidized benefits (CHIP), pour a bunch more money into the public school system despite the additional $13 billion that has gone in under Perry with no mention of how that would produce greater results, and ignore how Perry just signed a budget putting $1.2 billion more into higher ed — including a quarter billion more for financial aid.

In other words, a higher tax, bigger spending agenda is leadership, and a low tax, low spending agenda is politics. Sounds like despite past protestations, Paul truly has a Democrat[ic] view of the world.

* * * *

Here is my view of the world, which I regard as neutral, one that ought to be common to both political parties:

There are always two agendas in government. One is a political agenda. The other is what I would call the permanent agenda. The political agenda differs from one politician to the next. The permanent agenda is defined by circumstances. It describes the ongoing substantive issues that confront a political unit. These are issues that exist because of their critical importance to the future. In the case of Texas, we all know what the permanent agenda is.

It hasn't changed since I first went to work in the Texas Senate. Maintaining a good business climate. Better public schools. More families with health insurance. Solutions to traffic congestion that the public will accept. Upgrading the quality of our public universities while keeping them affordable for the middle class. Inadequate water resources for a rapidly growing state. A need to increase electric generating capacity to keep up with population growth -- but we continue to build environmentally harmful coal plants when we have vast quantities of cleaner-burning natural gas available.

We ignore the permanent agenda at our peril. Our failure to address it will inevitably have an adverse effect on our state's future.

My concern with Rick Perry is not that he has a political agenda. All leaders have a political agenda. I disagree with the 2/3 requirement for raising taxes because it ties the hands of future legislatures and makes it extremely difficult for the Legislature to address the concerns of future leaders of the state. Otherwise, if Perry wants to exploit the illegal immigration issue, or curry favor with small business owners by making the margins tax cut permanent, or purge laws that are unfriendly to business (depending upon which laws he wants to purge), I'm not going to complain about it.

But here is what I am going to complain about: Other than maintaining a good business climate, his proposals of last week completely ignore the permanent agenda. Signing a budget that the Legislature has written is not the same as leadership. When I say that his agenda is entirely political, I mean that it is tailored to appeal to conservative voters, not to provide leadership for the state as a whole.

"Cow Droppings" says, "For Paul it is politics if you want to limit taxes and spending. Good policy is only when you raise taxes (gas tax), spend more on subsidized benefits (CHIP), pour a bunch more money into the public school system...." No, not exactly. It would not be politics if Texas had high taxes and high spending, but of course we don't. We have a low tax burden and a structural deficit in our budget. The Tax Foundation, which does annual evaluations of state tax burdens, ranked Texas 43rd (lowest) in 2008. Perry is prescribing diet pills for anorexia.

"Cow Droppings'" final comment is, "In other words, a higher tax, bigger spending agenda is leadership, and a low tax, low spending agenda is politics. Sounds like despite past protestations, Paul truly has a Democrat[ic] view of the world."

It's a sad state of affairs when a Republican says, in effect, that addressing the state's long-term problems is a Democratic view of the world.

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