Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that spending more state money on inspections would not have prevented the deadly explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant that was last investigated by Texas environmental regulators in 2006. Excuse me for asking, but ... how would Perry know? You can't prove a negative.
I seldom find myself in agreement with the tea party, but they are dead right in their skepticism of debt. This is why you can make the argument that Rick Perry is not a true conservative. He won't raise taxes, but he doesn't mind going deep into debt--and retiring debt is about the most expensive thing government can do. His proposal to capitalize $41 billion in debt to build roads is rash. Our grandchildren will be paying to retire the bonds in the 103rd Legislature.
The problem with the tea party is that it doesn't want the government to do anything. Raise taxes? Hell no. Raise vehicle registration fees? No, no, a thousand times no. We might as well go back to 1948 and reprise the campaign to "get the farmer out of the mud." It is disingenuous for tea party leaders to say, “Any vote that adds debt to this state – any vote for any program that’s going to be leveraging debt or adding debt — will be considered by the tea parties of Texas as a vote for a tax increase.” It's the absolutionist attitude of the tea party that drives me crazy. I have to say, though, it is quite delicious to see Rick Perry get a taste of his own medicine.
At last, Rick Perry has decided to back more spending on transportation. His plan, which was developed by a group of trade associations (Realtors, Texas Association of Business, Texas Oil and Gas Association, and Texas Motor Transport Association) and announced today at a meeting of the Texas Lyceum, calls for raising $41 billion over twenty years. I can foresee two problems with the plan. The first is that motor vehicle sales taxes are general revenue. If you dedicate it to road projects, how are you going to fund other areas of the government -- in particular, the big-ticket items of education and health care? Democrats (and pro-education Republicans) are going to go nuts if a major source of funding education is shifted to highways.
Wayne Slater has a piece in the Morning News today that touts Rick Perry's viability for a political comeback. His thesis is that Americans love a good comeback story, and he cites the examples of former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and former New York congressman Anthony Weiner. But his showcase example is Tiger Woods, who has regained his position as the top ranked golfer in the world, and, of course, is seeking to win a major championship that has eluded him during his comeback (as of press time, he was 3 under).
We've been through this before, so permit me to ask the question: Can anyone make the case that Rick Perry has a realistic shot at the Republican nomination for president? Okay, the National Journal did (sort of), but I can't. The race for the 2016 nomination will take place in two brackets. Call one the establishment bracket, which includes Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Jon Huntsman, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Bob McDonnell. The other bracket is the tea party bracket, where the contenders include Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and, yes, Ted Cruz. This is the bracket where Perry would compete, but he has no chance to win it. Rubio, Paul, and Cruz all have substantial followings; Perry does not.
In the current issue of Texas Monthly, I wrote about the prospects of Battleground Texas in a column titled "Am I Blue?" Writing in the National Journal, Ronald Brownstein speculates that one politician has the power to turn Texas Blue. That politician is ... Rick Perry.