Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rick Perry "Superstar"

     Governor Rick Perry's entrance into the 2012 presidential race carries with it an abundance of questionable claims.  He maintains that the economic "success" of Texas is a direct result of his policies.  A closer examination of this "Texas miracle" is certainly in order!
     As of August, 2011 Texas does have an 8.2 unemployment rate, which is lower than the national average of 9.1%.  However, there are 25 states with a lower unemployment rate than Texas.  According to a March, 2011 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.54% of hourly paid workers in Texas are paid below the minimum wage versus a 6 % national average.  As of 2011, 26% of Texans do not have health insurance, versus a 17% national average.  Hmmm, not a great start here.  I'm sure it gets better!
     In 2009, Perry signed Grover Norquist's pledge to oppose and veto any/all efforts to increase taxes.  In past years, Perry had utilized a variety of tax mechanisms/increases to pay for public schools.  Now, in 2011, Texas ranks 50th in the nation in "kids" with a high school diploma by age 25.  Texas has the 43rd lowest high school graduation rate, ranks 49th in verbal SAT scores, and 46th in average math SAT scores.  It looks as though the Perry/Norquist tandem has cost kids dearly.
     Perry has supported tort reform to limit malpractice lawsuits against doctors, and in 2003 he sponsored a constitutional amendment to cap medical malpractice awards.  While this doesn't help "the little guy", the giant pharmaceuticals (among others) most likely appreciate it.  That brings us to 2007, when Perry issued an executive order mandating that Texas girls receive HPV vaccince (which protects against human papilloma virus--deemed to be a contributing factor in certain strains of cervical cancer).  Gardisi, manufactured by Merck, was the only HPV vaccine approved by the FDA at that time.  Apparent financial links between Merck & Perry have been reported, including a $6000 campaign contribution and Merck's hiring of former Perry Chief of Staff Mike Toomey to handle its Texas lobbying work!
     Naturally, Perry does not believe there is valid scientific proof of global warming.  He opposes any regulation of greenhouse gas emissions citing the "devastating implications" for the Texas economy.  He has attacked the Obama administration's handling of the recession, and turned down $555 million in stimulus money for unemployment insurance.
     He has labeled the Texas economy as "recession proof", yet has taken 23 foreign trips (to bolster business) from 2004-2010, trips that included a vacation on Grand Cayman and an "education policy retreat" in the Bahamas.  To date, the state of Texas has footed over $1 million to cover the cost of "security details".
     Governor Perry does achieve a high "success rate when it comes to executions.  As of August 10th this year, 234 have been carried out since Perry took office.  He's apparently so fond of the process that in 2004 he vetoed a ban on the execution of mentally retarded inmates.  He certainly appears to struggle with the concept that individuals who are likely innocent ought not be executed.
     Perry has a long history of making questionable remarks; recent examples include suggesting Texas might secede, accusing the Federal Reserve of treason, and stating Chairman Ben Bernanke would be treated "pretty ugly" if he ventured into Texas. 
     Looked upon by many as the GOP's savior, he does fit the bill in many respects.  In addition to positions outlined above, he's anti-choice, gets an A-plus rating from the NRA, and he demonstrates a keen ability to cloak himself in religious right trappings & dogma.
     However, a close examination of his record should serve as a wake-up call for the rest of the country.  It tells a far different story than the one Rick Perry likes to spin.  I, for one, pray earnestly for public scrutiny!

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