4. Perry’s transportation policy has provided Texas the most expensive solution possible for building new roads.
According to a US Department of Transportation report, Texas leads the nation in toll road projects since 1991:
Texas has the most toll activity of any state. This is not surprising in light of the Texas DOT policy of giving priority consideration to tolls for new capacity and aggressive promotion and institutionalization of public-private partnerships.
According to an open letter posted by the Texas Tea Party PAC, traditional public toll roads in Texas charge 10-20 cents per mile, but the new style of toll roads promoted by Texas DOT “bear almost no resemblance to traditional, taxpayer-controlled turnpikes.” Characteristics of these new toll roads include: relying on “innovative financing schemes,” placing control of many Texas roads in the hands of Cintra (a multinational corporation headquartered in Spain), charging up to 75 cents per mile, and limiting competition with the new toll roads.
The Economic Policy Journal reports troubling issues with Cintra: the North Tarrant Express contract has a clause that if the project is unprofitable, the state of Texas will buy back the project. In addition, a man who served as a Perry legislative liaison when the Cintra contract was awarded worked for Cintra both before and after the period he worked for Perry.
Perry claims to favor low taxes, but – in the case of Texas transportation – he avoided a fiscally conservative pay-as-you-go approach and instead imposed a far higher price tag downstream.
Many voters may prefer the Ponzi scheme of Social Security to the Perry scheme of creative government financing.
5. In 2002, Perry promised to reform school financing, but by 2011 school financing is in such a mess that school districts in Texas are faced with signficant layoffs.
In the wake of a $4 billion reduction in school funding that was backed by Perry, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association has estimated that job losses at public schools could reach 49,000 by the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year. Perry disclaimed responsibility for any possible job losses, saying:
The lieutenant governor, the speaker, their colleagues aren’t going to hire or fire one teacher, as best I can tell. That is a local decision that will be made at the local districts.
And with the teacher layoffs contributing to the state’s unemployment figures, Texas now has the highest unemployment rate since 1987. It’s a small consolation that jobs have been created during Perry’s tenure, while the actual rate of unemployment has soared to 8.5%.
Perry’s record in tackling school finances does not bode well for his ability to deal with more complex financial problems such as Social Security and the national debt.
7. Perry will likely have a tough time selling himself to the large bloc of senior voters, because of his views on Social Security.
The Office of the Governor reports a speech Perry delivered in 2010:
The assault on those boundaries [of limited, constitutional government] continued with Roosevelt’s New Deal, which honestly had little to do with ending the Great Depression. Instead, the New Deal’s legacy is a glut of federal programs, including a bankrupt social security system, that Americans understand is essentially a Ponzi scheme on a scale that makes Bernie Madoff look like an amateur.
In his book “Fed Up!”, Perry described Social Security as:
A crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal, in stark contrast to the mythical notion of salvation to which it has wrongly been attached for too long, all at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government. (p. 50)
And, in the debate at the Reagan Library, Perry said:
You cannot keep the status quo in place and not call it anything other than a Ponzi scheme. It is. That is what it is. Americans know that. And regardless of what anyone says ‘Oh, it’s not and that’s provocative language,’ maybe it’s time to have some provocative language in this country.
It’s hard to reconcile these provocative comments with Perry’s later statement in the Orlando debate:
Let me just say first, for those people that are on Social Security today, for those people that are approaching Social Security, they don’t have anything in the world to worry about. We have made a solemn oath to the people of this country that that Social Security program in place today will be there for them.
I think it is likely that many seniors will have a hard time believing that Social Security is both a bankrupt Ponzi scheme and that they “don’t have anything in the world to worry about” if they’re relying on that Ponzi scheme for retirement.