With this post, I continue a short series consisting of my analyses of the Republican candidates for the nomination for President. To recap, I’m limiting my discussions to three candidates: Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain. The structure of this series consists of a collection of posts concerning what I don’t like about the candidates and then a series of what I do like about them. I’ll conclude with my endorsement of a single candidate. In this post, I’ll talk about what I don’t like about Governor Rick Perry.
Economy: Perry’s economic success may well have stemmed largely from Texas’ blessings of energy wealth: oil and gas. To the extent that this is true, it’s a model that won’t play well nationally, even though similarly freeing, and acting on, other national regions’ energy wealth would be important to a national recovery. The real problem here, though, is his lack of experience with a diversified, or a national economy. The Texas economy has enormously diversified since the oil bust of the ’80s, but it beyond mineral wealth and ranching, it’s really only added in significant degree a technical capacity for telecommunications, computers, and networking. This is an important component, but the Texas economy still lacks the diversity of the nation’s economy. The other problem here, though, is Texas’ low government support for research and development. In an environment needing reduced spending, and in an environment with a growing popular recognition of the need for downsizing government generally, government support for R&D remains a legitimate component of government support for infrastructure.
Policy: Many of Perry’s policies are sorely lacking, and they carry overtones Big Government Knowing Better that are indistinguishable from President Obama’s. His view that Medicare should be gotten rid of and the matter turned over to the states is one. The question of government support, at any level, for medical insurance is a national question and must have a national answer—even if the answer is to get rid of Medicare and privatize health insurance altogether. Further, leaving Medicare to the states does not provide a market solution for reducing the cost of either health insurance or health services; on the contrary, it prevents both industries from entering a free, competitive market.
Perry’s response to sexually transmitted diseases—in this case Human Papillomavirus (HPV)—was nothing but Big Government in action. His decision to require school girls to be vaccinated against this cancer-causing virus, to be vaccinated without allowing parental input, and to require it by diktat—by Executive Order—was reprehensible. He says he regrets that error and has learned that lesson, and he acknowledges that he should have gone through the Texas legislature to achieve that. But two things about this incident remain unclear to me: for all his words about that having been a mistake (and I believe him to be sincere), he made the mistake, and I worry that he might make a similar mistake on the national level. The second thing that’s unclear to me is his view of the legislature. Does he believe he should have gone to the legislature on this matter (or any other) because he recognizes that body as the people’s representatives and that it speaks with their voice, or does he view the legislature as another arm of Big Government, to tell the citizenry what they may do?
Perry’s handling of immigration is…uneven. He does have a very good record of providing security to the Border Area, despite tacit, and active, Federal obstacles to security there. His provision of schooling to illegals, at in-state tuition rates, and so on the taxpayers’ dimes, is misguided at best. Those who decry this as just making the area a magnet for illegal immigration are right. That it’s children of illegals that are affected adds to the heart-wrenching nature of the situation but does not alter the failure of the policy. But to defend this by insisting that those who disagree with him are heartless is no different than Progressives accusing Tea Partiers who disagree with Obama of being racist.
Communication Skills: Tossing off sound bites like “Social Security is a Ponzi scheme,” or Bernanke’s behavior “borders on treasonous” makes for good copy, but it doesn’t communicate well the problems he sees with those matters. Also, recall his defense of his higher education for illegals policy just above. In the end, what’s the value of sound principles and good ideas for implementing them, if they can’t be explained to a skeptical (at best) opposition in the public and in the Congress?