Governor Perry Likes the Stimulus Package Now? What Happened to the Tea Party?

The land of opportunity still exists in America, and it's in Texas. At least, that's what Governor Rick Perry told nearly 200 folks gathered this afternoon at Union Station for the Texas Economic Development Summit.

Less government results in fewer hurdles for businesses, Perry said. "Bottom line: The word's out on Texas. The word is good."

After wrapping up his 10-minute speech by saying Texas is the best place "on earth" to live, work and raise a family, we caught up with Perry to answer a burning question on our mind.

Sure, there are a lot of things about Perry we don't quite understand, but we especially can't get a handle on his rhetoric regarding the stimulus funds. Perry is the face of the tea party movement, which rails against the stimulus package. Heck, he even entertained the idea of secession if government spending gets out of control. The governor also pats himself on the back for balancing the budget and rejecting $550 million in stimulus money for unemployment insurance, while his campaign refers to Kay Bailey Hutchison as "Kay Bailout."

It all seems to make sense until you realize that the Legislature used $14 billion in stimulus dough to balance the budget during this year's session. (House Democratic Leader Jim Dunnam discussed this issue in an op-ed piece for the Austin American-Statesman last week.) So it seemed natural to attempt to get the governor to descramble these mixed messages. Jump for his attempt, but mind the gymnastics.

Governor, you've referred to Senator Hutchison as "Kay Bailout," but you received $14 billion in stimulus money to balance the budget. Is that hypocritical at all?

I will correct you on just one issue here. I never referred to the senator as anything other than Senator Hutchison or Kay.

Your campaign has.

Well, then you need to be correct in your analysis there.

I am very respectful of our senior senator -- always have been, always will be. Umm. [Pause] Texas sends billions of dollars to Washington, D.C. every year. We would like to get our fair share of it back. Unfortunately, we don't.

We would like to have our borders secure with Mexico, and the dollars spent in Texas whether it's on additional national guard troops or whether it's with technologies that can be spent along the border. Washington, for whatever reason, refuses to send the dollars back to the state of Texas that we send up there.

We are a major donor state in this country. I don't think that's particularly good for the country -- a state that is leading the job creation, leading the country economically -- for them not to be able to access the dollars that they send to Washington, D.C. Now, if the dollars are coming back with strings attached, we're gonna analyze them, and if it's gonna cost our business community more, we're gonna say, "Thanks, but not thanks."

We are not going to be put in a position of putting government programs in place that are gonna cost us more money than what is coming in. But the idea that we would not take dollars coming from Washington, D.C. to help build our economy would be rather irresponsible. So I don't have a problem in the world with our decision making. I think it's been balanced and thoughtful.

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Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten