Texas Gov. Rick Perry was interviewed by Human Events editor Jason Mattera over the weekend after addressing the RedState Gathering in Austin, Tex. Here are the highlights from the interview. If you didn’t catch Gov. Perry rip into Janet Napolitano in Jason’s first interview, click here.
HUMAN EVENTS: What economic policies pursued by Democrats do you find most threatening to Texans?
Perry: Washington’s mandating changes, blackmailing us with our own money. For instance, here’s … $550 million in early ’09 to help offset the increase of unemployment insurance in Texas. That is a fund that is paid for with a small tax on all the businesses of the state of Texas and historically, anytime the economy goes down, unemployment rates go up. In 2003, Washington sent $6 million here to help offset that. We accepted that. We sent billions of dollars to Washington, D.C., and getting part of that back is how our system historically has worked.
So, the current administration, $550 million, but here are the strings attached. Here’s how you’re going to expand the program. Here’s how you’re going to run the state of Texas from our perspective. And I told him “No, thank you.”
We would rather not have the money than have the strings attached. Because we knew that allowed them to put the changes into place that when the money went away in approximately two years, the strings would still be attached and the cost for our small businesses would be even more.
So they stood up with me, NFIB, Texas Association of Businesses said “No thank you.” So, the biggest concern that we have is from Washington, D.C., and their insatiable appetite for creating new programs and spending money that hadn’t been earned yet. Deficit spending is the single worst policy that I see coming at the state.
HE: The New York Times had a story on your gubernatorial race yesterday and I want to read you a quote from the story and have you respond: They said that your contest…your tightening of the race comes as Texas feels the effects of the national economic crisis weakening; one of Mr. Perry’s chief arguments for reelection that his fiscally conservative policies have buffered the state from the worst of the recession.
Perry: You cannot be the No. 1 exporting state in the nation, you cannot have as global an economy as what Texas has and not be impacted by the policies and the deficit spending that we’ve seen out of Washington, D.C. We have never said anything other than, “We’ve got our challenges.” But we would rather be in our position than any of the other 50 states. And Texans know that. We’re still creating jobs in this state. While Washington continues to be drowned in red ink and creating more and more debt, we have been fiscally conservative and Texans know by and large that we have a balanced budget amendment in Texas.
We’re required to balance our budget and we will reduce our spending and not put taxes and burden the job creators in this state. We did it in 2003. We’ll do it in 2011. And the result in 2012/2013, I will suggest to you, will be the same as it was in 2004/2005. We made a very quick recovery. We went from a $10 billion shortfall to an $8 billion surplus in about a 15 month period of time. The reason it happened is that we didn’t raise taxes. And the job creators know that that’s what they can count on here. So, I don’t get confused that the New York Times understands what goes on in Texas. It doesn’t surprise me that they don’t.
HE: Speaking of tax cuts, should the GOP hold their ground and push to not allow any of the Bush tax cuts to expire?
Perry: Absolutely; I think it’s very important to send a message to those that would risk their capital. I think one of the biggest problems that they have nationally is that entrepreneurs have no idea what shoe is going to drop next.
The instability of Washington from a standpoint of sending a message to entrepreneurs is a great problem. Make those tax cuts permanent. That would be a powerful message to the people who make decisions everyday about whether or not they’re going to go out and make jobs.
HE: So don’t compromise on the top tier. But what if that’s the only vote available?
Perry: I think this is a very powerful moment. Unless you haven’t been paying attention and you are a Republican, I would make sure that I’m voting to cut taxes and to lower spending.
Because if you’re compromising on that, I’m afraid that the people of the country are taking really good notes right now. I’m not afraid that they’re taking good notes. I’m glad that they’re taking good notes.
HE: We’ve seen an unprecedented assault by this administration on state’s rights. Obamacare was just one instance where people of states are now mandated to do something through the federal government. Do you ever see a point in time where the states just get fed up with these mandates coming from Washington and they just ignore them?
Perry: I think the fed up time’s already happened. Working within the system is where the vast majority of the states are operating now. And I think we will continue to see that. Here’s what I suspect: If we are successful with the elections on the 2nd of November, and as Washington realizes that Americans are paying attention, they are engaged and they no longer can force these onerous programs onto the states, not only will we start seeing them turned back, in 2012 you will hear people running for the presidency, talking about how they will try to make Washington less and less consequential on people’s lives.
I think this whole country is fixing to turn a rather substantial corner and start dismantling the destruction of the Constitution that has been going on for the last 65 years in this country. So, that’s not only my hope, I think it’s a reality and a real possibility.
HE: Is there anything more politically that could happen to this country where it serves as an inspiration or impetus that says “you know what, I would consider running for President”?
Perry: I’m real focused on my election at hand.… There are 37 governorships being contested and being a seasoned governor who has led a state that inarguably is, if not the most powerful state, one of the most powerful states economically. As these new governors come on board—Democrat and Republican, I might add—who understand the power of the 10th Amendment and we collectively come together to push back on Washington, D.C., to explore all the possibilities of competition between the states, That, from my perspective, is my highest and best use over the foreseeable future.
I feel confident that there is a man or a woman in this country that will get up and proclaim that they want to be the President of the United States and get back to the real principles of the Constitution and the real principles of the Constitution make the states stronger.
I’d rather stay in Texas and compete against my other 49 brethren and let Washington get back to standing a strong military, which they do an admiral job of; defending our border, which they are abject failures at; and maybe even getting back to delivering the mail on time and on Saturdays. Until they get those three right, please don’t come down to our states and tell us how to run our business.