For those concerned with a philosophically conservative, free market approach to government and economics in political leadership, perhaps look no further than Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who at the Republican Presidential Debate, hit most of the core principles that ought to be important to conservative and Republican voters: Responsible military policy, free market economics and aggressive entitlement reform.
Going into the GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library the spotlight was hoisted on Rick Perry as the new kid on the block and the frontrunner. As a debater in the presidential setting, Perry has far less experience than many of those in the race, especially former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Even if one were to concede that Perry did not carry himself as a slick debater, when examining his debate rhetoric closely, it becomes clear what Perry believes and why he might be the best choice to lead a new movement within the Republican Party, and more importantly, the nation.
Perhaps the most thoughtful insight into the economic philosophy of the Lone Star State chief were his comments during the debate about chastising the use of government spending to stimulate the economy. President Obama, Perry argued, “has proven for once and for all that government spending will not create one job. Keynesian policy and Keynesian theory is now done. We’ll never have to have that experiment on America again.” Perry appears not to believe in government manipulation of the economic system to spur job creation and activity in the economy. While Perry does not say it outright, he de facto endorses a more Austrian approach or a pure free market approach to economics.
His criticism of government involvement in economic activity is also evident in his beliefs about how jobs are created: “You want to create jobs in America? You free the American entrepreneur to do what he or she does, which is risk their capital, and I’ll guarantee you, the entrepreneur in America, the small businessman and woman, they’re looking for a president that will say we’re going to lower the tax burden on you and we’re going to lower the regulation impact on you, and free them to do what they do best: create jobs.”
Perry though, is by no means a free market purest—at least on the state level—his use of enterprise to lure businesses to Texas is problematic, but he makes it clear through his rhetoric frequently that states should choose policies that work best locally. One example of this were his debate comments on health care policy, “we understand that if we can get the federal government out of our business in the states when it comes to health care, we’ll come up with ways to deliver more health care to more people cheaper than what the federal government is mandating today with their strings attached, here’s how you do it, one-size-fits-all effort out of Washington, D.C.”
Perry’s harsh rhetoric on Social Security also demonstrates that he will push hard as president for entitlement reform. His comments accurately calling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” have been widely publicized and criticized but during the debate he did not back away from his statements even when challenged by Romney: “It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you’re paying into a program that’s going to be there. Anybody that’s for the status quo with Social Security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids, and it’s not right.”
Perry did not go as far to call for changing the Social Security system during the debate like former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain did when he astutely advocated for the Chilean approach to Social Security. “believe in the Chilean model,” Cain said, “where you give a personal retirement account option so we can move this society from an entitlement society to an empowerment society.” Perry has not demonstrated a willingness to advocate the same approach as Cain perhaps because of the problems it caused the President Bush while in the Oval Office.
As for military policy, Perry advocated a more sensible approach showing a skepticism towards imperialistic approaches to foreign policy. “I don’t think America needs to be in the business of adventurism,” Perry said. “Americans don’t want to see their young men and women going into foreign countries without a clear reason that American interests are at stake. And they want to see not only a clear entrance; they want to see a clear exit strategy, as well.”
Emphasizing differences in foreign policy with the Obama administration Perry said “We should never put our young men and women’s lives at risk when American interests are not clearly defined by the president of the United States, and that’s one of the problems this president is doing today.”
Characterizing Perry’s first debate performance as blockbuster would be a stretch but when dissecting his rhetoric one might be led to believe that Rick Perry is the real deal.