Huffington Post

New Huffington Post Column

Rick Perry is a Socialist in a Secessionist Costume

Texas governor Rick Perry will win the Republican presidential nomination. I could be very wrong about this, but the modern history of Republican presidential politics vindicates the prediction.

Republican primary voters, along with the marketing-obsessed power elite driving the clown car, have historically flocked to candidates at every level who are just like Perry. Not that Perry invented the paradigm, but he fits precisely into the well-crafted paper doll persona devised sometime around the era of Reagan's ascension when wonky button-down conservatives began their slow extinction in favor of a new breed of crazy-eyed ideological poseurs and performers.

Republicans like dress-'em-up candidates. They like uninformed, twangy voiced, squinty, Steve Austin types who have no apprehensions about creepily dressing up in garish cowboy or fighter jock regalia. They're the political version of Renaissance Fair performers and Civil War re-enactors -- only, Republicans are more effective at the ruse because voters are actually convinced the costumes are genuine. (With sincere apologies to Ren Fair enthusiasts and re-enactors.)

But in the case of Rick Perry, his shit-kicking Texas gomer uniform is overshadowed by the fact that he's disguising himself as a governor who hates the stimulus and government interference in state affairs, and with such vitriol that he twice endorsed secession as a means of escape.

Despite threatening secession -- a move that previously claimed the lives of 600,000 combatants and the taking up of arms against the United States by its own citizens in defense of slavery -- Rick Perry actually accepted billions in federal stimulus dollars for Texas. Not only does this serve to indict Perry's fakery, but it's also a major gateway into Republican hypocrisy. Herein lies the central attack against the Rick Perry candidacy. All of the red baiting demagoguery against the "socialists" on the left, the Republicans and their newest celebrity, Rick Perry, were among the first in line for "big government handouts."

From the beginning, Rick Perry blasted the president's stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

"Voting for the TARP in my opinion is even worse than voting for the stimulus; and they're both very bad," Perry said in February, 2009 on the Mike Gallagher radio program.

The first secession remark came in March 2009, a month after the signing of the stimulus into law, when Perry said, "When we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation. And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we're kind of thinking about that again." Of course, the law said Texas could break into five separate states -- not secede from the Union, as Perry claimed.

In April of 2009, Perry instructed "fellow patriots" to rally against the "runaway spending" in the stimulus while attending tax day tea party events. "We will not stand for our pockets being picked, our children's future being mortgaged, our rights being taken away," the governor said.

During a speech at one of those tax day tea party rallies, Perry pitched the idea of secession again, "There's a lot of different scenarios. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that." The crowd erupted, chanting, "Secede! Secede!"

Perry's 2010 book also eviscerated the stimulus, "We are fed up with bailout after bailout and stimulus plan after stimulus plan, each one of which tosses principle out the window along with taxpayer money."

Perry's current presidential campaign website blasts the stimulus by name: "Rick Perry believes that rising deficits, record debt and failed stimulus spending have jeopardized the future of our country, and he will take his proven budget-cutting record to Washington."

Several days ago at a campaign rally in South Carolina, where the Perry candidacy could win its first serious primary, Perry said, "Washington's insatiable desire to spend our children's inheritance on failed 'stimulus' plans and other misguided economic theories have given us record debt and left us with far too many unemployed."

Despite all of these remarks (and others that I don't have room for here), Rick Perry is responsible for Texas being the second biggest state recipient of ARRA stimulus dollars -- ostensibly "redistributed" from tax payers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and the president's home state of Hawaii.

In 2010, Perry was confronting a state budget deficit of $6.6 billion. A constitutional amendment mandated that Perry balance the budget somehow, but instead of using a "rainy day" fund established with state money, Perry decided to tap a different source to fill the void. The stimulus. According to Politifact, Perry and the Republican-controlled Texas legislature requested, received and used $6.4 billion in stimulus money to help balance the budget. 97 percent of the budget shortfall was filled with stimulus money.

There's more.

In addition to the $6.4 billion to balance Rick Perry's budget deficits, Texas also used $5.7 billion in stimulus money in 2010 for "programs such as highway and bridge construction, child care development programs and weatherization assistance."

That's a total of $12,100,000,000 in total stimulus money for Rick Perry's Texas in one year alone. Nearly seven percent of the total Texas budget in 2010 was stimulus money. That's a lot of "principle" being "tossed out the window." If Perry had, in fact, seceded, I wonder where that money would have come from. It stands to reason that a military confrontation with the United States would have created massive, unprecedented deficits in Texas.

As of the end of June this year, Texas asked for and accepted $17.4 billion in stimulus money with Rick Perry presiding over the state.

This is should be the argument against Rick Perry and the Republicans. They're closeted Keynesians. Using their own vernacular, they're socialists, and they're lying to everyone about their hypocritical true nature almost every time they fire-eat in public against the scary "misguided" generational theft being perpetrated by the White House and the Democrats. On a personal level, Rick Perry has even accepted more than $80,000 in federal farm subsidies while positioning himself as the viable tea party candidate running to be chief executive of a nation from which he wanted to secede because of "runaway spending." The contradictions are staggering.

Steve Benen wrote a brilliant blog post recently outlining how the administration can pass more stimulus funds as a means of creating jobs and boosting the recovery. Simply put: pass every spending request being proposed by Republicans. All of it. And there are literally hundreds of requests. Keynesian economics as endorsed by the Republican Party. Then, as they've done over and over again, let them continue to pose for photo ops in their phony-baloney cowboy costumes while holding gigantic stimulus checks.

Listen to the Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show on iTunes, with Bob Cesca and Chez Pazienza.
Bob Cesca's Awesome Blog! Go!