Rick Perry: A leader at our moment of crisis

Rick Perry: A leader at our moment of crisis
by John Colyandro & Brent Connett

Our nation is in a crisis: much of the sclerotic political class in Washington has proven incapable of tackling our greatest challenges.  Greece stares us in the face, yet the President fails to embrace his own debt commission and the so-called Super Committee could not agree to one spending reduction.

So as the campaign for the Iowa caucuses nears its apex, we’re urging conservatives to thoughtfully consider Gov. Rick Perry’s full record and his willingness to try to bring fundamental change to Washington.  In one of the early debates, a competitor for the nomination cleverly insinuated that the Governor’s exemplary record was pure happenstance, that the Governor was dealt “four aces”.  Even if true – which we’d argue that it’s not – it’s nonetheless necessary to play the hand that’s dealt, and Rick Perry has done it well.

The conservative legislative majority in Texas, working cooperatively and energetically with Gov. Perry, set Texas on a path that has distinguished it from most of the country.  Indeed, just prior to the start of the latest session of the Texas Legislature, which concluded in June this year, Gov. Perry, Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs and 79 state legislators signed the Texas Conservative Coalition’s “Pledge with Texans.”   The Pledge was a five-point agenda to balance the state budget without raising taxes, secure elections from fraud, push back against federal intrusion, encourage the free market, and protect our border.  They kept their word by winning major policy accomplishments on all five items.  Much of the agenda is now law.

Notably at Gov. Perry’s initiative, the Legislature passed “loser pays” tort reforms which will protect businesses and individuals from frivolous lawsuits.  The impact of this lawsuit reform has the potential to be significant: Texas already has one of the strongest business climates in the nation and is home to 51 Fortune 500 companies. “Loser pays” will allow capital to be put to more productive uses, such as creating jobs, instead of transferring wealth to trial lawyers.

A fundamental belief in small, effective, constitutional government underpinned their commitment to resist federal overreach.  With Gov. Perry leading, conservatives took decisive action in a number of areas.  They passed: an interstate health care compact that will allow the state to take control of its health care system if Congress approves it; legislation urging Congress to enact a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and legislation to push back against over-zealous regulation by exempting incandescent light bulbs from federal regulation if they are manufactured and retained in Texas.

Policy successes are never inevitable.  Among other things, they involve a determination to pass legislation that takes a serious, direct, and principled approach to the challenges facing a state or nation.  Gov. Perry has played an integral role in Texas’ success as a state.  By contrast, The Wall Street Journal pointed out in a recent editorial that “New York and California were once America’s economic growth engines, but their political leaders seem determined to keep them sputtering,” noting that “their Democratic Governors are now pushing big new tax increases in the name of soaking the rich…”   The Journal’s editors specifically castigated New York Republicans: “Equally worthy of scorn are the Republicans who run the state Senate who buckled under union pressure…”

Leadership is about making choices, staking claims based on fundamental principles, pressing reforms when the time is at hand, and resisting capitulation even when it is politically expedient to do so.  Gov. Perry has led and deserves praise, even while acknowledging that his record isn’t perfect.   But no politician’s record can ever be ideal, especially one who has been governor of a large state as long as Gov. Perry.

Gov. Perry has worked decisively to restore and strengthen constitutional principles, instill fiscal discipline, secure property rights, and free the economy so that Texas can take advantage of the hand that it’s been dealt.  In the context of our crisis, America needs a president who will do the same for nation.


John Colyandro is Executive Director of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute; Brent Connett is Communications Director.  The opinion expressed here is the authors’ and not that of the organization; titles for identification purposes only.