Gov. Rick Perry’s run for president has lost a lot of steam due to his early debate performances. However, the dark shadow cast by these performances on Gov. Perry’s ability to win the GOP nomination and un- seat President Obama cannot negate certain facts. Gov. Perry’s record as an accomplished governor and pro growth executive makes him highly qualified to be a very good president, and is worth a second look. It is a record that only matters to win the GOP nomination and presidency if he can communicate it and justify his qualifications to voters. It is also a record Mr. Obama could only dream of during his first on the job executive training experience which has been as President of the United States.
Currently Gov. Perry’s candidacy is swirling around the drain as he is at the bottom of polls going into the upcoming primaries. But, there is an obvious strategy Mr. Perry could use to earn a second look and buoy his candidacy back to top of the pack.
Gov. Perry often speaks about the policies in Texas he has implemented that has led to record job and economic growth in that state. However, the bold strategy and key point Gov. Perry should emphasize in his campaign is that his success is due to leading on the ‘American Idea’ and economic freedom, not a Texan economic model. The ‘American Idea’ includes limited government, individual liberty derived from our creator, equality of opportunity to enhance and promote merit based upward mobility, and traditional American values. Economic freedom involves the free movement of capital and labor and resources to areas where they promote greater economic prosperity.
The unique combination of the ‘American Idea’ and economic freedom conceived the American Dream. This is the reason why no other country has ‘dream’ following their name. It is also the reason why we need a President who has proven he can lead to make sure it will survives.
Gov. Perry’s window of opportunity to re-emerge as a front-runner is getting narrower as he heads into crucial primaries. His current low ratings in the polls have led to less attention to his ideas by the media. They have assumed that he has lost his chance of becoming the GOP nominee. However, Gov. Perry has done well in recent debates and very well in the last night Mike Huckabee’s hosted forum in South Carolina. He also has some very good campaign videos touting his record and character. If he keeps up a good debating trend, he could get more attention as being a serious candidate and gain credibility as being electable in the general election.
By campaigning on his record to promote ‘Restoring the American Idea and Economic Freedom’ to make America great again, Gov. Perry could inspire much needed optimism at a time when most Americans believe we are on a decline as a country. It could also crucially make use of the small window Mr. Perry has left to complement and boost his other creative proposals: Cut, Balance and Grow, his energy plan Energizing American Jobs and Security, and his plan to Overhaul Washington. President Obama partly won in 2008 based on the optimism of the ‘hope and change’ mantra which have not only failed to give hope but has changed America in the direction of a declining and broke European socialist style state.
Rick Perry is able to not only promise to be a leader in delivering economic prosperity, he has done it, and will do it for America. Many can promise such results but few have the exceptional record of doing it like Rick Perry. His challenge will be to distinguish himself from his fellow GOP candidates in that regard. For this Gov. Perry will have to be more effective in educating voters about his experience and record of applying the virtues of the ‘American Idea’ that fostered economic freedom and growth. It will be crucial to re-acquaint and justify why these virtues should resonate with every voter and why they are vital in moving America forward in a very competitive 21st century.
Such a strategy could prove to be a huge benefit to the multi-tiered stages of this race. The first tier would be toward winning the Republican nomination by energizing the conservative and Tea Party base. The second tier would be winning the presidency by swaying independents and some voters normally associated with the Democrat base.
Even though there are other former governors in this race touting their record in leadership, Mr. Perry as governor of Texas for the last 11 years is the only candidate who has actually been leading his state through the great recession. In the last 10yrs more jobs have been created in Texas than the other 49 states combined. Since June 2009 almost 40% of the jobs created in America has been in Texas. Texas faired better than most other states during the recession and the housing crisis. As opposed to liberal policies that over the last 20 years forced banks to increase the number of sub-prime mortgages in the rest of the country, Texas faired better due to a state rule since 1998. It limited mortgage borrowing to 80% of, appraised value of the home and reduced overleveraging. It also is among the few states that is home to more jobs than when the recession started in December 2007. For seven years running CEOs polled by Chief Executive magazine have rated Texas first in business development and job growth. Texas boasts 58 Fortune 500 companies, which is more than any other state. These are clear examples of economic freedom at work.
Texan economic output exceeds Mexico’s and Australia’s and rivals India. It has also led exports among all 50 states. Texas has been a magnate for companies and people from other states. So much so that last year California’s Democratic lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom flew to Austin with a delegation to ask Perry now he lures companies from California. What they found was a state with a fair and predictable regulatory climate that promotes investment growth and thus jobs. Capital whether as human or investment is highly mobile and migrates to places like Texas where the opportunities are larger and the burdens are lower. It also has a fiscally responsible and small government led by Rick Perry.
Texas also has a legal system that does not allow for over-suing. Gov. Perry tort reforms and medical-litigation rules have caused malpractice-insurance rates to fall and thus the costs of healthcare have fallen. Since that over 20,000 doctors have moved to Texas. Compared to New York which since 2003 has seen medical liability rates increased by more than 60%; in Texas they have dropped by 54%. During that time over 1,200 physicians have moved from New York to Texas. Texans have more than 2 million added patients visits a year since the reforms. It should also be noted that tort reform if implemented in any national healthcare reform bill would substantially help to reduce overall health care costs and encourage more availability of doctors. Tort reform was not part of Obama-Care.
The California delegation might also have noticed that Texas has neither personal nor capital gains tax and in 2010 Gov. Perry proposed a constitutional amendment to the Texas constitution to require two thirds super majority to legislate tax hikes. The low tax or elimination of some others in Texas is another reason capital has flowed into that state to increase investment and jobs which has in turn increased the tax base and increased tax revenue.
In addition, Texas is a Right to Work state, which gives workers the right to join a union, or not. This makes Texas competitive in attracting companies from other states whose growth flexibility and competitiveness is otherwise hampered by heavy union requirements and rules. Union power in those states often feeds off the dues they force from workers, which are funneled to politicians as donations who in turn create the regulatory burdens on companies to please the unions. This symbiotic relationship and cycle between politicians and unions often hinders the companies’ freedom to grow and stunts job creation potential, hence many go to Texas where they can avoid that hindrance.
California the grand experiment of liberal big government, high tax and excessive regulatory policies meanwhile struggles with high budget deficits and low growth. If high taxes and regulations were the key to increased revenue or growth, California and other high tax states would be booming. They are not because they have abandoned the elements of the ‘American Idea’ such as economic freedom and limited government. The contrast between California and Texas in economic growth further distinguishes the general direction Mr. Perry would lead America versus the path President Obama and liberal democrats are taking us.
The Obama administration has veered from these ideals of the American Idea and economic freedom. Obamanomics is making America more like California and less like the outcomes in Texas with more government, extremely powerful unions, more central planning and higher taxes. America is heading towards the fate of failed nation states like Greece rather than countries that are embracing more economic freedom such as Canada and former socialist countries. See my article: ‘What Obama can Learn From Canada-Effective Economic Policies not Tax Hikes.’
There is a dire need for someone with the ‘will do’ attitude like Rick Perry to lead America back to prosperity, because, sometimes a promise of a ‘can do attitude’ just won’t cut it. Economic freedom involves more than the free movement of capital and labor and resources to areas where they promote greater economic prosperity. It empowers individuals to be productive, protects property rights, expands freedom to trade internationally, minimizes government regulation of business, supports sound money and relatively low taxes, enforces the rule of law, encourages entrepreneurship, allows freedom to fail and fosters voluntary exchange. The American Idea of liberty and the economic freedom it nurtures not only gave birth to the American Dream, this concept has motivated individual upward mobility, inventions and attracted ambitious talent from all over the world to America. However, we cannot maintain our leadership in the world by having leaders who are complacent in the decline of America like we have now.
In 2000 the U.S was ranked 3rd in the world behind only Hong Kong and Singapore in the Index of Economic Freedom which is published annually by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. In the latest 2012 publication released last Thursday by Heritage, the U.S has further declined and now we are tenth behind countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and Mauritius. Last year, the U.S was ranked ninth. It is the fourth consecutive year that the U.S has declined on the index. Countries such as the U.S and Europe that historically led the world in economic freedom now led the global decline due to excessive government regulation and stimulus spending. Edwin Feulner president of the Heritage Foundation and co-editor of the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday explaining the new publication: A Step Backward for Economic Freedom in 2012.
The good news from this publication is that economic freedom has continued to increase in Asia and Africa. Mr. Feulner notes in the WSJ article the vital linkage between advancing economic freedom and eradicating poverty. Conversely, a decline in economic freedom will lead to a lower standard of living and slow growth in a country like the U.S. Un related to this report, 9 countries in the European Union lost their triple- A rating from Standard and Poor’s a few days ago.
The decline in economic freedom is normally synonymous with the growth of government because its expansion hinders the mobility and vitality of capital. If the U.S continues its path away from limited government and economic freedom, there will be a transition to a more limited people and limited potential as a nation.
The need to reverse this trend reinforces the need for someone like Rick Perry to be president. He understands and has proven to lead on the concept of limited government and economic freedom to deliver the prosperity they provide.
In the 21st century America will have to compete with more economically free and growing economies such as BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and possibly CIVET countries (Columbia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) and many more. Not only in trade and industry will America have to compete, but also for scarce recourses such as energy and human skills such as engineering, science and entrepreneurial investors who often become pioneers.
This challenge highlights another reason why Mr. Perry is highly qualified among the field of candidates to be president. He has succeeded in both the role as a leader of limited government of a large state, and as a leader who has created the climate where private enterprise strive, create jobs and flourish. In that role he also fostered the competitive environment where capital such as investment or human and natural recourses from other states and countries gravitate to maximize prosperity. Simply put, leading on the American Idea and economic freedom is conducive to economic growth, and empowers the upward mobility and standard of living of individuals especially the middle class and the poor. It is a sharp contrast to President Obama’s vision of big government that seeks to redistribute wealth through class warfare, higher taxes and sewing resentment of success.
At a time when Federal spending is out of control, Mr. Perry has also proven that he can keep spending down. State government spending in Texas is at 2003 levels and is the only governor to cut spending in that state since World War II. Since President Obama came to office and while having both a Democrat House and Senate, the national debt increased more in that time than during both terms of Pres. G.W. Bush. According to S&P, the only plan that met the criteria to avoid the loss of our triple-A rating by slowing the trajectory of spending, was passed by the then new Republican led House last year but never taken up by the Democrat led Senate. The Senate has not passed a budget in almost 1000 days. Mr. Perry’s record in cutting spending and getting the members of the legislature of different parties to work together and balance budgets would be a refreshing change in Washington and getting things done.
Mr. Perry’s campaign on his record will have to clearly dispel the myths about job creation in Texas. A common myth is that the job growth in Texas has been primarily due to the energy sector such as oil. According to the Dallas Fed chief Richard Fisher, the mining sector that includes activities for both mining and oil and gas, employs only 2.1% of Texas workers. Most jobs have been created in the educational and health services sector (13.5%). The second most has been in the professional and business sector (12.5% of the Texas workforce). Most new jobs also pay good wages. See: Dallas Fed Chief separates “facts from fiction” on Texas jobs.
Mr. Perry has addressed taxes in Texas by keeping them low, cut spending and has kept regulations from restraining jobs and growth. This not rhetoric, it is the truth. There is no reason why he would not do it in Washington as President. See Mr. Perry’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: My Tax and Spending Reform Plan. His pro growth flat tax plan not only seeks to remove corporate loopholes that usually invite crony capitalism and lobbyists, it also encourages the repatriation of the estimated $1.4 trillion of private capital parked overseas back to invest in America.
Gov. Perry is also keen on reforming the Federal Reserve so it focuses on limiting inflation and ensuring sound money. The Fed’s Quantitative Easing programs (QE1 and QE2) in the last few years have not just devalued the U.S dollar through excess printing of money, but it has aided the erosion in the value of net worth of Americans’ investments or property and caused the costs of living to go up. It is seldom discussed in the media how president Obama’s monetary policies through the fed reserve have had an impact especially on the middle class he claims to protect. Gov. Perry knows this impact on working Americans and is determined to fix it.
Going forward in debates and primaries Mr. Perry should emphasize that his energy plan Energizing American Jobs and Security incorporates the innovativeness and technology of American workers and industry to not only acquire energy, but also do it in an environmentally friendly way. It is a competitive advantage we hold compared to some of the countries we get energy from. He should stress his belief in American ingenuity to get things done right compared to the bureaucratic mindset that prevails in Washington now. His plan also comprises a ‘’all of the above’ strategy of different viable sources determined by the free market and not by special interests.
Gov. Perry might also want to review and embrace the advice the late pioneer Steve Jobs gave to President Obama, which the president did not take. Mr. Job’s advice bodes well with the concept of economic freedom of labor capital and could be incorporated in Gov. Perry’s ideas for economic growth and manufacturing jobs. It also involves a sensible immigration policy to encourage the best and brightest to invest their human capital and expertise in America. See ‘Steve Job’s Advice for Obama’- WSJ.
Tomorrow Gov. Perry will face off again with other candidates in a presidential debate. He will probably not get much face time or questions so it will be crucial to make the best use of what he gets to boost his credibility as being electable. He will probably not be able to avoid questions about his recent attacks on Mitt Romney about Bain Capital that have already had negative repercussions on Gov. Perry’s own campaign. If the negative ads about Mr. Romney affect him in the polls it does not mean that voters will switch back to Gov. Perry. They will only switch to Gov. Perry if they see him as a distinctive leader with superior qualifications and record and who can articulate his ideas to win. It will be more important than ever for Gov. Perry to prove that restoring the American Idea and economic freedom has greatest chance of survival and prosperity if he is elected President.