Rick Perry speaks of the federal government with an air of scorn normally reserved for maladies of the gastrointestinal tract and mother-in-laws. He infamously floated to a gathering of brooding teabaggers the possibility of Texas seceding from these United States. His standard campaign kibble contains the minimum daily requirement of government bashing for the de-evolution set.
Texas Republicans recently took another step in casting Texas as the model for an edenic vision of negligible taxes, negligible wages and life without the nuisance of government by cutting $34 million from the Texas Forest Service, a third of the budget for the agency responsible for fighting wildfires in the state of Texas. Likewise, in a bold display of limiting government, they whacked a hefty 75% of state assistance to local volunteer fire departments.
So now, as in the past, when the small state government Perry likes to brag about can’t meet the basic needs of its citizens he’s off to that Babylonia of Washington, D.C. with his Stetson in his hand for another bailout.
Perry has a long and embarrassing record of ultra-right braggadocio about ridding Texas of revenue and of self-sufficiency from public services (except for the oil and gas industry and Texas corporations of course) while papering over the deficiencies with monies borrowed from the federal taxpayer.
In 2003 Perry got his state over a billion dollars in “stimulus” money. The same year, Texas requested and received 47 million in extra federal money for Texas Medicaid. After no small amount of braying about cutting property taxes in 2005 Rhinestone Rick managed to weasel $1.2 billion in “temporary state fiscal relief to Texas” to fill the hole.
And of course after throwing Texas-size cow pies at the Obama stimulus plan old Rhinestone gobbled up 6.4 billion dollars of it in order to cover his Texas style 25 billion dollar budget gap. When not playing Daniel Boone for the Texas homies, Perry is playing the victim card with the Obama administration. After fires in April he whined about the size of the Federal disaster declaration. and has been hounding the administration ever since to broaden its scope. Since the outbreak of the current conflagration he has been yammering about the pace of FEMA assistance.
Perhaps my eyes are bad and my ears have stopped up. But I have yet either to read or to hear of a Republican politician calling for “offsetting budget cuts” to pay for the disaster relief for fire-ravaged Texans. It has been a hypocritically voluble silence. …unless I missed it, when Eric Cantor declared, “burn, baby burn” in lieu of the offsetting budget cuts.
Texans get exactly what they pay for with Perry’s idyllic minimal government: the highest percentage of minimum wage earners in the nation; the highest percentage of residents lacking health insurance; before its recent gutting of its education budget Texas already was 37th in the nation in per-pupil spending for education; Texas is third worst in teen pregnancies, and dead last in providing prenatal care to expectant mothers; Texas is 34th among the fifty states in median family income.
Big talking small government blowholes may elude the statistical evidence of the dolorous consequences of their nominal governments during normal times; but when the state is visibly flammable, it’s not so easy to cover up what is conspicuously missing: resources to put the fires out.