Posts Tagged ‘tea party’
As the media, and the Republican Party establishment, continue their attempt to make the contest for the 2012 GOP Presidential nominee a two person race between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, it is interesting to look at the fiscal records of these two candidates while they held office as Governors of Massachusetts and Texas, respectively. We’ll here look at a topic of great interest to the Tea Party set particularly, and Americans generally, in light of the current state of the United States federal government: given the US government now spends substantially more than it takes in (north of 40% of expenditures are made with borrowed money), how did these candidates fare on the issue of state spending while they were in charge?
The picture isn’t pretty:
- While Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney increased spending substantially: when Mr Romney took office in 2003, state spending for that year totaled $26.27 billion. During his final year in office in 2007, state spending had ballooned to $34.69 billion. This represents more than a 32% increase in spending over a four year period;
- Meanwhile, during his time in office as Texas Governor since 2000, Rick Perry increased state spending from $44.19 billion in 2000 to $80.40 billion in 2010, an astonishing 81.94% increase;
- Keeping the time periods consistent, while Governor Romney was increasing Massachusetts’ spending by 32% between 2003 and 2007, Governor Perry increased Texas’ spending by 16.36% during that same period (from $59.05 billion in 2003 to $68.71 billion 2007).
Both of these candidates are running to be the Presidential candidate of the Republican Party, a party which ostensibly favors reduced government spending. That’s particularly the case for Tea Party supporters and libertarians, who favor a substantially reduced government role. Judging by their history, it is difficult to consider either of these candidates disciples of a “small government” philosophy: while in office they took a combined $85.32 billion in taxpayer-supported spending and turned it into $103.40 billion in spending.
Here’s a chart of Mr Perry’s and Mr Romney’s work:
What if we look at state spending as a function of state GDP? Here, Mr Perry fares significantly better than Mr Romney: Texas, under Mr Perry’s leadership, was unable to grow spending of taxpayer dollars as fast as their GDP was growing, whereas in Massachusetts, under Mr Romney, state GDP was unable to keep pace with Mr Romney’s spending of taypayer money. The share of state spending as a portion of GDP in Texas reduced from 7.14% to 6.03%, while Mr Romney increased state spending from 8.84% to 9.81% of all economic activity in the state (nearly one in ten dollars produced by economic activity is redistributed by the state government):
How does all this compare to the federal government during the same period? Federal expenditures as a percentage of GDP under George W. Bush decreased 4.58% between 2003 and 2007, from 8.77% to 8.37% (but by 2010 had risen 8.38% under President Obama, to 9.07%) :
Texas Governor Rick Perry, the leading GOP contender for the Presidential nomination in 2012, is a particularly odd choice for Republicans and Tea Party advocates alike. Polls consistently show him atop the pack of contenders for the GOP nomination, however there are a significant number of reasons his consideration as a Presidential nominee, as well as his standing in the polls, comes as a surprise.
- Mr Perry used to be a Democrat, until he concluded the path to power in Texas is paved with Republican pavement;
- Rick Perry is a career politician. He has been in various offices since 1984, when he was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives as the Democratic representative of District 64 (he switched sides in 1989). Career politicians are not looked upon favorably by Tea Pary supporters, or Constitutionalist;
- Mr Perry’s use of executive order to attempt to force state-ordered vaccinations on eleven year-old girls in Texas violates two concepts Tea Partiers, and libertarians, hold dear: the order was passed (and later reversed by the Texas legislature) without being put to a vote of the people’s representatives, while at the same time representing a shocking intrusion by government into people’s lives by requiring parents to actively opt out of the forced vaccination program. The notion of an individual (in this case the Governor) ordering injections of children without debate or a vote is rather shocking. Mr Perry now considers this a “mistake”;
- Mr Perry’s policy of granting discounts on taxpayer provided education to illegal aliens in the state of Texas is anathema to most Republicans (and to taxpayer advocates as well);
- Governor Perry has increased taxes multiple times in Texas. He voted for a $5.7 billion tax increase proposal, and refused to pledge not to increase taxes, a pledge which, notably, his Democratic opponent in the 2002 contest for Governor of Texas made;
- Mr Perry not only supported Al Gore in 1988, he was the chairman of Mr Gore’s Texas campaign committee. It is difficult, for a whole host of reasons, to imagine Republicans embracing the chairman of Mr Gore’s Presidential committee as their nominee for President of the United States;
- “Crony capitalism”, the latest buzzword of Republican Presidentail hopefuls, can be seen throughout Mr Perry’s tenure in politics: trading prominent appointed positions for campaign contributions has been a hallmark of the Governor’s strategy while in office.
- While Governor of Texas, state spending grew 30.6% under Mr Perry’s leadership, after adjusting for population growth and inflation.
UPDATE: supplementary data from Mrs Palin’s time as Alaska’s Governor:
Mrs Palin never once cut spending during her tenure as Governor. During Mrs Palin’s first year as Governor, the Alaska state budget remained identical to the prior year, at $17.67bn. During that same year, federal transfer payments to Alaska increased 2.56% to $10.68bn. The next year, the Governor increased spending by 0.57%, while federal transfer payment increased by 2.56%. The following year, Mrs Palin increased the state’s spending by over ten percent; 10.57% to be exact (to $19.57bn). That same year federal transfer payments increased yet again, and massively: this time transfer payments from the federal government went up an astonishing 32.4%, to $14.65bn (see below – it seems Mrs Palin’s gift for extracting federal money translated very well from her time as mayor of Wasilla). All state statistics can be found at usgovernmentspending.com; federal payments to Alaska can be found at census.gov.
All told, with Mrs Palin at the helm, the state spent 10.75% more by the end of her tenure than it did when she took office. During that same period, federal payments to Alaska by the federal government rose an incredible 40.74%.
All those extra dollars, of course, come from the taxpayers.
We’ll leave it to you to decide whether increasing state spending by over 10% and enjoying over 40% more federal largesse is the mark of a fiscal conservative…
CNN today published a press release on behalf of Sarah Palin. What we mean by “press release” is that the “story” is simply about a speech Mrs Palin is planning to give in Iowa tomorrow, Saturday September 3, 2011. As such, it is a story advising readers that there is a story forthcoming at some future date. The article does, however, speculate (as these articles always do) about Mrs Palin’s ambitions to stage a run to become the President of the United States. The article goes on to state that Sarah Palin will potray herself as an “outsider” to the Washington establishment in the forthcoming speech.
The problem Mrs Palin faces, however, is that she is a qualified “tax and spender”. Sarah Palin is the former Governor of a state, Alaska, where an enormous percentage of the population is anything but “outside” government. In fact, 31% of all workers in Alaska are directly employed by government of one level or another (Gallup). Additionally, as the New York Times correctly reports, Alaska received the greatest per-capita amount of the so-called “stimulus”: the equivalent of $3,145 for each man, woman and child. Further, Mrs Palin, as Mayor of Wasilla, hired a lobbying firm which in turn extracted $25,000,000 from the Federal Government. Wasilla is a town of less than 7,000 people, which works out to another $3,571 for every man, woman and child. Sarah Palin’s political background in Alaska (and in fact the entire background of the state she hails from) is almost entirely predicated upon extracting money from the federal government. Here’s a quote from Carl Gatto, Republican, 13th District, Alaska House of Representatives: “I’ll give the federal government credit: they sure give us a ton of money. For every $1 we give them in taxes for highways, they give us back $5.76.” Of course, the extra $4.76 Mr Gatto’s state receives comes out of the pockets of workers in every other state, by way of taxes.
At root, Mrs Palin, for all her constitutionalist, small-government rhetoric, is “tax and spend”, provided, of course, it is non-Alaskans paying the bill.
Yet somehow Sarah Palin appeals to a not-insignificant subset of the Tea Party movement. And she is largely perceived as anti-tax, anti-spending. Which is consistent with her actions, provided one doesn’t look beyond her home state, where her actions have demonstrably shown the real message: “I’m not in favor of taxes except for taxes on other people, and I’m not in favor of government spending, except when it is spent in Alaska and paid for by non-Alaskans.”
A very curious and mixed message indeed. And a difficult position to translate into national policy, where there isn’t a pool consisting of 99.77% of “others” to tax.