Perry's words have set off a loud debate
Web Posted: 04/17/2009 12:00 CDT Perry's words have set off a loud debate
By R.G. Ratcliffe - Express-News
AUSTIN — With the fiery rhetoric of a prairie populist, Gov. Rick Perry calls on “Texas patriots” to protest against “bailouts, all this stimulus, all this runaway spending” in the nation's capital.
For weeks, the Republican governor has ratcheted up his railing against the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress. Perry's call for “state's rights” and a suggestion that Texas could leave the union if it wanted to made national news this week.
In fact, a video on the governor's Web site where he endorses a state's rights resolution by Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, received 305,576 hits since Tuesday and a YouTube version got another 202,995, Perry's staff said.
Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh gave Perry an “Amen, bro,” and host Glenn Beck said he was “thrilled” by Perry's stand on states' rights.
Others haven't been so thrilled.
Texas House Democratic Caucus Chairman Jim Dunnam of Waco said for Perry to even hint that secession was possible was “irresponsible.”
“I am surprised that Gov. Perry would reinforce a sentiment that is so clearly anti-American. He should choose his words more carefully unless they are intentional,” he said. “If they are intentional, they should be condemned.”
Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston called Perry's remarks “a step down a very dangerous and divisive path encouraged by the fringe of Texas politics.”
Whatever it is, Perry's staff now is saying the governor has been misunderstood.
“He (Perry) never advocated seceding,” Perry spokesman Mark Miner said.
What Perry said on Wednesday was: “Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that. My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. 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, who knows what may come of that.”
Perry's anti-federal government words attacked “all this stimulus,” the $787 billion federal spending package designed to boost the economy.
But the truth is, Perry's administration already is expecting to take federal stimulus dollars, and the Texas House today is set to debate a budget that uses $11 billion in stimulus funding to help cover state government operations for the next two years.
The governor has signed off on Texas accepting about $16.5 billion from the federal stimulus package, including $101 million in stimulus funds that his office would administer in grants to local law enforcement and crime victims.
Perry is only against the $555 million for unemployment insurance that the state only can receive by changing Texas unemployment law.
And the Senate tentatively agreed Thursday to change the law and take the unemployment money, despite Perry's opposition.
Dunnam called his willingness to take most of the stimulus money “hypocrisy.”
Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, defended Perry, saying the funds are made up of Texas tax dollars anyway and if Texans didn't take them, the money would go to other states.
“It's not like Washington is sending us money they made selling souvenirs at the Barack Obama gift shop,” Patrick said. Perry's words have set off a loud debate