Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Democrats go after Gov. Perry in Texas

By Dan Balz - Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 27, 2010; 11:07 PM


In a surprise move, the Democratic Governors Association has decided to up the ante in Texas, with plans to launch an attack ad against Gov. Rick Perry.

The ad assails him as a career politician who has lost touch with the people of the Lone Star State.

The audacious action comes in a state that has been a Republican stronghold for more than a decade. But Democrats have concluded that, even in a year that tilts strongly toward Republicans, Perry is more vulnerable than he has appeared in his race against Democrat Bill White, the former mayor of Houston.

The DGA has already contributed $2 million to White's campaign. The new ad buy, which is scheduled to begin running in the Dallas area Tuesday, represents an independent expenditure on behalf of White. A Democratic strategist said the DGA would spend about $650,000 to $700,000 a week on its ad campaign.

The latest poll in Texas, conducted by Blum & Weprin Associates for a consortium of Texas newspapers, gave Perry a seven-percentage-point lead, 46 percent to 39 percent. The poll was published on Sunday. Perry's lead was consistent with other surveys taken in September.

The public poll showed White and Perry running about even in the Houston area, where White is well known. But Perry held a solid lead in the Dallas area. The DGA hopes its ad campaign will cut into that margin there, which could be the key to White's hopes of winning.

On the issues, 25 years as a politician
has changed Rick Perry ... For the worse.

Perry became governor in December 2000 after then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become president. He has been reelected twice to four-year terms and is now the longest-serving governor in the state's history.

In a year in which incumbents of both parties have found themselves on the defensive, Democrats hope to turn Perry's long tenure against him. The ad concludes by saying, "Twenty-five years as a politician has changed Rick Perry alright - for the worse."

A copy of the ad was made available to the Post before it went on the air.

The ad attacks Perry on several fronts. Among them are ordering 11- and 12-year-old girls to be vaccinated against a virus that causes cervical cancer and proposing a mammoth Trans-Texas highway corridor that would have taken land from many private property owners.

Both proposals eventually were blocked, but Republicans and Democrats have continued to criticize Perry for his actions. Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R ) included both in her primary challenge to Perry last spring but fell far short in her bid to unseat him.

Democrats face substantial losses in governors' races this fall, with Republicans looking to finish the elections with at least 30 of the 50 governor's mansions.

But Democrats are running competitively in three of the nation's most populous states, all of which elected Republicans governors four years ago.

In California, Democratic attorney general and former governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr. holds a narrow lead over Republican Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay.

In Florida, Democrat Alex Sink, the state comptroller, is running even with businessman Rick Scott, who was the upset winner or the GOP primary in August.

An upset in Texas could provide an improbable sweep of the big Sunbelt states, although defeating Perry is seen as the most difficult of the three. Democratic officials believe it is worth an additional investment in White's candidacy to see how vulnerable the incumbent may be.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The GOP "Pledge"

Political Cartoon by Rex Babin - Sacramento Bee
Choosing The Wrong Driver

The GOP "Pledge": What's Not In It
By David Corn | Thu Sep. 23, 2010 10:06 AM PDT

The House Republicans on Thursday released a manifesto outlining what they intend to do should they triumph in the coming congressional elections.

The glossy document, which is adorned with photographs of the Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore, and cowboys, is high-mindedly titled "A Pledge to America: A New Governing Agenda Built on the Priorities of Our Nation, the Principles We Stand For & America's Founding Values." And it offers few surprises: tax cuts for all (including the super-rich), slashing federal spending (without specifying actual targets), downsizing government, more money for the military (especially missile defense), and repealing the health care bill. It decries deficits—though it advocates proposals that will add trillions of dollars to the deficit.

It calls for reforming Congress—but in non-significant ways (such as forcing legislators to place a sentence in every bill attesting that the legislation is connected to a principle in the Constitution). It's full of Hallmark-style patriotism: "America is more than a country." It's infused with tea party anger: Washington has plotted "to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values." It is likely to have little impact on the elections.

You can read it yourself. Or peruse the reviews: liberal Ezra Klein dissects its internal contradictions; tea partier Erick Erickson decries the "Pledge" as a sell-out of the tea party movement; Republican curmudgeon David Frum finds it retro and short on "modern" and "affirmative" ideas for governing during a recessionary year.

But here's a short-cut for you. Below is a list of words and phrases and the number of times they are each mentioned in the 45-page "Pledge."

Wall Street: 0
Bank: 0
Finance: 0
Mortgage crisis: 0
Derivative: 0
Subprime: 0
Lobbying: 0
Lobbyist: 0
K Street: 0
Campaign finance: 0
Campaign contribution: 0
Campaign donation: 0
Disclosure: 0
Climate change: 0
Environment: 1 ("political environment")
Alternative energy: 0
Renewable: 0
Green: 0
Transportation: 0
Infrastructure: 0
Poverty: 0
Food: 0
Food safety: 0
Housing: 0
Internet: 0
Education: 0
College: 0
Reading: 0
Science: 0
Research: 0
Technology: 0
Bush administration: 0

That list is as telling as the actual contents.

Monday, September 20, 2010

KERA Interviews Bill White

KERA Interview
Former Houston Mayor Bill White charges that Governor Rick Perry is trying to hide the state's financial problems until after election day.

On Friday Perry told KERA the upcoming budget gap might be around $11 billion.

Bill White tells KERA's Shelley Kofler in this video interview the deficit is probably double that, and there will be an additional shortfall this year [now estimated to approach $21 billion.]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Houston Chronicle Endorses Bill White For Governor

Bill White's endorsement by the Houston Chronicle is the first major newspaper endorsement of the general election.
Houston Chronicle
Sept. 18, 2010

Texas faces an unprecedented budget deficit estimated at $21 billion, faltering health care and public education systems, and demands for new energy sources and transportation funding. For nearly a decade, Rick Perry — the longest-serving governor in Lone Star history — has been at the helm of an increasingly wayward ship.

Texas can't afford four more years of Perry's leadership.
The governor has shown a distaste for dealing with budget details, fobbing them off on the Legislature and even suggesting in a recent news conference that Comptroller Susan Combs had better uses of her time than issuing deficit projections.

Fortunately, voters have the opportunity to replace Republican Perry with former Houston Mayor Bill White, a Democrat with credentials as a successful lawyer, corporate CEO and public servant who demonstrated his management capabilities and hard-work ethic during a six-year tenure at City Hall.

As he did in Houston, White can bring innovative financial solutions, a passion for environmental protection, and a strong bipartisan and ethical commitment to a governor's office tarnished by charges of cronyism, partisanship and catering to contributors at the expense of constituents.

"Today our state is being run like a political machine to perpetuate Rick Perry in office," said White during his screening with the Chronicle editorial board. Gov. Perry has declined to meet with Texas newspaper editorial boards.

"People want a governor who can bring people together to get things done," White continued. "Leadership is not dividing the state into red teams and blue teams, playing people off against each other. Leadership is not having citizens and journalists have to pry information out of the government when it's funded by the taxpayers."

Read the full story at the Houston Chronicle

Gov. Perry Is Running On His Record

One of Rick Perry's campaign ads

One of Bill White's campaign videos
Gov. Perry is running on his record. Gov. Perry's record:

An $18 billion to $21 billion permanent structural deficit in our state budget created by the property tax swap that Gov. Perry and the Republican controlled legislature passed in '06. Texas' state debt has doubled under Perry.

Rick Perry's property tax increase is hurting our local schools

Almost 1 million Texans are unemployed, a state record. Texas' unemployment rate (8.4%) now has been at or above 8 percent for 13 straight months, the longest period since a 23-month run from February 1986 to December 1987, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission.

The Texas poverty rate rose 11% last year. Now 4.3 million Texans live in poverty.

Dallas Morning News - 5,550 Texans continue to lose their health coverage each week. Texas leads the nation in percentage of residents without health insurance with only 49.5 percent of Texas residents covered by employer-sponsored insurance.

Health care premiums have increased 91.6% since Perry became Governor

A recent report showed that Gov. Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund is "not creating jobs as promised." The Texas Enterprise Fund spent $368 million of public funding and only 33% of the projects created the pledged jobs. And Texas companies like Dell, are spending more to create jobs in China at the expense of jobs in Texas or even the United States.

Houston Chronicle - Perry and his family headed to China - But funding raises concerns about the trade mission.

Texas Tribune - Texas college and university tuition skyrocketed by 63 percent while Perry has been Governor. Since 2003, when the Republican dominated State Legislature deregulated tuition by allowing individual boards of regents to set prices for each school, tuition and fees at four-year state schools has skyrocketed by an average of 63 percent, from $1,934 per semester to $3,150 according to the last state figures, from 2008.

Utility rates continue to rise, and some utility companies and Perry thinks that is just fine.

The student dropout rate in Texas is 30 percent and as high as 50 percent in some large urban districts.

Texas currently has the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the United States and “the highest rate of repeat teen births.

The rate of student pregnancies has increased as much as 57 percent and rates of sexually transmitted diseases are rising in some urban school districts.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Children Speak Rick Perry Quotes

A Texas Filmmakers for Bill White web video featuring children repeating Rick Perry's quotes about part-time lifestyle, living in a mansion, the HPV vaccine controversy, and the Trans-Texas Corridor.

When asked for a response to this video by the Houston Chronicle Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner said, "It's nice that Bill White put his policy advisers in a video."

In reply to Miner's comment White spokeswoman Katy Bacon said, "Of course Texas children are on Bill's mind when he's thinking about policy for our state's future. It's Texas kids whose future Rick Perry is mortgaging with his fiscal mismanagement and the $18 billion budget hole. Unfortunately, the only thing Rick Perry and his handlers are looking out for are their political friends and special interest lobbyists. That's why we need a new governor."

Sources of the quotes used in the video:
  1. “Texas is still competing and winning because of hardworking visionaries and committed economic development organizations who are willing to think bigger and work harder than anyone else.” (Source: Rick Perry speech, May 26, 2010).

  2. “I absolutely understand they want to get back to their homes. I'd like to get back to the mansion.” (Source: San Antonio Express-News, " Biggest obstacle to Galveston recovery is water" 9/19/08).

  3. “It has been a tragedy of unspeakable consequences that, for decades, activist courts denied many Texas parents their right to be involved in one of the most important decision their young daughter could ever make…” (Source: Rick Perry press release, 6/5/05).

  4. "“The simple truth is: When it comes to roads, we need more of them….And good roads mean a better quality of life for our citizens.” (Source: Austin American-Statesman, "Perry: Legislature 'abdicated responsibility' on transportation," 4/22/08).

Gov. Perry Is Hiding A $21 Billion Texes Budget Deficit

"Saddle bags" by Nick Anderson - Houston Chronicle
Dallas Morning News:
New assessments, obtained by The Dallas Morning News after a recent huddle of senior legislative staff members, show that even if lawmakers decide to spend all $9 billion in the state's rainy day fund, they still would need to come up with almost $12 billion more to close the gap - through some combination of spending cuts, accounting tricks and new taxes or fees.

The figures, prepared by staff at the Legislative Budget Board and then tweaked by House leadership, show the situation has deteriorated since spring.

In May, Pitts, the House's chief budget writer, drew derision from some GOP leaders when he said the shortfall could be between $15 billion and $18 billion. Perry said someone had "reached up in the air and grabbed" the figure.

The latest figures, though, show the gap as high as $20.6 billion.

Revenue is not rebounding quickly from the economic downturn, as Comptroller Susan Combs predicted it would. Population is expected to keep growing rapidly, which swells demand for education and social services, already high because of the recession.

You can watch a video clip here where Rick Perry say that "I've got a lot of confidence in this comptroller." [Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Republican Susan Combs] He goes on to say, "I don't necessarily think it's a particularly good use of the comptrollers time to do a budget estimate every time someone pokes their head up out of a hole and says 'let's do a budget estimate." It's quite obvious Rick Perry does not want his controller to release a budget report that shows a $21 billion budget deficit any time before the election, as the truth about Texas' fiscal health is clearly detrimental to Governor Perry's re-election bid.

Politifact verifies claims from Democratic opponent Bill White that our state's debt has doubled under Rick Perry. When he assumed office in December 2000, Texas held $13.7 billion in debt. Adjusting for inflation, that's today's equivalent of $16.6 billion. As of August 2009, we held $34.08 billion in debt. Rick Perry has more than doubled our state's debt, even after you adjust for inflation.

Perry also claims he's cut state spending as well, but it's actually increased 45%.

He's claimed to have vetoed $3 billion worth of spending, when, in truth, $2.5 billion of that never was passed into law anyway and would not have been spent, regardless of his 'veto'.

Despite all of the above proof that our Governor has failed miserably as a steward of our state's fiscal matters, he's running ads claiming

that, "the economic success Texas is experiencing because of the leadership and pro-growth policies put into place by Governor Rick Perry. The keys to success? Don't spend all the money. Keep taxes low. Keep regulations fair and predictable. Tort reform to prevent frivolous and junk lawsuits. Fund an accountable education system. Then get out of the way and let entrepreneurs and the private sector do what the private sector does best-- create jobs. Since 2005, Texas has created far more private-sector jobs than all over states combined."

We Texans here in Collin County know Perry's political ad claims are half-truths, slanted estimates, and flat out lies.

No wonder Gov Perry is too chicken to debate Bill White. He's tanked our state's fiscal health with one hand and written a book about what a great fiscal conservative he is with the other. In one breath he claims there is no budget crisis in Texas and then he claims Texas' has a financial crisis caused by the Obama administration.

Houstonians, who re-elected Bill White as mayor with 91% and then later, 86% of the vote, were proud to call him our mayor. It's time for Collin County to elect a Texas Governor in which we can again be proud. Visit Bill White for Texas and read about his accomplishments with the city of Houston that includes job growth and balancing budgets.