Texas. Gov Rick Perry continues to go through the media wringer. He was GOP candidate Jon Huntsman’s punching bag on the Sunday talk shows. Combing through all the national coverage Perry’s been getting, here are three things you probably don’t know about the GOP presidential primary’s latest entrant.
1. Perry once fought for a government-mandated healthcare program with reasoning reminiscent of President Obama’s on his healthcare law. In 2007, Perry pushed for mandatory vaccination of sixth-grade girls in Texas for the human papillomavirus (HPV), considered a leading cause of cervical cancer. The Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson writes that while Perry has since said he simply backed off when rebuked by the state legislature, that isn’t the whole story:
After the legislature overruled him, Perry called a press conference and surrounded himself in front of the cameras with cancer survivors, women in wheelchairs, and victims of rape. Arguments about parental rights fell before the cold fact of how much money the state would save with the vaccinations: treatment for cancer, he pointed out, could cost $250,000, much of it borne by taxpayers, while a vaccine cost $350 - the same doctrine of “social costs” later used by President Obama and many others to justify mandatory health insurance and state-run health care.
Then Perry accused his opponents of moral depravity. He showed a video of a bedridden woman wreathed in medical tubes, lamenting the heartlessness of the legislators.
2. His views on homosexuality are complicated. Perry has recently said gay marriage is an issue to be decided by the states, that he is personally opposed to it, and that he supports a federal amendment to ban gay marriage.
If the first and third items in that list seem contradictory, it’s because they are.
With all of that, Ferguson quotes from one of Perry’s books showing yet another layer.
“Though I am no expert on the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate, I can sympathize with those who believe sexual preference is genetic,” he wrote. “I respect their right to engage in the individual behavior of their choosing, but they must respect the right of millions in society to refuse to normalize their behavior.”
“We must draw a line in the sand: People have the right to decide for themselves what they will believe in the core of their being, and how they will live,” he wrote. “For those who want to throw stones at homosexuals in the name of calling out sin, may they be just as loud about adultery among heterosexuals and pornography among their own churchgoing friends.”
3. Perry’s history on taxes is also complicated. His rewriting of Texas’ primary business tax and changes to its local property tax structure in 2006 ended up bringing in billions below projections - and drew a sharp rebuke from the conservative Tax Foundation. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the Tax Foundation said Perry’s changes
caused “significant confusion” and has been expensive to comply with…. “It should not be used as a model tax reform for any other state.”
- Curious about the power of Texas in Republican politics? Conservative magazine The Weekly Standard argues Texas is the GOP’s “new California.”
- Wondering what services got the axe due to Texas’ budget shortfall? See Texas Tribune’s coverage of the subject here.
- Want to know more about Rick Perry? See Decoder’s Rick Perry Reader for more.
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