Sanity has left the Teabag

from Nuts & Dolts

One of the best things about being  a political scientist is that you often suck as a fortune teller.  One of the bad things about being a political scientist, is like all other broken clocks, your predictions will be right twice a day.  The worst case scenario is when your broken clock correctness is about Rick Perry, as a serious contender for GOP nomination.

Yes, N&D called it about six weeks ago.

After entering the race on Saturday, Perry has become the front runner, by a large margin according to the most recent Rasmussen poll.

When asked: If the 2012 Republican Primary for President were held today would you vote for Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman or Thad McCotter?

29% of respondents said they’d vote for Perry, compared to 18% for Romney and 13% for Bachmann.  We can always hope that this is just a temporary bounce to welcome the newest crazy to the race, but considering the other possibilities . . .

During the 4 days since he formally announced his threat, Perry has been busy making the sort of statements that make sane people scratch their heads, while getting cheers from the Republican base.

Here is just a sampling:

Perry calls for increasing taxes on the poor and seniors (many of which fall in both categories) By Perry’s logic seniors and the poor can afford to pay more taxes which as Think Progress points out, overlooks looks the reality of the situation.

In fact, tax cuts were a constant theme during the speech. “We need lower taxes,” Perry said, later adding that “it is time to limit and simplify the taxes in this country.” However, it seems that Perry wants to raise taxes on at least one population — the working poor, seniors, and students who currently have no federal income tax liability:

We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax. And you know the liberals out there are saying that we need to pay more. We are indignant about leaders who do not listen and spend money faster than they can print it.

It’s certainly true that nearly half of Americans don’t have any federal income tax liability, but a large portion of that population pays federal payroll and excise taxes, as well as state and local taxes, which fall much harder on the middle-class and low-income individuals than those at the upper end of the income scale. The simple fact is that they don’t make enough money to have to qualify for even the lowest federal income tax bracket.

Overall, less than a quarter of the nation’s households don’t contribute to federal tax receipts — and the majority of the non-contributors are students, the elderly, or the unemployed. Does Perry believe that these people are really undertaxed?

Like all good Teapublicans, Rick Perry opposes any policies that would improve the economy.

“If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous — or treasonous — in my opinion.”

Emphasis added.

There are plenty of people on the right, even some very influential members of the Republican party, who’ve come out against more so-called quantitative easing, because they claim it would “debase the currency” — i.e. lead to inflation.

Inflation is not currently a risk at all, and in fact is lower than it was under Ronald Reagan whose support for tight money policies likely played a part in the current anti-inflation mania gripping the right. But that’s not what Perry’s saying.

Considering that Perry was calling for secession not that long ago, he is in no position to judge what is treasonous.  Even if we overlook that, hoping for the economy of your country to fail, in the name of gaining political power is hardly what one could call patriotic.

But apparently, in Perry’s world, patriotism can be bought for a donation of $500,000 to the Perry campaign.

According to a strategy document obtained by The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty, there are four levels in the Perry donor universe.

“Patriots” are tasked with collecting $500,000 and promised a co-chairmanship of Perry’s national finance committee and a “VIP Republican National Convention Package” that includes a hospitality suite and a VIP reception at the national party convention.

Perry also believes that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are unconstitutional according to Think Progress:

The Constitution says that “the Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes… to provide for the… general Welfare of the United States.” But I noticed that when you quoted this section on page 116, you left “general welfare” out and put an ellipsis in its place. Progressives would say that “general welfare” includes things like Social Security or Medicare—that it gives the government the flexibility to tackle more than just the basic responsibilities laid out explicitly in our founding document. What does “general welfare” mean to you?

[PERRY:] I don’t think our founding fathers when they were putting the term “general welfare” in there were thinking about a federally operated program of pensions nor a federally operated program of health care.

What they clearly said was that those were issues that the states need to address. Not the federal government. I stand very clear on that.

From my perspective, the states could substantially better operate those programs if that’s what those states decided to do.

So in your view those things fall outside of general welfare. But what falls inside of it? What did the Founders mean by “general welfare”?

[PERRY:] I don’t know if I’m going to sit here and parse down to what the Founding Fathers thought general welfare meant.

But you just said what you thought they didn’t mean by general welfare. So isn’t it fair to ask what they did mean? It’s in the Constitution.

[Silence.]

Even if Perry can’t elaborate on his understanding of what the Founding Fathers meant by the general welfare, Perry is very proud of his record in the area of job creation.

“I happen to think the biggest issue facing this country is that we are facing economic turmoil, and if we don’t have a president that doesn’t get this country working, we’re in trouble,” Perry told about 300 Republicans in a ballroom in Waterloo, Iowa, on Monday.

“And I’ve got a track record.”

In fact 57% of all new jobs in the U.S. were created in Texas.  Of course, most of them were government jobs provided by the stimulus. Those that weren’t turned out to be the sort of jobs that are less than impressive, as observed by David Frum.

But if Texas has created many jobs, it has failed to create good jobs. Many of the jobs created since 2009 pay only minimum wage, and Texas, along with Mississippi, has the highest percentage of minimum wage workers in the U.S.

It is also worth noting that Texas has the highest proportion of  people who do not have health insurance. Perry hopes to do to the entire country what he has done to Texas.

Perry’s proposal on immigration?  This you’ve got to see to it in his own words to believe it.

Perry said that before deciding how to deal with immigrants already illegally in the country, United States needed to secure its border with Mexico both to block new illegals and also to tamp down on drug-related violence.

Texas already spends $152 million on its own on that effort, he said, and the state’s governor called for both up to 1,000 National Guard troops and the non-lethal use of unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol and monitor the 1,200-mile-long Texas-Mexico border.

“You can secure it, and the way you do it is you put boots on the ground – substantial number of boots on the ground,” he said.

As for using aircraft such as Predator drones, Perry noted many unarmed aircraft are already flown in the area each day as practice for the Air Force pilots who will guide them overseas.

“Why not be flying those missions and using that real-time information to help our law enforcement?” Perry said. “Because if we will commit to that, I will suggest to you that we will be able to drive the drug cartels away from that border.”

This is the same Rick Perry who on one hand wants Texas to secede and on the other wants to be president of the country he wants to secede from.

All joking aside, Perry is a Teapublican dream.

An extremist who will give Michele Bachmann a run for her money, with a college transcript to prove that no one could accuse him of being a member of the intellectual elite.  He talks the Koch party rhetoric on economics.

First he wants to eliminate social security and medicare and force seniors to pay an income tax?

Translation: expect a Walmart economy in which Granny and Grampy get to be Walmart greeters for as long as they can live without access to healthcare.  Higher taxes for students, which means less money to pay for college, which means no college for students who don’t have a trustfund.

And those “job creators” will continue to receive corporate welfare paid for by the seniors who will be Walmart greeters for life.  Under Perry’s vision, patriotism means a $500,000 check to the Perry campaign.  In other words, patriotism is only for rich right-wingers.

Patriotism does not mean  actively pursuing policies in the best interest of the country, nor does it mean creating meaningful, well paying jobs for the job holders of tomorrow.

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