Rick Perry has joined the long, and ever-growing list of candidates who have thrown their hat into the ring in the race for the White House. There will no doubt be gallons of ink splashed across newspaper pages discussing Perry’s “oops” moment from his 2012 campaign, when he was unable to remember the name the third agency he would eliminate as president. But jeers aside, nobody can deny the compelling story and impressive record in office of the former governor from Texas.
“We are just a few good decisions away from unleashing economic growth,” Perry told a crowd of supporters at a municipal airport outside of Dallas. “It can be done because it has been done – in Texas.”
Nobody, that is, except DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“Rick Perry’s failed tenure as governor of Texas tells us everything we need to know about why he should never and won’t ever be President of the United States,” Schultz said in a statement following Perry’s announcement.
Failed tenure? Typically we wouldn’t write about a candidate’s announcement in the primary, and the following shouldn’t be read as an endorsement of Perry’s campaign, but Schultz’s statement was so dramatically absurd that it compelled a rebuttal.
The most telling statistic is the number of jobs created. In the seven-year period from the start of the Great Recession in December 2007 to December 2014 Texas created 1.44 million jobs while the rest of the states cumulatively lost 275,290 jobs. Read that sentence again and think about how crazy this is – Texas was the sole reason that the nation as a whole had net positive job creation figures over the last 7 years despite the fact that only 1 in 10 jobs is in Texas. To put a finer point on it, since June of 2008, nearly half (48 percent) of all the jobs created in America were located in Texas.
Of course, many liberal commenters have done their best to undermine Perry’s record.
They’ll say that he was just lucky to govern an oil-rich state. But in fact, the oil-and-gas industry make up a far smaller share of Texas’ workforce than in any point in recent history. The vast majority of the jobs that were created have been in professional services, health care, leisure and hospitality and retail. As a result, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, which ran the numbers, estimates that even if oil prices declined by 45 percent Texas payrolls would still grow by 3 percent, far higher than the national average of 2 percent.
They’ll say that the jobs boom was really just a factor of the state’s population growth. It’s difficult to understand why that’s a bad thing. After all, people vote with their feet, and in this case millions of them voted for Perry’s Texas, which was the only state creating enough jobs to sustain them.
And they’ll say that even if they did happen to create a ton of jobs, they aren’t well paid. This one just isn’t true. Although Texas does have a lot of low-paying jobs, the result of the low cost of living and a growing immigrant workforce, it is also creating high paying jobs at a faster clip than anywhere else. According to the Dallas Fed, 45 percent of the new jobs in Texas are in the top half of the nation’s wage distribution – a far faster pace of middle- and high-wage job creation than the country as a whole.
As even left-leaning blogger Matt Yglesias was forced to admit, Texas is “a pretty nice place to live.”
“Its infrastructure is not decaying. Indeed, despite lower taxes the major roads in Texas are far nicer than those in the northeast. The airports are functional. Dallas and Houston are both building out their rail transit systems. African-American and Latino kids do better in school in Texas than they do in the average state. The University of Texas is an extremely well-regarded public university. And if a coastal liberal starts rolling his eyes at the idea of Texas being a nice place to live, just ask him about Austin — a city that is very much subjected to the same conservative governance as the rest of the state.
Of course, none of that means that Perry will win the White House, but it does mean he has a compelling story to tell about the power of conservative governance. And no silly comments from the Democratic National Committee can change that.