Friday, August 19, 2011
Perry Claims Federal Stimulus ‘Didn’t Create Any Jobs,’ Ignoring The 50,000 It Created In Texas
By Marie Diamond and Travis Waldron
ThinkProgress filed this report from Pembroke, New Hampshire
New GOP presidential contender Gov. Rick Perry (TX) continues to get a free pass from the press for his stimulus hypocrisy on the campaign trail. Last week the governor claimed that the Recovery Act signed by President Obama had “failed” — conveniently forgetting that he accepted more stimulus money than any other state besides California, and used the funds to close 97 percent of Texas’ massive budget deficit.
The Houston Chronicle reported that as of July 2010, federal stimulus funds created or saved 47,700 jobs in the Lone Star State. Yet today during a question-and-answer session in Pembroke, New Hampshire, Perry once again feigned ignorance of the indispenable benefits his state received from stimulus money. In fact, he claimed that the stimulus “didn’t create any jobs, as far as I can tell”:
QUESTION: If the stimulus plan didn’t work, then what do you think would help for unemployment?
PERRY: He asked, “If the stimulus didn’t work” – and the stimulus did not work, obviously all it did was create more debt in this country. It didn’t create any jobs, as far as I can tell, except for maybe those federal regulators that were increased.
So far, Texas has used $17.4 billion in federal stimulus money to keep schools open, ensure Medicaid coverage for children, and put more people to work on infrastructure projects. About half of that was spent on “shovel ready” projects — “things we would not have done with our own money,” says a senior budget analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities. Texas benefited disproportionately from the stimulus, using it to balance its budget two years in a row.
Ironically, Perry once aggressively pursued the federal aid he now denounces to pander to the far-right base. According to Time Magazine, in 2003, “lobbyists under Perry’s direction went to Capitol Hill to lobby the Republican Congress for more than a billion dollars” in stimulus-type funds. Over several years this lobbying campaign won funds for programs “Perry now says he opposes as fiscally irresponsible intrusions on state responsibilities.”
Texas received $4.3 billion in stimulus funds for Medicaid and $3.25 billion for public education. Without the generosity of the federal government Perry now decries, Texas would have had to lay off 565 caseworkers who investigate child abuse. Stimulus-funded child care and job training programs would also have ended. In short, Texans would have been much harder hit by the recession if the Recovery Act hadn’t been there to cushion the blow.