Thursday, December 29, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Proves a Point

Just Like Family Value Conservatives Often Do Not Have Family Values:  Fiscal Value Conservatives Do Not Have Fiscal Values

Conservatives Republicans like to tout their family values, even though in many cases they don’t really have any.  See the recent Masterpiece Theatre Presentation, the Three (and counting) Wives of Newt Gingrich or the fact that Congressional Republicans want to remove all funding from Planned Parenthood, thus denying millions of women basic health care just because another, non-government funded part of Planned Parenthood provides family planning and abortion related services.

One of the great fiscal conservatives in the Republican race for the Presidential nomination of that once great party is Texas Gov. Rick Perry.  Mr. Perry often touts his fiscal conservatism, and when confronted with a huge budget deficit this year he cut spending on education, health services and the like (there’s that irksome family values hypocrisy again) rather than raise taxes or use the state’s reserves.

But when it comes to spending on Mr. Perry, Mr. Perry has no qualms.  He is taking a retirement pension from the state, even though he is not retiring and is still earning a state paycheck (feeding at the public trough we think is the proper term here).  And now it turns out that Mr. Perry has required the state of Texas to pay for his security while he goes around the country campaigning for President, which at the last glance was not part of the job description for being Governor of Texas.

This is a lot of money, although getting some of the details from Texas is not easy to do.

The public safety department said last week that the governor’s security for out-of-state trips cost $486,904 in fiscal year 2011. A department spreadsheet shows that the agency spent more than $397,000 to protect the governor on trips in a single month, between Sept. 5 and Sept. 28 this year.

That included $161,786 for airfare, $8,140 for baggage fees, $50,648.84 for food, $6,442.24 for fuel, $112,111.81 for lodging, $54,356.65 for rentals, $2,990.26 for parking and $1,238.57 in an unspecified “other” category.

This is quite a haul for Mr. Perry.  And it’s not like he doesn’t have the campaign funds to pay for his own security

State Representative Jessica Farrar of Houston, leader of the House Democrats, said Mr. Perry’s travels have been more of a black eye for Texas than a benefit. She said the governor deserves to have state-provided security, but said he should use some of the $17 million he has reported raising for his campaign to help defray the costs.

As for getting the details, the Republicans who control Texas voted a law that keeps much of the spending secret.  It seems they don’t want the details out there on where Mr. Perry has been and what it cost, using the guise of security.  It is hard to see how would be mischief makers or even people bent of harm to the Governor can benefit from know where he stayed last week, it’s where he is staying this week that matters.  But where he stayed last week and how much it cost might embarrass Mr. Perry, so the info has to be kept from the public.

Mr. Perry is carrying on a tradition of having citizens of Texas pay for personal campaign security costs.  George W. Bush, extremely wealthy in his own right and with plenty of campaign cash used the state coffers for his security.

Mr. Perry is not the only Texas governor to run up big bills — and receive criticism — for security provided on out-of-state trips. When George W. Bush was governor and ran for president in 2000, the state spent at least $400,000 a month in the first quarter of that year — more than four times the amount spent in all of 1999, the public safety department revealed at the time.

All told, taxpayers were on the hook for $3.9 million in security costs for Mr. Bush and his family from January 1999 to March 2000, when the Secret Service took over the job, the public safety department said.

So everyone should be clear here, when Conservatives talk about keeping spending under control they mean cutting spending for education, child care, health care, public safety, transportation and the like.  After all if the state is spending money in those areas there might not be enough to fund both tax cuts for the wealthy and personal campaign costs of the Governor. 

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