I felt that some people were going overboard in offering purported “debunks” of the so-called “Texas Miracle” out of hostility to Gov. Rick Perry. I think it should be conceded that Texas has done pretty well under Perry, though not in some clear way better than under his predecessors, the issue is simply that there’s no blueprint here Perry can offer for national policy. His policy prescription is the same as the one every Republican for 25 years has been offering — tax cut voodoo as Meghashyam Mali reports:
“You won’t have stimulus programs under a Perry presidency. You won’t spend all the money,” said Perry Monday at the Tulsa Press Club. Perry said the nation’s “entrepreneurial spirit” would “get America working again.” He pledged to reform the tax code to be “light on job creators.” On the campaign trail, Perry has sought to contrast the president’s performance on jobs with his own record as Texas governor.
Lower taxes for rich people is, indeed, the standard GOP prescription for growth. Bob Dole promised it in 1996. Texas Gov. George W Bush promised it in 2000. In 2001 and 2003, he delivered it. We got the weakest economic expansion in American history, followed by a plunge into the worst recession since World War II. Then John McCain campaigned on lower taxes for rich people. Then in December of 2010, Senate Republicans insisted on lower taxes for rich people as the price for avoiding tax hikes on the middle class. Maybe you think the only problem with this strategy is we haven’t tried it forcefully enough. But what does it have to do with Texas?
In the actual Texas, as we’ve seen over and over again, there’s been plenty of increases in government spending and plenty of public sector job creation. There’s been plenty of federal spending, and plenty of stimulus money. And that’s all because Texas’ population is growing very rapidly. More people equal more private investment to provide the goods and services those people want, and it also means more public sector spending and the employment that comes with it. But is President Perry going to engineer a national population boom by cutting marginal income tax rates on high-income individuals? It’s difficult to see how that would work. The American government really could engineer a population boom by adopting a more liberal attitude toward international migration, but that’s not on Perry’s agenda or anyone else’s as far as I can see. So beyond that, it’s just the case that a governor and a president are faced with different situations. “Let’s get a lot of people to move here” is a totally viable economic growth strategy for a governor to pursue. But it doesn’t work as a national policy agenda. So you’re left with the same old same old tax cuts for the rich.