Obama and the Perry Miracle
Liberals have let it be known that they intend to "kill" Romney -- or any other GOP candidate who poses a threat to Obama in the 2012 election. The attack on Romney at the Iowa state fair by hecklers pretending to be ordinary retirees is prelude to what we can expect. Obama's own team are hard at work as well. Recently, they've been trying to head off the challenge posed by Gov. Rick Perry, the most successful American governor in living memory.
On Friday David Axelrod argued that Perry's record of job creation in Texas was not what it seemed. Yes, Texas has created more jobs over the last decade, while Perry has been governor, than any other state. For several of those years, in fact, it has created more jobs that all the other states combined. But, Axelrod insisted, Perry should not get any credit for that accomplishment.
After all, Texas is an oil-producing state. In fact, it is the largest oil and gas producer in the country. And, yes, Texas also benefits from the presence of large military installations. So it was more or less inevitable that Texas, with its oil production and military installations, would add jobs and enjoy strong economic growth during the past decade. Just like California.
California? Yes, California is the third largest oil and gas producing state, right behind Texas and Alaska.
California is also host to some of the nation's largest military installations. There are, in fact, 32 military bases in California, including Edwards AFB, Travis AFB, Vandenberg AFB, Camp Pendleton, the Presidio of Monterey, Fort Irwin, and the San Diego and Coronado naval bases, the largest naval installations on the west coast. By contrast, there are only 15 military installations in Texas.
California is also home to some of the largest aerospace and high-tech contractors in the nation. Rockwell International, Lockheed, and Northrop, major defense contractors, are all located in southern California.
What California lacks is the kind of political leadership that will attract new business. Economic growth in California -- one can hardly call it "growth" -- has been stagnant or worse over the past decade. In 2008-2009 GDP growth in the state was minus 2.2%. Along with a stagnant economy comes high unemployment. In June 2011, the states's unemployment rate stood at 11.8%. That same month the unemployment rate in Texas was 8.2%, well below the national average of 9.2%.
Over the past decade California's economy has been the mirror image of that of Texas. In April 2011, California ranked last among the 50 states in job creation. In one month alone, it lost more than 11,000 jobs. During that same time period, Texas led the country in job creation, as it has done for years.
Over the last decade Texas has also been the nation's top exporting state. Obama says he wants to double U.S. exports over the next five years. There is not much evidence that he is going to succeed. But in Texas, with exports increasing at 26.7%, exports are more than doubling every four years.
That's partly because many of California's entrepreneurial businesses have fled to Texas, where Austin has become a major center of high-tech industry. Other businesses, such as Comerica, have abandoned the high-tax states of the north and northeast. When Comerica relocated to Dallas, it left its name on Tiger stadium, but that's about all it left in Detroit.
As Governor of Texas, Rick Perry helped to create a tax and regulatory environment that would attract new business to the state and allow businesses already there to flourish. Passage of robust tort reform laws -- laws which Obama has done everything possible to defeat at the national level -- has attracted thousands of physicians and other professionals to Texas.
With its zero income tax, Texas has been attractive to both working adults and to retirees. Its regulatory policies have encouraged oil and gas drilling, including the use of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" to remove previously untapped resources in the massive Barnett Shale and Eagle Glen fields.
The result of all this has been greater prosperity for everyone in the state. No, Mr. Axelrod, it was not just luck that brought about a decade of prosperity in the state of Texas. It was the leadership of Rick Perry and the passage of conservative tax and regulatory policies. It is no accident that Texas is in the catbird seat while California is in the dumpster.
Had Gov. Perry's policies of tax and regulatory reform been adopted ten years ago at the national level, and had they been maintained and expanded during the Obama administration, America as a whole would enjoy a similar level of economic growth and job creation. It's time to put Texas-style leadership to work in Washington. Maybe then we can look back ten years from now and find ourselves with a prosperous economy, with rising incomes, mounting exports, and jobs for all who want to work.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture and politics.