Hoping to upstage the rest of the candidates competing in the Iowa straw poll, Texas Governor Rick Perry will announce today that he’s running for President of the United States.

This is the same man who told Tea Partiers in 2009 that Texas was considering seceding from the Union. The same man who went on a book tour while he was governor. The same man who has called Social Security “a Ponzi scheme” on more than one occasion.

It would be laughable, if it weren’t so very, very scary.
Touted as another “Texas Miracle,” Perry is hoping he can – like his Texas predecessor – ride the wave of middle-America admiration straight from Austin to the White House. (After all, he has such great hair, and he hangs with rock stars.) Let’s hope it isn’t so.

Well-known for his ability to twist the facts to fit whatever version of the truth he thinks will sell best, Rick Perry is using one of his many misleading claims to bolster his presidential campaign. In Jan. 2009, Perry issued a press release that stated: “Approximately 70 percent of the jobs created in the U.S. from November 2007-2008 were in Texas,” a claim which was both wildly inaccurate and misleading.

In fact, Politifact .com, which examines the truth behind statements made by various politicians including the president, governors, and members of Congress, reports that Perry leads Texas in both “False” and “Pants on Fire” ratings.

Among his worst fabrications are statements that his “border security efforts have led to a 60 percent decrease in border crime,” (this statistic, as reported by Politifact, “omits El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville and other burgs where most people live”) and that the state’s 2011 budget crisis was “really not that much different than it was in 2003.” (The latter was said while Perry was pushing the Texas Congress to plug the $4.3 billion operating deficit without dipping into the state’s “rainy day” fund.)

But, back to jobs. As Perry told the AP in an interview, “the issue that is most important and most on people’s minds is jobs.” So, jobs it will be, and the fact that the “70 percent” statistic actually left out the majority of the nation’s states isn’t going to faze Perry. Nor is the fact that he has had little or nothing to do with the state’s job growth.

Texas’ economy is heavily tied to the oil industry and the military. An increase in oil prices (such as the increase from $92.97 per barrel in Jan. of 2008 to $96.26 per barrel in June of 2011) and a large expansion and relocation of troops to Texas bases (like those that have occurred since 9/11) has meant more jobs and money for the state’s economy.

Additionally, Texas still has relatively low-cost housing, which is one reason why the state’s population continues to grow.

Still, it’s understandable why Perry wants to focus on jobs. He certainly can’t hang his hat on his education or health care policies.

In 2009, the 15-member Texas State Board of Education brought Texas into the nation’s spotlight by adopting pseudo-scientific policies that “encouraged” schools to look at “all sides” of a scientific theory, most notably the very established “theory” of evolution. At the head of this debate was the Board’s chairwoman, an anti-evolution biology teacher appointed by Perry.

Now, even though a federal court ruled against teaching that the nature of life on Earth is so complex that it could only have been created by an intelligent being, the Texas Board continues to consider the adoption of textbooks that would promote intelligent design. A move that would, at this point, only add to the ridiculous and hotly debated 2010 curriculum changes.

This year, while Perry was meeting with advisers about his run for President, telling people to pray for rain, and traveling the country for speaking gigs and book tours, Texas’ children were suffering the brunt of a misguided, and inept restructuring of the 2011 Texas Budget.

In order to plug the $4.3 billion operating deficit without using the state’s “rainy day” fund (because, hey, $4.3 billion isn’t too bad) the Texas House passed a budget in April that cut billions of dollars from the public schools (more, in fact, than state law currently allowed), and billions from the already cash-strapped Medicaid program.

Once again, Perry has proven that he has no problem “recover[ing] from the impacts of the national economic recession” by leaving the state’s children sicker and less educated than they were already.

Key Texas Facts You Should Know:

Texas –

–Ranks 1st in number of children without health insurance, which is likely why only 78 percent of the state’s children are in “excellent” or “very good” health (national average is significantly higher);

–Ranks 5th in child poverty;

–Has a high school graduation rate of only 61.3 percent;

–Ranks 49th in verbal SAT scores and 46th in math SAT scores; and

–Was the only state in the nation to cut average per student expenditures in fiscal year 2005.

If it’s true that as goes Texas there goes the nation, come 2015, disillusioned voters across the country will be holding signs that echo those currently displayed across Austin – Perry: A+ in Hair, F in Budgets and Education.

Sarah Hackley is a freelance writer and editor based in Austin, Texas. Read more at www.sarahhackley.com/blog.

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