Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Rick Perry vs. Obama: Red State vs. Blue State

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 8/5/09

Gov. Rick Perry suggested Thursday that he would consider invoking states’ rights protections under the 10th Amendment to resist the president’s healthcare plan, which he said would be "disastrous" for Texas.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that should “Obama-care” pass, Perry predicted that Texas and a "number" of states might resist the federal health mandate.

"I think you’ll hear states and governors standing up and saying 'no’ to this type of encroachment on the states with their healthcare," Perry said on Mark Davis’s talk show in Dallas. "So my hope is that we never have to have that stand-up. But I’m certainly willing and ready for the fight if this administration continues to try to force their very expansive government philosophy down our collective throats."

Interviewed after returning from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, Perry spoke out against President Barack Obama’s healthcare package less than 24 hours after the president used a prime-time news conference Wednesday night to try to sell the massive legislative package to Congress and the public, the Star-Telegram reports.

"It really is a state issue, and if there was ever an argument for the 10th Amendment and for letting the states find a solution to their problems, this may be at the top of the class," Perry said. "A government-run healthcare system is financially unstable. It’s not the solution."

Perry has shown “unwavering support” of the 10th Amendment initiatives that have popped up this year in 36 states which assert state sovereignty over all powers not otherwise granted to the federal government.

The federal government “ . . . has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens and its interference with the affairs of our state” he has said recently. Returning to the "letter and spirit" of the 10th Amendment, "will free our state from undue regulations and ultimately strengthen our union."

One of the first governors to speak out in opposition to the federal bailouts, Perry has taken leadership in the state sovereignty movement which began in New Hampshire this year. It has since exacerbated red state/blue state contention as most of the states using the 10th Amendment to oppose the bailouts are in red states. And as The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat pointed out on August 2, 2009, Texas, probably the most representative of red states, today looks like a model citizen.

The Lone Star kept growing well after the country had dipped into recession. Its unemployment rate and foreclosure rate are both well below the national average. It’s one of only six states that didn’t run budget deficits in 2009.

On the other hand, that poster boy for blue states, California, is a disaster:

Meanwhile, California, long a paradise for regulators and public-sector unions, has become a fiscal disaster area. And it isn’t the only dark blue basket case. Eight states had unemployment over 11 percent in June; seven went for Barack Obama last November. Fourteen states are facing 2010 budget gaps that exceed 20 percent of their G.D.P.; only two went for John McCain. (Strikingly, they’re McCain’s own Arizona and Sarah Palin’s Alaska.) Of the nine states that have raised taxes this year, closing deficits at the expense of growth, almost all are liberal bastions.

The president is pushing a California-style climate-change bill at a time when businesses (and people) are fleeing the Golden State in droves, says Douthat. He’s pushing a health care plan that looks a lot like the system currently hemorrhaging money in Massachusetts. His ballooning deficits resemble the shortfalls paralyzing state capitals from Springfield to Sacramento.

Douthat cites the work of author Joel Kotkin who writes about urban and economic issues. On the surface this should be the moment the Blue Man basks in glory, Kotkin wrote recently in The American. “The most urbane president since John Kennedy sits in the White House. A San Francisco liberal runs the House of Representatives while the key committees are controlled by representatives of Boston, Manhattan, Beverly Hills, and the Bay Area—bastions of the gentry.”

But in fact, blue states are experiencing a decades-long meltdown: “Hope” may still sell among media pundits and café society, but the bad economy, increasingly now Obama’s, is causing serious pain to millions of ordinary people who happen to live in the left-leaning part of America.

For example, while state and local budget crises have extended to some red states, the most severe fiscal and economic basket cases largely are concentrated in places such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oregon, and, perhaps most vividly of all, California. The last three have among the highest unemployment rates in the country; all the aforementioned are deeply in debt and have been forced to impose employee cutbacks and higher taxes almost certain to blunt a strong recovery.

And as commodities guru Jim Rogers has been suggesting this past year, the long-term future looks bright for agricultural regions and places where commodities grow. That would be the vast red America. While places like New York where paper is traditionally moved and securities are dealt have lost their function to global competitors.

Increasingly, the growing economies of the red states will be asked to support the declining blue states.

The East Coast–dominated media, of course, wants to claim that we have reached “the twilight” of Sunbelt growth, writes Kotkin. Instead, the list of fastest-growing regions recently compiled for Forbes are traditional red-state strongholds such as the Dakotas, Idaho, Texas, Utah, and North Carolina.