by Max Brantley
If you can't believe National Review, who can you believe?
That leaves Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, I figure.
So far, despite two requests for affirmation, only one, Bruce Westerman, of the 20 Arkansas legislators who signed the letter supporting Rick Perry has been willing to tell me he still stands with the Texas governor.
UPDATES — Perry support is trickling in:
* Rep. Mark Biviano: "In the June 13th letter I stated my commitment to the campaign for Rick
Perry. I stand by that today."
* Rep. Charlie Colllins: Put him down as a yes, with so much elaboration I'll put it on the jump.
* Rep. David Meeks: "Yes, See Charlie Collins response for more info."
FROM CHARLIE COLLINS:
Yes, I still support Governor Perry’s run for president. My core reason remains the same, he simply has by far the best track record on creating jobs—His results stand out above the rest. For the past 10 years, Texas increased employment as much as the other 49 states combined—Yes, Texas created one half the new jobs in the entire country (1,117,300 new jobs in Texas vs. 1,044,800 new jobs in the rest of the country between January 2001 and June 2010). For perspective, during this 10 year period Arkansas created 43,800 jobs, a 3.6% increase. If our job creation rate had matched Texas, we would have created three times that many; around 133,300 jobs.
I realize that Governors and Presidents don’t single-handedly create jobs. They help design the job creation environment through their influence on education, taxation, regulation and litigation among other policies and factors. When you do this right, it leads to free enterprise driven innovation and job creation. Governor Perry will bring his personal experience and leadership skills, both in designing and implementing policies that work and in understanding and stopping policies that don’t. He didn’t need to reinvent the wheel in Texas, but could keep a lot of great policies that work in place. I give him credit for that, often leaders go off course. For example, in 1977 Arkansas was ranked 46th in overall state and local tax burden by the Tax Foundation. By 2009, due to higher state and local taxes in Arkansas and lower state and local taxes in the balance of the US, our tax burden rank had increased to 14th. Texas was ranked similarly to Arkansas in 1977, (48th compared to our 46th), but stayed competitive on taxes and was still ranked just 45th in tax burden in 2009.
I do not agree with all of Governor Perry’s positions, for example on illegal immigration. While I applaud the investments he made in Texas to control the border, I believe we need to build the border fence and Governor Perry has stated that he doesn’t. I am also against in state tuition for illegal immigrants, but I understand his rationale in Texas: In light of the federal government failing to secure the border and creating a mess where millions of illegal immigrants now live in Texas, Governor Perry chose to let these folks pay in-state tuition rates if they’d resided in Texas for at least 3 years so they could become tax payers, rather than risk having them become more of a drain on taxpayer resources as adults. I don't agree with this position because I fear it can attract more illegal immigrants, but I don’t expect to agree 100% on all positions with any candidate, so I accept that we differ.
I also don’t think Governor Perry is the best debate speaker in the Presidential field and that perhaps President Obama is— How’s that working out for us?
For me the critical issue at the state, local and national levels, is the economy and job creation. From that vantage point, Governor Perry has the best track record. I also believe all of the major Republican candidates are more prepared and qualified to help the country turn this thing around than the current White House inhabitant. All of them will do more on the key factors driving the economic environment—Education, Taxation, Regulation, and Litigation—so that we can heal the economy and get back on the path to free enterprise inspired innovation and job creation.