What Rick Perry's book says about his beliefs

Aug 31, 2011

Chat with Ruth Marcus about what Rick Perry's book "Fed Up!" says about Perry as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Ask questions now! Read: Rick Perry, by the book

Does Perry say how he would achieve a congressional override by congress of the supreme court? Would he amend the constitution or simply ignore it?

I think (although he doesn't say) that it would require a constitutional amendment.  Although I suppose Congress could try to pass a law...that would have to get past the Supreme Court.  Either way, a truly terrible idea.

What was going on in Texas that Perry was elected governor three times?

Um, Texas being Texas? 

I've never understood this obsession with turning the clock back to the late 1700s. The whole genius of our constitutional system is its flexibility -- it was deliberately designed to accomodate disparate interests. There have been 27 amendments, many of them meant to correct oversights in the original drafting or to respond to changed realities. The Civil War is irrefutable evidence that the original federal-state balance the Founders envisioned was wrong. Nothing that's happened since then changes the fact that without a strong federal government this country would never have survived. It's profoundly ironic that the people most likely to advocate these extreme retro-state's rights arguments tend to live in places like Texas and Utah and Alaska -- places that would never be as prosperous as they are if it weren't for the federal government we have.

I agree with your basic thrust but don't think it's the late 1700's--more like the early 1930's--before there was an effective federal regulatory state.  That sounds to some ears like a bad thing but we're talking about the ability to assure safe food, decent working conditions, clean air and water--things that one would have thought we beyond dispute.  The interesting thing about the Perry approach is not the argument that there has been regulatory overreach but that the federal government shouldn't be in this business at all!

What was Rick Perry's gpa at Texas A&M and how many times was he placed on academic probation. How can we find out his scores on the ACT or SAT? I'm a native Texan and from observing his actions I think he has a very low IQ and he would not debate fellow candidates inhis run gor governor.

I would be very sorry to have candidate's SAT or ACT scores made public.  Come on!  There's enough to judge Perry on from his actions in office and his writings. 

Does the book address whether or not Perry believes that the US should become a theocracy?

I'm sure he would dispute that characterization by my colleague Dana Milbank, in his excellent column this morning.  But he obviously sees much more of a role for religion in public life.

Let me preface this by stating that I raised my hand in both situations, but not because of the reasons your stated in your opinion piece. Republican Party ideology is secretly rooted in libertariansism, but most "mainstream republicans" have kept that in the closet for many years. So much so, that they embraced non-libertarian policies in order to get things done in DC. The left too left their base to come to the middle for the sake of progress. The increased polarization of American politics is bringing these views out of the closet. It comes down to the core battle between individualism and collectivism, rural vs. urban. The collectivist marxist agenda of the progressive left is more than evident with policies like universal health care. Do you think these ever-widening gaps can ever be mended or are they only going to get worse?

I disagree with so many sentneces in this question I'm not sure where to start, but let me talk about the ever-widening gaps in political life, which is an area that we may agree on.  This is a huge problem and one thing that makes it much worse is the extreme gerrymandering of congressional districts, which favors House candidates  to the extreme in both parties.  I would love to see a switch to nonpartisan redistricting. 

Did you scrutinize Obama this way? Like when the President called for a "civilian" national defense corp as big and well funded as the U.S. Military? That sounds scarier than anything you've detailed in Perry's book.

Well, I'm not so sure I'm scared, but, yes, I did read Obama's book(s) when he was a candidate--actually, before he was a candidate--and was not especially scared but not completely bowled over, either.

Did Rick Perry actually write this book?

He had help with it as every candidate/author does.  But he has said it reflects his views and it's got his name on it--taht's enough for me!

I'd like for Perry to explain the discrepancy in his beliefs when it comes to the federal government. On the one hand, he complains about federal overreach, and applauds the rights of states to set their own rules, even if he doesn't agree with them (on marijuana in CA, gay marriage in MA). But he then goes on to say he would support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. It would seem he suffers from the same hypocrisy that many other social conservatives do - they want limited government, except when it can be used to further their agenda. I'd like him to explain this.

Yup, and remember he originally said that he had no problem with New York deciding to allow gay marriage. 

What you seem to have problems with in your column are the very things that I agree with perry about. You jumped from 'no income tax' to 'only taxing the poor.' He never said that. The states have NO ability to have any say in congress. That is why the foundign fathers put in the constitution that the states get to appoint senators. Now, the feds pass all these laws, and require the states to do stuff, and no one is there representing the states and their rights. I don't see anything terrifying in those statements by perry. and the new deal and 'great' society? they have only given us what every liberal hates: the 'larger' gap between rich and poor (but, you say the elderly are NO LONGER poor? huh?). I think the REASON that that gap keeps widening is because we keep trying to make things 'fair.' the more you do that, the less fair it seems to get (do we not have 40 or 50 years of data on this?).

So...on the imcome tax, Perry has suggested repealing the 16th amendment and criticized the progressive structure of the tax code.  I didn't get into this in the column, but in his book, he complians that the income tax was originally only supposed to apply to the very wealthy--yet on the campaign trail he complains that nearly half of people don't pay federal income tax.  (I wrote a previous column on this subject.) 

States get a HUGE say in Congress--the whole structure of the Senate guarantees that, no matter how senators are elected.  See, e.g., agriculture subsidies. 


As to Perry's terrfying statements, if you would like to go back to an American without Social Security and Medicare for the elderly, without Medicaid for the poor, without laws protecting food safety or clean air and water, ok, but I think that would be a terrible idea.


One thing I noticed about John McCain was how exhausted he was always have to defend Barack Obama from the wacky smears against him. McCain is a politician and didn't want Obama to win, which is fine, but his message harmed by having to tell wacko supporters that Obama isn't an untrustworthy Arab. But what about Rick Perry? Will he take that even slightly high-road? Or will 2012 be the campaign that Sarah Palin wanted with non-stop talk about Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayres and questioning whether Obama's wife wants to take chocolate chip cookies away from elementary school children.

Wow, that assumes Perry winning the nomination--which I'm not yet there on.  But he is a pretty sharp-elbowed campaigner, as the last Texas gov. race shows. 

Comments like this do nothing to get past the partisan garbage that seems to interfere with any civil discourse. I am not from Texas and have never been to Texas but I am a little offended on behalf of every Texan to be dismissed as a yokel or idiot. Or, am I assuming incorrectly and what you actually meant was that Texas has such a unique set of circumstances that Rick Perry was actually a good choice? If that's the case, I apologize and please do explain that answer; I'm intrigued.

Ok, so I apologize for being a bit cheeky in that answer, but I did not mean to dismiss Texans as yokels or idiots.  Just that their choices in governors in recent years would not have been mine.  I do care about civility so I take your criticism seriously.

I guess we'll see Mr. Perry's scores that you ask for right after Obama releases his college transcripts.

My point is I was NOT asking for Perry's scores. 

Do you realize articles highlighting Perry's well formed opinions and solutions are working to galvanize the GOP behind his candidacy?

Maybe.  Maybe among some in the GOP.  It is clearly, and certainly among primary voters, a different party than even five or ten years ago.  But it's ok with me if people read his book (or my column about it) and feel energized to vote for him.  I'd rather have informed Perry supporters than uninformed ones.

So when's Perry going to reimburse the federal government for the billions of dollars Houston got thanks to NASA? Or is that an exception to the rule against federal dollars being spent on job programs?

Actually, there is a section in the book about the space program  and I think that is one of his exceptions to the limited federal government role.  And, to be fair, I think that is consistent with his vision--for example, he clearly believes national defense is a legitimate federal role.

I despair when I read a comment like the one from the earlier poster: "no one is there representing the states and their rights." How do we deal with a disconnect like this, built up by the constant drumbeat of extreme right wing talking points? I'm not sure who the poster thinks votes for the members of Congress. Last time I looked, the 2 Senators and all the Representatives for each state were elected by, wait for it....the citizens of that state. The line is so illogical that I fear trying to counter it will fail. Can we ever overcome the stain of propaganda to have real intelligent debate on political issues?

Well I think the anti-17th amendment argument is that it allows senators to feel too freed of individual state concerns.  I don't buy that, as I explained earlier, but I don't think this is going to be a big issue in the race. 



conclusions! no one ever said: get rid of social security. yet that's what you're saying!!! Perhaps you might admit that there is something wrong with a system wherein people collect checks for 30-40 years? that could be longer than someone's work life. Perhaps there need to be fundamental changes to that? someone needs to admit we can't afford this anymore?

I've written quite a bit about the need to make changes to Social Security and adjust for longer life spans.  But Perry questions whether it is constitutional, calls it a failure and questions whether the federal government should be in the retirement support business.  

Might be difficult in Washington DC, the East Coast and much of the West Coast to understand but, Perry, the Tea Party, Palin, etc represent the kitchen table thought patterns of most Americans. Question: are you REALLY being intellectually honest and understanding when you question some of these beliefs-as if these folks are: idiots and/or from another planet??

Well, this might be a good place to stop.  I guess we'll find out, during the primary campaign and perhaps the general election, whether Perry, The Tea Party, Palin etc. do represent the kitchen table thought patterns of most Americans.  I have to say: I hope not.  

Thanks for the smart questions, everyone.


In This Chat
Ruth Marcus
Ruth Marcus graduated from Yale College and Harvard Law School. While in law school, Marcus worked as a summer intern and later a stringer for The Post. Demonstrating the good judgment that has marked her career, she decided to give up a secure and lucrative future in law to continue in journalism.

Marcus joined The Post as a general assignment reporter in the Prince George's County bureau in 1984, then covered legal affairs for the metro staff. She moved to the national desk to cover the Justice Department, the Supreme Court, and—in the waning days of the Bush administration and the first two years of Clinton's term—the White House.
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