Perry’s Answer

I’ll admit that I wasn’t watching last night’s debate when Gov. Rick Perry made his infamous “oops.”* But an earlier statement he made had already caught my attention. Perry was hammering on government regulation. And he had a proposal: Audit all federal regulation since 2008 and ask whether it creates jobs or hinders job growth. If it doesn’t create jobs, eliminate it.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

This isn’t the first time that Perry has suggested a regulatory audit. In his recent WSJ op-ed(pdf) he called for an audit to determine the “need, impact, and effect on job creation” of all regulations since 2008. But in the debate he takes this a step further, making it a great example counter-example of moderation on two counts.

  1. Pure partisanship: I get that you can be a conservative who believes government regulation has gone too far or even that it is bad in principle. But the “since 2008” condition is pure partisanship. Can Perry really believe that all regulation coming out of the federal government under President Bush’s tenure was above reproach, above even requiring an audit, when regulation since calls for an audit so urgently that it would be one of the first acts of a President Perry?
  2. Too-Narrow Focus: More troubling, Perry’s newly-narrowed criteria would be disastrous for the nation. I can understand the conservative position that job growth should be a factor in considering whether to implement regulation. Especially with the economy as it is, elevating that priority may be a good idea. But jobs aren’t the only American value or the sole purpose of government. Safety comes to mind, for instance. Health. Clean air and water. I’m sure we could make coal power plants more profitable (and therefore more likely to employ more workers) if we ended environmental and safety regulations, allowing the unfettered dumping of pollutants, release of toxic chemicals, and flouting of safety conventions. But the rest of us (including those workers) would like to be able to live, not just work.

I know this is campaign season and that candidates feel pressure to adopt heated rhetoric to stir up their base, but this is ridiculous. Abolishing every regulation created over the last 3 years that wasn’t “job creating” won’t make our nation better. Perry should know better and he should preach better.


P.S. – Question for Newt Gingrich: Dodd-Frank was passed years after the housing market slump began. So why is repealing Dodd-Frank the answer to all our housing woes?


* I’ve watched it since and do have one comment. His campaign tried to spin this as an example of Perry being “human” and a regular guy, not “overly coached.” I’d say it revealed just the opposite: His list of three came directly from pre-debate coaching, not personal convictions. Otherwise, when he could only name two, he would have said, “Sorry, I meant two agencies.” Instead, he kept searching for that other answer he’d been given, knowing that there were supposed to be three. The answer, when he finally recalled it, came from his poor memory, not from personal conviction. – Not that this should have been a difficult challenge. When I watched the incident I knew right away that the third conservative bogey-agency along with Commerce and Education was Energy, especially if you’re governor of Texas. But then, I wasn’t standing in the spotlights of a nationally televised presidential debate trying to remember my coaching.

2 Responses to Perry’s Answer
  1. kaahl
    November 23, 2011 | 7:38 pm

    I find presidents taking credit or getting blamed for jobs laughable. Even traditional economic models I think have a hard time demonstrating where job growth comes from. By the way, these are the same economic models that utterly failed us in the most recent crisis. The economics profession is going through a bit of soul searching right now.

    The idea that you could have some sort of “audit” of the impact of all this spending is ridiculous. Almost all the economic sacred cows are targets right now. There is even disagreement over some basic things like how money is created? (Traditional economics says banks get deposits, keep some for reserves, and loan the rest out. How it actually works is banks extend credit, which end up as deposits in another bank, and look for reserves later.)

    Any audit would just be a “rent an economist” affair. Stupid.

    • Jason
      November 23, 2011 | 9:54 pm

      I agree.