in Houston, Texas
Is Gov. Rick Perry tweeting while the stimulus burns?
Friday, Mar 13, 2009, 12:48PM CST
By Matt Pulle
As the Burnt Orange Report points out, Gov. Rick Perry looks tone-deaf announcing plans to reject $555 million in federal aid to the unemployed near the Galleria in Houston -- one of the richest parts of Texas. What will be interesting to see is whether the the legislature can defy Perry's wishes and accept the money anyway, which would set up another volatile showdown in Austin. And you thought the battle over the voter ID law was bitter.

Obviously, Republicans control both the Senate and the House, but that hardly means that every member of the GOP will want to follow Perry's lead and turn down money for the state's dwindling unemployment fund. To wit, Republican Jim Pitts of Waxahachie, chairman of the Texas House Appropriations Committee, has already voted to take in federal unemployment aid.

Perry, meanwhile, says that feds' stimulus money amounts to an unfunded mandate, forcing the state to prop up a massive unemployment program after the money dries up. The Democrats counter that rejecting the aid will only increase the tax employers pay into the program and exacerbate the $800 million projected deficit for the state's unemployment compensation trust fund.

It's shaping up to be a classic policy debate, which will be further animated by the prospect of Republicans joining Democrats in opposition to Perry's decision. That's not to suggest this is just political theater. Two hundred thousand Texans have already lost their jobs since the beginning of the recession. If Perry doesn't think the stimulus money will really help them, fine. But easy with the photo ops. And at least make this look like it was a tough decision when you're tweeting.

kevin whited
Friday, 03/13/2009 - 09:40PM

** If Perry doesn’t think the stimulus money will really help them, fine. **

I'm sure Perry's critics want the argument framed that way. But another framing is that Texas doesn't especially need the unfunded mandate from D.C., as you point out. Federalism has become something of a quaint notion these days, which makes this political scientist a little sad.

** And at least make this look like it was a tough decision when you’re tweeting. **

What's wrong with government officials tweeting? I'm all for government officials getting their message out, sans filters. Yeah, so a great deal of it is spin. But I can evaluate their spin without the help of a middleman adding HIS spin too. I can also block the silly b@st@rds. We needs MORE pols tweeting, not fewer! They are more manageable that way. :)

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