What to Read on Perry vs. Romney

Republican Front-Runners Mitt Romney, Rick Perry Come From Different Worlds — Philip Rucker

One was born into a privileged family in a tony Michigan suburb; the other, onto a flat expanse of West Texas dirt with no indoor plumbing. One spent his youth tooling around his father’s car factory; the other, selling Bibles door to door so he could afford to buy a car. One excelled at Harvard University, simultaneously earning law and business degrees and swiftly climbing the corporate ladder; the other, his hope of becoming a veterinarian dashed when he flunked organic chemistry at Texas A&M University, joined the Air Force.

Where Mitt Romney is obedient and cautious, Rick Perry is bombastic and spontaneous.

“It’s populist against patrician, it’s rural Texas steel against unflappable Romney coolness, conservative versus center-right establishment, Texas strength versus Romney’s imperturbability, Perry’s simplicity versus Romney’s flexibility.”

Romney is campaigning as a steady, capable grown-up who can fix anything that needs fixing; Perry, as a passionate, principled leader who can channel the ire of a frustrated electorate.

Romney represents both the party’s upper-crust establishment and the state — Massachusetts — that for so long has been the GOP’s boogeyman. Perry represents the angry grass roots that are giving the party new energy and he personifies the state — Texas — that for a generation has been the GOP’s soul.

Romney, a former consultant who founded a successful private-equity firm, seems at his best discussing the intricacies of how businesses grow.

It’s when Romney tries to relate to average folks or banter about trivial things that he can struggle.

It’s in relating to people that Perry seems most at ease. He routinely puts down elites.

Perry, Romney Offer Contrasting Approaches to Job Creation in GOP Race — Philip Rucker

Romney’s view of the economy is shaped by his time as a management consultant and venture capitalist. Perry’s frame of reference is his family’s cotton farm and his state’s oil and gas boom.

Despite both candidates’ focus on the economy, neither has offered more than standard Republican positions.

Romney talks more about his business career than his four years as governor of Massachusetts, when the state’s job-creation record was among the worst in the nation. The state did add jobs, about 1 percent, but it bested only Louisiana, devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and Michigan and Ohio, both beset by declines in manufacturing.

Although he is partially responsible for big success stories — for instance, the founding of Staples, the office supplies superstore — he also was involved in controversial decisions, including the laying off of hundreds of workers.

Just the (Tax) Facts: GOP Candidates Parade Terrible Tax Ideas — Citizens for Tax Justice

Perry [supports] the radical balanced budget amendment (BBA)…, [which] would tie the hands of lawmakers to react to changing economic conditions and force immediate catastrophic cuts to critical government programs like Social Security, food inspection, and housing. Although Perry is one of the BBA’s most outspoken advocates, all of the GOP presidential candidates have voiced their support for it in principle.

Romney did reject the claim that 47% of Americans pay no federal income taxes (a popular conservative talking point) when prompted by the moderator. Instead, Romney rightfully noted that every American feels that they are contributing “through the income tax or through other tax vehicles” and that he does not want “to raise taxes on the American people,” presumably even on those on low end who pay very little.

Although Romney signaled his intention to not raise taxes on the poor, his recently released economic plan provides insignificant token relief for lower income Americans and heavily favors tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.

Fact Checking the Tea Party Debate: Republican Candidates Stumble on Tax Issues — Citizens for Tax Justice

Romney made misleading statements about President Barack Obama’s tax record, claiming that Obama “had raised taxes $500 billion.” What’s deceptive about this is that while Obama raised taxes by $500 billion dollars (mostly through the progressive tax included in the healthcare reform bill), he has simultaneously cut taxes overall by more than double that. Specifically, Obama cut taxes by $243 billion as part of the economic recovery act in 2009, $654 billion as part of the tax compromise he signed at the end of 2010, and is now proposing $240 billion in additional payroll tax cuts, to say nothing of his proposal to continue 81 percent  of the Bush tax cuts and other smaller tax cuts at a cost of an additional $3.5 trillion.

Romney expressed skepticism toward the [so-called Fair Tax (a proposed national sales tax)] saying that it would decrease taxes for the “very highest income folks” while increasing taxes for “middle income people.” An analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy confirms this point showing that a Fair Tax would primarily benefit the super-wealthy, while increasing the taxes paid by the bottom 80 percent by more than half.

While rejecting the radically regressive Fair Tax may seem like a logical move for any presidential candidate who wants to be taken seriously, Romney is actually bucking at least half of the Republican field (and most notably current front-runner Texas Governor Rick Perry) who have come out in favor of it.

Perry Struggles To Make His Foreign Policy All That Different From Obama’s — Benjy Sarlin

“I think the entire conversation about, how do we deliver our aid to those countries, and is it best spent with 100,000 military who have the target on their back in Afghanistan, I don’t think so at this particular point in time,” Perry said…, calling for a transition to Afghan forces.

But the next day,…an unnamed adviser [said] that “a precipitous withdrawal is not what he’s recommending.” But the same adviser also mentioned that Perry might entertain using only 40,000 troops in Afghanistan — far below numbers either Obama or his generals have suggested is doable so far.

Previously he had been called out for condemning “military adventurism” while also urging Americans to “renew our commitment to taking the fight to the enemy wherever they are before they strike at home,” employing two loaded and contradictory phrases associated with the Bush administration’s foreign policy.

Mitt Romney [said,] “One lesson we’ve learned in Afghanistan is that Americans cannot fight another nation’s war of independence.” He quickly followed up by indicating that he would first consult with generals on the ground before coming up with any timetable for withdrawal. Later that month, he criticized President Obama for planning to reduce troop numbers…

Romney simultaneously supported the Libya mission, criticized Obama’s “tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced” foreign policy, and offered no suggestion as to what he would have done instead as president. The next month he accused the White House of “mission creep and mission muddle” for expanding airstrikes beyond their stated goal of preventing civilian deaths, and quoted former Bush aide John Bolton warning that Obama was setting himself up for “massive strategic failure” by demanding Qaddafi’s removal. Qaddafi’s regime appears to be gone for good, a development that Romney celebrated with no reference to Obama’s policies.

As a general policy, Romney has consistently condemned Obama as a wuss on the world stage… Obama has heavily escalated the Afghanistan war, initiated a second military conflict in Libya, and ordered a raid into an allied nation’s territory to kill Osama Bin Laden…

Rick Perry’s Crotch Shot — William Saletan

Perry attacked the Massachusetts health care law signed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney. Perry said the program showed “what will not work, and that is an individual mandate in this country.” People “don’t want a health care plan like what Governor Romney put in place in Massachusetts,” Perry concluded. “What they would like to see is the federal government get out of their business.”

Half an hour later, Perry defended a 2007 executive order in which he ordered girls to be vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus.

Perry can’t continue to denounce mandatory health insurance while defending mandatory vaccinations for a sexually transmitted virus…

Perry’s Immigration Problem: Even Bigger Than It Looks — Byron York / David Frum

Start with the border fence. Perry opposes it. “Building a wall on the entire border is a preposterous idea,” he said recently in New Hampshire. “The only thing a wall would possibly accomplish is to help the ladder business.”

Perry opposes E-verify, which is a program requiring employers to check the legal status of new hires.

Then there is taxpayer-subsidized, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. Perry signed the Texas Dream Act in 2001 making it the law in Texas. [He] still supports the measure

“I support a guest worker program that takes undocumented workers off the black market and legitimizes their economic contributions without providing them citizenship status,” Perry said in 2006. “A guest worker program that provides foreign workers with an ID removes the incentive for millions of people to illegally enter our country.”

By contrast,…Romney articulated something almost never said in a Republican primary: much, much, much more important than a fence or “boots on the ground” is tighter enforcement of labor laws inside the country.