Is Rick Perry Secretly Liberal?


Rick Perry has made no bones about his conservative credentials — he thinks that Social Security is unconstitutional and that the federal government should not be allowed to levy an income tax. Despite these Tea Party views, though, some liberal bloggers are pointing out that he might have something of a liberal streak. Though no bleeding heart, Perry supports some important liberal pet projects and might support policies that save blue states money.

It started last week when Robert Reich, current Berkeley professor and former Clinton secretary of labor, jokingly posted to his blog that Perry’s strict state’s rights economic plan would be a boon to traditionally Democratic states. Perry has made it clear that he does not believe in a federal income tax. Ironically, though, the income tax more often than not goes to fund programs in Republican states over Democratic ones. Whereas states like Kentucky and Alabama get back over $1.50 for every dollar they put in, California and New York get less than 80 cents to the dollar. If Perry did, in fact, introduce fiscal secessionism where states support themselves, then liberal states could afford to offer more programs for the same cost as what they’re paying now. In essence, Perry would stop blue states from subsidizing red states.

Though Reich was probably joking when he said that “Rick Perry’s fight to save America from Washington is really a secret plan to save blue states from red states,” Perry has actually passed a series of laws that would make any progressive’s wishlist. Tim Murphy at Mother Jones does something of a round-up of Perry’s more liberal policies. For example, Perry was the first governor to back and sign the DREAM act for his state, giving the children of undocumented immigrants a path to college education and citizenship.

He is also the poster-child for prison reform, reducing overcrowding and halting the construction of more prisons. With blue states like California dealing with unconstitutional prison overcrowding and New York refusing to evacuate its prisoners in light of Hurricane Irene, Perry’s prison record actually looks pretty good, especially for a Texas governor.

Of course, the problem with all of this is that Rick Perry, despite occasionally taking a progressive or reformist bent, is still one of the most conservative politicians vying for the Presidency. Given his recent flips on issues such as gay rights and abortion, it seems as though Candidate Perry is much less of an open-minded reformer than Governor Perry. At the very least, though, these revelations should serve as a wakeup call for progressive politicians who have a hard time decreasing the size of the prison industrial complex — if Rick Perry can make prisons more humane, so can the governors of liberal states like California.

Related Stories:

Texas Set to Execute Man Because of His Race

Did David Frum Call Rick Perry a Crook?

Morning Mix: Is Perry Dumb, Or Just Bush Like?

Photo from eschipul via flickr.

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Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle4 years ago

Oh pu-leeze! I live in Texas, and I can attest that he ain't liberal.

Sound Mind
Ronald E.4 years ago

Perry is skillful at sniffing out where the money is and changes like a chameleon to appeal to the highest bidders. Thus, he talks out of both ends.

M.E. W.
M.E. W.4 years ago

Perry is a typical right-wing hypocrite; he'll do & say anything to get elected. Never mind that his rhetoric is often contradictory - it's a special talent to be able to talk out of both sides of your mouth!

Philip S.
Philip S.4 years ago

Perry is whatever it takes to be elected, if that is being the most liberal or conservative that's what he'll be. He has no real beliefs and is only a puppet.

Ellen Mccabe
ellen m.4 years ago

In answer to the question..
Only in sharing his ignorance and intolerance with us. Oh yes, please add greed to the list.

Suzanne H.
Suzanne H.4 years ago

Slicky Ricky is good buddies with the Koch Brothers....Check out brothers audio..................

Bruce V.

Let Texas keep him.

Leo L.
Leo L.4 years ago

Oh, I believe he is a dominionist too. Definitely worth knowing about - dominionism and who subscribes to this "rather extreme" (to put it mildly) view of religion.

Leo L.
Leo L.4 years ago

I live in Texas. I would not call Perry liberal. Supports the death penalty, against gay marriage. We have some of the worst schools, healthcare and air quality. And right now, Mr "no tax" is whining because the feds are slow to dispense disaster relief to our areas devastated by wildfire. So which is it Mr Perry, yes to much needed disaster relief, and yes to taxes, or no to both (and you can be in charge of explaining to the people in Bastrop why not). He is dishonest. And to you "Princess Bride" film fans, he looks (and rather acts) like prince Humperdinck.

fritzi` c.
fritzi c.4 years ago

Regarding prison reform, Perry has more executions under his belt than any other governor in American history. I vote for nutcake. and a mean one.