On tonight's On the Record with Greta van Susteren, Van Susteren interviewed Texas Governor Rick Perry, and to call it a softball interview would be an insult to softballs and softball players the world over. My particular favorite was this gem:
VAN SUSTEREN: I had never sort of compared California to Texas. Two states that have a lot in common and very different in terms of their situation right now. You have an unemployment rate of a little over 8 percent.
PERRY: Yeah 8.1 percent today. Art Laffer did a very good comprehensive study just this last year between California and Texas. It's a powerful piece of work. The tax structure -- it boils down to four things: Don't spend all the money. Have a tax and regulatory policy that is fair and predictable. Have a legal system that doesn't allow for oversuing. And continue to fund accountable public schools with the message there is, there's a skilled workforce if you want to expand or you want to come to the state of Texas. 153 businesses, just since the first of the year Greta, have moved out of California to Texas, through September.
VAN SUSTEREN: California has a horrible problem with money, it's no secret. We are constantly doing reports asking whether California is financially going to fall into the Pacific Ocean. How are you doing in Texas?
PERRY: Well, we have a balanced budget amendment in the State of Texas. Our bond rating is one of the highest ones. Our per-capita debt is $520 per person, that's it. Compare that to the federal government that's $42,600. And California I want to say is like eighteen, nineteen hundred dollars. New York, $3200. So our per capita debt is very low and we'll have a balanced budget at the end of the day without raising taxes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Next, more with Governor Perry, he has a story about Governor Sarah Palin and we guarantee it will make you laugh.
Van Susteren is basically asking "So why are you and Texas so awesome Governor Perry?" Had she or her researchers typed "Texas Budget" into their Google News search bar, they'd have quickly learned that Texas is facing a $25 billion budget shortfall, a crisis "of truly daunting proportions."
Contrary to Perry and Van Susteren's complaints about California, the Dallas Morning News reported two weeks ago that for Texas "the gap is now proportionately larger than the deficit California recently closed with cuts and fee increases... Public schools, college students and government employees, not just poor and needy Texans, might very well lose money, grants, benefits and even livelihoods during and after next year's legislative session."
The Morning News also pins part of the blame for this budget hole on tax cuts passed during Perry's administration:
Even in the budget crises of the late 1980s, 1991 and 2003, Texas never cut state funding of public schools.
But declines in revenues, property values and federal Medicaid help have added between $3 billion and $4 billion this month to a late-August guess that the two-year shortfall could top $20 billion.
Ongoing expenses, including property tax cuts passed four years ago, cost between $95 billion and $100 billion in state funds, now that a federal flow of stimulus cash is winding down.
But not to worry. Perry promised they'll balance the budget "without raising taxes" - and Van Susteren let him, deciding not to press him on either the size of the budget hole or the size of the budget cuts that would be required to close it without increasing revenues. It seems relevant. If the governor of a state is going to be on your show boasting about his state's superior economic performance and that state in fact has a budget shortfall of "truly daunting proportions," isn't that something you might want to ask?
I guess the BREAKING NEWS of Perry's funny Sarah Palin story takes precedence. Journalism!