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MEMO: Unanswered Questions From The GOP Debate / Rick Perry Joins The Race

To: Sunday Show hosts & producers
From: Rodell Mollineau, President, American Bridge
RE: Unanswered questions from the GOP debate / Rick Perry joins the race
Date: 8-12-11

Thursday night, the Republican candidates for President took the stage for a debate in Iowa.

Though the proceedings were overshadowed by Rick Perry, who is following in Fred Thompson’s footsteps as the GOP’s “next big thing,” there was a moment in the debate which provided perhaps the most important insight into the current state of the Republican Party. Each of the candidates raised their hand to indicate that they would walk away from any compromise legislation that included revenue, even at a 10:1 ratio in favor of spending cuts. This should not be considered a surprise considering the brinksmanship of Republican candidates who have used extreme rhetoric advocating default or dangerous economic policies to push our economy over the edge.

With that said, here are the questions that we’re still waiting for Republican candidates to answer:

Michele Bachmann: At a townhall meeting in South Carolina last month, you told a crowd that everybody should pay taxes. Considering that our current tax code does not collect federal income from people whose income falls below the threshold on which you can support a family, would you support a compromise deal that raised revenue by taxing the poor people who don’t currently pay federal income tax?

Mitt Romney: Recently you said that you “love” the idea of a flat tax, but not a flat tax which mainly gives a tax cut to the wealthy. Since a flat tax, by definition, drastically lowers the income tax rate for the wealthy, can you explain what sort of flat tax you envision for the nation?

Tim Pawlenty: In response to S&P’s recent credit rating downgrade, you called President Obama “inept.” But when Moody’s downgraded Minnesota’s AAA bond rating during your time as Governor, you said “Two out of three isn’t bad.” Isn’t that a double standard?

Jon Huntsman: Your family’s chemical company recently agreed to pay $33 million dollars to settle a lawsuit accusing them of price fixing and anti-competitive business practices while you were working as an executive—what can you say to ease concerns voters have about your business background?

And of course, Rick Perry managed to miss all the fun on Thursday night. Which is a shame, because there are some serious questions being raised about the record he touts of being a job creator:

  •  Experts say much of Texas’ job growth has a great deal to do with your state’s natural advantages: oil and gas deposits, cheap housing, and a close proximity to Mexico, among others. Additionally, 300,000 of the jobs created during your term have been in government, and Texas is tied with Mississippi for the highest percentage of jobs paying minimum wage or less. How can you bring jobs to a city like Detroit when so much of your state’s success is out of your hands?
  • You’ve faced criticism from Tea Party groups on several fronts: giving illegal immigrants in-state tuition, mandating the HPV vaccine for school-age girls, and proposing a large transportation project that would have taken private land. Texas also depended more than any other state on federal stimulus funds to plug its budget deficit. Aren’t you trying to have it both ways when you rail against Washington?
  •  You’ve been the governor of Texas for over a decade, longer than anyone else. In that time, you’ve raised millions upon millions of dollars, both for yourself and the Republican Governors Association. You’ve also appointed hundreds of your donors to patronage positions, given taxpayer funds to their companies, and in some cases even pushed legislation on their behalf. Can we expect you to prioritize ethics in Washington when you’ve shown little interest in reforming Texas?
  • You’re one of Washington’s most vocal critics, and a strong advocate for “state-based solutions” to issues like health care reform. But over a quarter of Texans lack health insurance – the highest rate in the nation – and your state’s health care costs doubled under your watch. Why should we follow your lead?

Rick Perry Background:

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE TEXAS ECONOMY

Rick Perry is quick to tout his state’s job growth on the campaign trail, but the real story of the Texas jobs “miracle” is decidedly mixed. The state’s private sector job growth has been far outpaced by the Texas government, and many new positions are low-paying and lack benefits: Texas is tied with Mississippi for the highest percentage of low-wage workers in the country. The state also boasts a variety of natural advantages not easy replicated, ranging from its oil and natural gas reserves to a massive border with Mexico. And Perry’s primary economic incentive tools as governor – the Texas Enterprise Fund and Emerging Technology Fund – have issued grants to businesses owned by Perry’s political donors even when they fail to create jobs.

RICK PERRY: TEA PARTY FRENEMY

Rick Perry was quick to recognize and capitalize on the tea party’s rise in 2009, casting himself as a strong advocate for “state-based” solutions and railing against perceived encroachments from Washington. But activists have been less than impressed with Perry’s deviation from the movement’s hardline stances on immigration, property rights, government mandates and spending itself.

PERRY’S REPEATED ETHICAL LAPSES

In Rick Perry’s office, the revolving door spins both ways: Perry has recruited several senior staffers from the ranks of Austin’s lobbying community, and at least 17 of his former aides have left for lobbying careers. Being close to Perry has its benefits – Perry had appointed nearly a thousand of his donors to boards and commissions, has supported legislation on their behalf, and directed large business incentive grants to their companies. Even Perry himself has profited, thanks to questionable stock and real estate investments involving close allies.