Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has gone from pondering his state’s departure from the union because of the federal stimulus package to asking for his cut of the cash. Perry has the federal government for a $170 million loan in order for the state to continue playing unemployment benefits.
In March, Perry turned down federal funds for unemployment benefits, despite the fact that Texas covers the smallest percentage of unemployed workers of any state in nation. Perry said, “This was pretty simple for us. Keep things going like they’re going in Texas. We can take care of ourselves. And we do not need any more strings from Washington attached to programs.”
This week, Perry tried to play down the situation. The governor said, “This is nothing out of the ordinary. We’re following protocol that we put in place.” The problem for Perry is that the state’s unemployment fund would have been replenished by $555 million of stimulus money that he rejected.
Perry’s desire to use the stimulus as a reelection issue will now cost his state hundreds of millions of dollars that they could have gotten for free. This is almost certain to come back and burn him in the tough primary challenge that he is set to face against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. By trying to politicize the stimulus, Perry may have gone and gotten himself voted out of office.
All of Perry’s political maneuverings going back to the tea party secession talk have been done in an attempt to get an upper hand on Hutchison, but voters to take kindly to having to borrow money that they could have had for free. Much like Mark Sanford did, Rick Perry has completely bungled his opposition to the stimulus.