Aw shucks, Rick Perry blasted Washington while signing request for billions, Back to Basics ad says
The latest advertising spot from the Back to Basics political committee — which has hammered GOP Gov. Rick Perry for his refusal to debate Democratic challenger Bill White until White releases more tax returns — zooms in on what the ad's folksy-sounding narrator suggests is Perry's inconsistency about resisting what Perry often characterizes as nasty ol' Washington. Cliff Walker, the committee's executive director, told us the spot debuted on TV today; he declined to name the TV markets where it's running.
Titled "Rick Perry Thinks You're a Sucker," the spot juxtaposes Perry encouraging viewers to send a letter to Washington saying what they think about "all this stimulus, all this runaway spending" with a letter of his own sent that-a way. In February 2009, Perry wrote President Barack Obama assuring the Democratic leader that Texas would welcome stimulus aid. Perry's Feb. 18, 2009 letter, posted on the governor's state website, certified that Texas would accept the just-approved stimulus aid.
In July, we mentioned Perry's acceptance letter while reviewing White's statement that Perry accepted more stimulus funds than any governor except those of California and New York. While we found figures suggesting White's claim holds up, that information wasn't entirely conclusive; we rated his statement Mostly True.
The Back to Basics ad's narrator says Perry "personally signed a letter asking the president for $12 billion. He used it to bail out his own deficit here in Texas." Walker told us today that while Perry's letter doesn't specify the $12 billiion figure, the PAC chose that number because it's the most conservative one it's seen. Walker passed along a September 2009 Houston Chronicle news article stating Perry accepted more than $12 billion in stimulus money to balance the state budget. In our article on White's Texas-versus-California-and-New-York article, we said lawmakers ended up putting $14.4 billion in stimulus money toward paying budgetary expenses for 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Unnoted by the Back to Basics ad: Perry's letter opens by stating he's writing to comply with stipulations in the federal-stimulus law. That law gave each state's governor 45 days to say they'd accept the funds. There also was a provision for each state legislature to provide the certification should the state's governor fail to do so.
We also pointed out in July that Perry hasn't opened his arms to all federal aid opportunities. Last year, he opposed about $550 million for the state's unemployment trust fund—aid that was contingent on Texas making it easier for workers to qualify for unemployment benefits. The governor said businesses would have had to pay higher unemployment taxes after the federal dollars ran out. An effort by some legislators to overrule Perry died in the state House. And this year, Perry caused a stir by opting not to apply for additional education stimulus funding in the competitive federal grant program known as Race to the Top.