Perry calls Obama socialist, sets Truth-O-Meter aflame

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was on stage twice over the weekend with the other Republican presidential candidates.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry was on stage twice over the weekend with the other Republican presidential candidates.

Debating in New Hampshire on Sunday, Gov. Rick Perry repeated a claim about President Barack Obama that has become a mainstay of some of his critics: He’s a socialist!

Perry made the statement after being asked whether he agrees with Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain's statement in a Washington Post op-ed on Jan. 16, 2011, that he disagrees with many of Obama’s policies but rejects accusations that the president's "policies and belief make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals." McCain lost the 2008 presidential election to Obama.

Perry's reply: "I make a very proud statement and of fact that we have a president that's a socialist. I don't think our founding fathers wanted America to be a socialist country. So I disagree with that premise that somehow or another that President Obama reflects our founding fathers. He doesn't. He talks about having a more powerful, more centralized, more consuming and costly federal government."

After the debate, PolitiFact National explored the question of whether Obama is in fact a socialist, comparing the president's tax policies and major initiatives with this definition of socialism: support for "governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods." The upshot: Obama policies such as the health care law and the economic stimulus add up to flimsy evidence for even beginning to show that he's a socialist.

Conservative economist Bruce Bartlett told PolitiFact: "Socialism means public ownership of the means of production. Obama does not believe this. Therefore he is not a socialist. … Although it is true that the federal government did come to own some private businesses as a consequence of bailout policies initiated by the George W. Bush administration such as (the Troubled Asset Relief Program), the Obama administration sold many of them — such as its shares in GM — as quickly as feasible. A true socialist would have held on to them."

Put to the Truth-O-Meter, Perry’s claim rates as ridiculous. Obama's policies may have expanded government, but they don't justify the hyperbole of Perry’s charge. Pants on Fire!