As the presidential candidacy of Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas revs to life, the New York Times is doing its best in both its opinion and news sections to throw sand in the gears.
Times reporter James McKinley Jr. actively led the cheers for Perry’s Democratic opponent during Perry’s 2010 gubernatorial race. This time around, columnist Paul Krugman on Monday tried and failed to knock down Perry’s successful economic record as Texas governor with a misleading column, “The Texas Unmiracle.”
After refuting Krugman’s specious points on wages and population growth, Kevin Williamson at National Review Online concluded: “All of this is too obvious for Paul Krugman to have overlooked it. And I expect he didn’t. I believe that he is presenting willfully incomplete and misleading information to the public, and using his academic credentials to prop up his shoddy journalism.”
(And here’s a detailed numerical analysis of the job picture in Texas, demonstrating why “Texas is adding jobs faster than any other state but still has a relatively high unemployment rate.”)
Times reporter Clifford Krauss followed up on Tuesday from Houston to poke more holes in Perry’s economic record, “In Texas Jobs Boom, Crediting a Leader, or Luck,” using loaded language to ponder if Perry had been merely lucky, or had merely “stumbled into the Texas miracle,” or perhaps gotten a “free ride” off his state’s ample natural resources.
Texas is home to at least one-third of the jobs created nationwide since the recession ended. The state’s economy is growing about three times as fast as the national rate. Home prices have remained stable even as much of the country has seen sharp declines.
Is Texas just lucky, or has the state benefited from exceptional leadership? As Gov. Rick Perry campaigned Monday in Iowa for the Republican presidential nomination – with the economy dominating the national political landscape -- the answer to that question is central to his candidacy.
But some economists as well as Perry skeptics suggest that Mr. Perry stumbled into the Texas miracle. They say that the governor has essentially put Texas on autopilot for 11 years, and it was the state’s oil and gas boom -- not his political leadership -- that kept the state afloat. They also doubt that the Texas model, regardless of Mr. Perry’s role in shaping it, could be effectively applied to the nation’s far more complex economic problems.
And if Mr. Perry were to win the Republican nomination, he would face critics, among them Democrats, who have long complained that the state’s economic health has come at a steep a price: a long-term hollowing out of the state’s prospects because of deep cuts to education spending, low rates of investment in research and development, and a disparity in the job market that confines many blacks and Hispanics to minimum-wage jobs without health insurance.
Few debate that Mr. Perry, 61, has been true to a “less government is better government” philosophy in one of the few states without an income tax. The question his detractors raise, however, is whether Mr. Perry has gotten a free ride -- and has gone untested -- because of the state’s natural resources.