With Perry’s announcement, a fact-checking field day around the ‘Texas Miracle’

National media got in line yesterday to pick apart Gov. Rick Perry's remarks. (Patrick Michels/Texas Independent)

The national media treated Gov. Rick Perry to the first fact-check of his presidential campaign over the weekend, continuing with a flurry of coverage Monday.

Everything got picked apart, from the contents of Perry’s corn dog, to just how Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke might be treated were he to wander into Texas.

The “Texas Miracle” — that 40 percent of the net new jobs in the U.S. over the last two year which were created in Perry’s state — was the greatest of talking points.

Perry’s campaign bus in Iowa reads, “Get America Working Again,” the theme of his first presidential campaign ad. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad was excited by Perry’s entry into the race because, he told IowaPolitics.com, “He’s got a great record in Texas. He’s created more jobs than any other governor.”

The Washington Post used that 40-percent number, which originated with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas earlier this year, to begin its fact-check of Perry’s announcement speech over the weekend.

As the Texas Independent pointed out in June, that number of new jobs in Texas includes a hefty share of low-paying ones. Nearly 10 percent of Texans are working at or below minimum wage, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report — a rate that tied with Mississippi for the nation’s worst. Less than two percent of Californians work for as little.

The Post, though, seized on more basic issues with Perry’s wording, pointing out that the statistic only counts jobs created in states with a net job growth over the last two years — not all the jobs created in the country. “Since Texas is adding jobs, and many other states are losing jobs, Texas’s gains become out-sized in a general national survey,” the Post said.

Monday afternoon at the Post, Brad Plumer also picked apart the Texas Miracle point by point, settling on this cocktail of factors: population growth, low regulation, tort reform (limiting doctors’ liabilities in malpractice suits), a relatively minor housing bubble, oil and gas industry success, and an infusion of stimulus money propping up government jobs.

(As the Atlantic noted in January, Perry established a “No Government Bailouts” petition the same day Texas requested federal Recovery Act funds. The stimulus was key to balancing Texas’ budget in the last couple of years — according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Texas relied on the stimulus more than any other state.)

In the New York Times yesterday, Paul Krugman continued picking apart the specifics of Perry’s economic success story:

Mr. Perry will claim that he can restore prosperity to America by applying the same policies at a national level.

So what you need to know is that the Texas miracle is a myth, and more broadly that Texan experience offers no useful lessons on how to restore national full employment.

Cheap workers and low regulation may lure people away from other states, Krugman writes, but there’s a basic problem with trying to expand that to a national scale: “Whatever Mr. Perry may say, what Perrynomics amounts to in practice — involves a fallacy of composition: every state can’t lure jobs away from every other state.”

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