- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 1, 2012


Gov. Rick Perry is a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. He has been elected governor three times and served the remainder of George W. Bush’s second term when the latter became the 43rd president of the United States, making Mr. Perry the longest-serving chief executive in Texas history. He also has been lieutenant governor, a three-term state representative and was the Texas Agriculture Commissioner for two terms. Mr. Perry’s life of public service began when he was a pilot in the Air Force from 1972-77. You can find out more about his campaign at: www.rickperry.org.

Decker: What would tax reform look like in a Perry administration?

Perry: Like virtually everything else in Washington, our tax code is broken and must be completely overhauled. The centerpiece of my Cut, Balance & Grow plan is a 20 percent flat tax for individuals and employers. My plan gives every American the opportunity to throw out the current tax code and replace it with a flat tax that is simple enough to file on a postcard. It also cuts taxes on employers and provides strong incentives to use foreign profits to create jobs and build factories here at home. That’s just a quick thumbnail sketch.

Decker: What are the most important steps a new president should take immediately to get America back on the right track?

Perry: Despite our economic circumstances, I really am optimistic about our future. As president, I’ll follow the same principles that have helped Texas gain one million jobs while the rest of the country lost two million jobs. The first thing I will do is immediately open federal lands and waters for energy exploration. That will not only reduce our dependence on hostile nations, it will create over one million jobs across all sectors of our economy. Second, I will freeze all pending federal regulations, audit each one to determine its necessity, and get rid of the ones that kill jobs. We will also repeal a host of laws that hurt job creation, such as Obamacare. Third, I’ll work to pass my Cut, Balance and Grow plan. In addition to the tax reforms I already mentioned, it cuts billions in government spending, caps spending going forward and permanently bans bailouts and earmarks.
Decker: As commander in chief, what would you do about Iran’s program to develop nuclear weapons?

Perry: A nuclear Iran is the greatest threat to peace and freedom worldwide. Iran’s leadership has threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, imprisoned our citizens, backed terrorist attacks and aggressively continues to seek nuclear weapons. The Obama administration’s policy of engagement has been a total failure, beginning with their lack of support for the Green Revolution in 2009. Round after round of half-hearted sanctions have done little to deter Iran’s nuclear development and aggressive behavior. As president, I will bring every diplomatic and economic effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And I’ll leave every option on the table, including the harshest sanction on the Iranian Central Bank, and military options if necessary. We cannot afford to eliminate any option that would stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Decker: There’s some speculation about the Reagan coalition of defense hawks, social conservatives and economic libertarians starting to fray. Is it important to keep this marriage together for Republicans to win national elections? How can the standard-bearer be a source of unity for the party?

Perry: The Reagan coalition is absolutely key to Republican success, and I agree that it has become strained in recent years. The reason is simple in my opinion: Grassroots Republicans feel betrayed and let down by many of their own leaders. Some of the men and women they sent to overhaul Washington just became part of the problem, spending too much money and growing the size of government. That’s why it is important for Republicans to nominate a conservative outsider, like me, because Washington will never change as long as the same establishment insiders remain in control.

Decker: The media has announced that the GOP primary is now a two-man race. This seems premature, especially given the musical chairs in the top positions of the field. Clearly, Republicans have not all decided on a favorite yet. You came out of the gates charging and led in most polls but have since been surpassed. What separates you from your competition, and what can you do to win back your early support this late in the game?

Perry: My opponents have spent a combined 63 years in Congress; I’ve never served a day in Washington in my life. I’ve been the chief executive of the nation’s second largest state and helped build America’s strongest economy. Since I became governor, Texas has gained over one million jobs while the rest of the nation lost two million jobs. While many of my opponents were supporting billions in earmarks in Congress, I signed 67 tax cuts worth $14 billion in savings. I’m the only governor since World War II to cut general revenue spending in my state, and our debt per capita is now the second lowest in the nation. So I’d say there are a lot of differences between me and my Washington and establishment opponents. My proven conservative record and vision set me apart as the best candidate. The more I can take my message directly to the people, the better we will do in these early states.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).

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