Rick Perry Doesn't Want You To Think Texas Is Special

In a piece encouraging people to chill out about Rick Perry, Ed Kilgore makes a small but critical point:

Following an initial love-fest, Rick Perry is about to undergo the kind of heightened scrutiny that’s already afflicting Bachmann. The centerpiece of his campaign message, the Texas Economic Miracle, is already coming into question in the media, and will be challenged, however indirectly, by his GOP rivals. Eventually, someone will draw attention to the fact that if Perry’s low-tax, low-services, corporate-subsidizing policies really were an economic cure-all, similar conditions should have made states like Alabama and Mississippi world-beating dynamos years ago.

Ed has put his finger on the difference between Rick Perry's argument about why Texas has fared better than most states during the Great Recession, and the argument his critics are starting to make. Essentially, Perry is arguing that it doesn't really have anything in particular to do with Texas. Instead, it's the application of standard conservative economic dogma: low taxes, less regulation, and limits on lawsuits. Consequently, Perry will say, it can be applied to the country as a whole.

The counter-argument is that Texas' success comes from some things that are particular to Texas, and therefore can't be applied to the country. Paul Krugman explained some of them the other day: Texas has large oil and gas reserves, and prices for their plentiful natural resources have risen; they have lots of cheap land (and "surprisingly strict regulation of mortgage lending"), so the housing boom didn't affect them as much as it did other places; and they've seen huge population growth, which has helped boost their economy. You can't exactly duplicate these things on a national level, say by legislating that every state should discover oil.

This is, to say the least, somewhat ironic. Rick Perry is all Texas, from the top of his Stetson to the toes of his boots. But in order to become president, he'll have to persuade people that there's nothing special about the Lone Star State.