That Rick Perry retirement pension
On top of more important questions, it really will be interesting to see whether Rick Perry can live this one down. The Texas Tribune reported Friday that Perry is drawing his state retirement pension as well as his governor’s salary. Filings with the Federal Election Commission show that the combined incomes mean Perry gets an annual $240,000 from Texas citizens, rather than just $150,000 as governor. Perry filed the FEC report yesterday.
Admittedly, Perry is an empty suit anyway. The Texas governorship is historically among the weakest in the nation. The state constitution has yet to be updated, partly because the process of a state constitutional convention and ratifying a new constitution has not been feasible. The city of Austin is a canyon of lobbyists, as befits a governor who is basically a walking set of pressure points. But Perry’s public career of mouthing fiscal pieties about budget and austerity, etc., makes his double-dipping noteworthy even among other GOP corporate shills running for the White House as fiscal puritans. What makes it worse if possible is that Perry has gone gunning for exactly this kind of double-dipping among Texas state employees who make far less, while working far more, than he.*
As widely reported, Perry has also repeatedly attacked government workers in general. Like the other GOP candidates selected by themselves for the White House, he has also worked steadfastly to undermine pensions, pension funds, pension guarantees, medical benefits, benefits for seniors, and retirement protection in general. Simultaneously, and again like most other GOPers, he has been stalwart in protecting large companies’ treatment of employees, however egregious, along with management’s ability to offshore jobs and taxable assets, to evade contracts through bankruptcy and other measures, and to avoid prosecution for fraud and civil lawsuits for incompetence, waste and lack of due diligence.
Watching the GOP in the current election cycle was already a continuing indulgence in Schadenfreude. Anyone who cares about either mental health or human goodness has to be careful about witnessing too much of it. Pity the ‘political reporters’ who have to pretend that the bunk we’ve been hearing has any claim to credibility as public policy, any at all. But even in a field featuring Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, Newt Gringrich and Herman Cain, Perry’s performance takes the cake. No mean feat.
Predictably, the most recent disclosure means that Perry is being accused of hypocrisy. Once again, calling this kind of thing ‘hypocrisy’ is not political analysis. It is just an insult to hypocrites. Perry is drawing all he can from a long-suffering public while calling on more poorly paid public employees to draw less. He has stayed in office in Texas as long as possible while calling for many thousands of public employees to be fired. He is drawing a large pension for work he is no longer doing—if he ever was–while calling on most people, poorer than he, to tighten their belts. Above all, he himself is driving up the cost of government, directly, in first person, and by choice, while railing against government cost and government ‘spending’.
This is not hypocrisy. It is imposture. It is like railing against ‘regulation’ (mine safety) and ‘government spending’ (courts to prosecute child abusers). It is rapaciousness masquerading as fiscal prudence. It serves the same purpose this imposture always serves: It removes public assets and public resources from the public, and diverts them into the hands of a grasping few. Rick Perry is just the non plus ultra, an individual sterling example but by no means alone. Perry, in short, is not actually doing in private what he opposes in public. He is doing in private—grasping from the public—what he does in public.
As written before, this was the fiscal and monetary policy of the Bush administration, the centerpiece of the Bush years, almost unreported in the political press. It went so far as to include war as fiscal and monetary policy, it was and is reverse-Robin-Hood, and its consequences remain the mess for everyone else to clean up.
Gov. Perry’s income from the Texas state pension alone is now $7,698 before taxes, or $6,588 net, in retirement benefits–$92,376 per year gross, or an annual net income of $79,056.
For perspective, average per capita money income in the U.S. (previous twelve months, 2005-2009) is $27,041. From the U.S. census, median household income in 2009 was $50,221.
This information is yet another reason why the cardboard robber barons are always hot to trot to abolish the census.
*Full disclosure: my mother, who suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s, draws retirement as a longtime Texas state employee. Hers is considerably less than Perry’s, for considerably more work, far more worthwhile. Admittedly the comparison might be considered inexact, since she did not work for decades to sell out Texas resources and the public for political advancement.