Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Rick Perry's state of delusion

This is the same governor who also promised Texans lower utility rates if the markets were deregulated. The reason he cannot deliver on any of his grandiose schemes is because he consistently speaks of fantasy as if it was reality. Among the many hats he wears -- drugstore cowboy, malicious moron -- Rick Perry is also a carnival barker.

There weren't a whole lot of specific policy proposals in Gov. Rick Perry's State of the State address on Tuesday, but there was one nugget to give aspiring college students hope. "It's time for a bold, Texas-style solution to their challenges," Perry said with all the gusto of a commercial voiceover. He proposed a four-year tuition freeze and then proposed the coup de grace: Universities should create degrees that only cost $10,000 including textbooks. That would undoubtedly be good news for students.

That is, until you do some digging. Perry wasn't saying that universities should lower their tuition costs across the board. Instead, Perry wants schools to create a special type of degree, in addition to what they already offer.

Bargain rates, in other words, for what could easily become a bargain product.

In a Feb. 4 letter to state university presidents that got little attention, Perry outlined his ideal $10,000 product. He asked that the program "be scalable, so at least 10 percent of the degrees you produce use this approach." What would be "this approach?" In addition to accepting more Advanced Placement and dual credits, Perry asked that the new programs use "online and blended classes" and "no-frills campuses." So while a degree might still say University of Texas, the actual product would differ from the degrees for more economically advantaged students.

Of course we don't know what the final product would look like. But at first glance the proposal feels like offering a luxury vacation—where tourists stay at the Motel 6. And it was one of many proposals in the State of the State that looked better before the details emerged.

At this point he will say and do anything to make a good impression on any group of conservative mad-hatters. He's running for vice-president of the United States.

Update: From the Austin Statesman ...

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, head of the Senate Democrats: “We absolutely agree that we’re blessed to live in this state and its biggest asset are the people of Texas… The people in charge aren’t living up to what the people of Texas need.”

State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, chair of the House Democrats: “The Republicans got the reins in 2003… They’ve wrecked the car. They’ve put it in the ditch.”

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth: “Gov. Perry has been waking up in a very different reality than a lot of people in Texas… He would rather climb a tree to tell us a lie than stay on the ground and tell us the truth.”

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin: “My glasses are not rosy enough or thick enough to believe what I just heard… Rick Perry’s economic miracle is a deception. Now, it’s time for him to come clean.”

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio: “2011 is Rick Perry’s Madoff moment. The Ponzi scheme is up.”

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