Perry's comments in book now in spotlight

Aug. 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM
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AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Provocative statements Texas Gov. Rick Perry wrote in a book last year are now in the spotlight during his Republican presidential campaign run, observers say.

Since he entered the GOP presidential sweepstakes, more people are taking notice of Perry's musings in "Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington," including calling Social Security a "failure and an "illegal Ponzi scheme," and his questioning the constitutionality of federal laws concerning food safety, minimum wage, child labor bans and environmental protection and Medicare, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

The book's purpose, Perry wrote last year, was to spur a "new conversation about the proper role of government in our lives. Now, cynics will say that I decided to write this book because I seek higher office. They are wrong."

University of Texas law Professor Daniel Rodriguez said Perry's "libertarian, small-government views" play well in Texas and elsewhere, but questioned the popular governor's comments on Social Security.

"He is quite right to say the New Deal era reflected an enormous change in the relationship between the national government and citizens," Rodriguez said. "But to suggest Social Security is unconstitutional is a fringe view."

A campaign spokesman countered that Perry won't try to slash or repeal Social Security should he becomes president.

Perry believes there should be "a robust debate about entitlements, a debate about extending the retirement age for younger people and for other changes that will make Social Security and Medicare more stable and financially sound going forward," said campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan. "We need to protect benefits for those who are at or near retirement, so they don't have anything to worry about."

In his book, Perry said Americans "were snookered" when "during a fit of populist rage" they amended the Constitution to authorize collection of income tax and to call for direct election of U.S. senators.

Michael Greve, a scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told the Times Perry's outlook would appeal more to the Tea Party movement than business conservatives.

"State taxes and state regulation have exploded in the last three decades. I see the surface appeal of saying less power to Washington means smaller government, but it's not necessarily true," Greve said. "The Chamber of Commerce would rather have to deal with one federal regulation than regulations from 50 states."

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