A Super PAC supporting Michele Bachmann’s campaign, Keep Conservatives United, threw one of the first on-air punches of the 2012 GOP primary this week, lighting into Rick Perry as a big spending governor who is not a “Tea Party guy.” Now the Perry camp is pushing back hard, condemning the South Carolina TV ad and releasing a detailed fact check disputing its claims.
“Gov. Perry is a proven fiscal conservative, having cut taxes, signed six balanced budgets, and led Texas to become America’s top job-creating state,” Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan told reporters. “Congresswoman Bachmann’s front-group ad is patently and provably false. Unlike Washington, the Texas budget is balanced, does not run deficits and limits spending, even as Texas added jobs and population in big numbers.”
Perry’s campaign took issue with two claims from the ad: that the Texas governor doubled state spending over his tenure and that the latest Texas budget was not balanced.
On the first count, they correctly note that the pro-Bachmann spot did not factor in inflation and population growth. They also argue that federal spending that the state legislature does not control shouldn’t be factored in, a standard that the very article the ad cites in their attack notes shows an overall spending reduction.
On the second count, things are a little more complicated. Perry’s campaign notes that this year’s budget, as per state law, was certified balanced and that this was done without raising taxes or dipping heavily into its Rainy Day Fund. But things are a little greyer beyond that: the Associated Press pointed out at the time that the legislature also used a bunch of accounting tricks, like rejiggering estimates for population growth and property values, to make the whole thing work — this means kicking some payments down the road.
Here’s the original Keep Conservatives United spot:
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.