By Stacy Drake
After his announcement last weekend, Rick Perry’s record has come under considerable scrutiny from the media and the blogs. One of the most notable items of discussion has been about an executive order that Perry signed, mandating young girls to receive the HPV vaccine known as Gardasil. It was so controversial that the Texas State Legislature stepped in and repealed the law just weeks after Perry had pushed it through.
Tuesday evening, Michelle Malkin published a very detailed column about Perry’s Gardasil mandate. She wrote:
In February 2007, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a shocking executive order forcing every sixth-grade girl to submit to a three-jab regimen of the Gardasil vaccine. He also forced state health officials to make the vaccine available “free” to girls ages 9 to 18. The drug, promoted by manufacturer Merck as an effective shield against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital warts, as well as cervical cancer, had only been approved by the Food and Drug Administration eight months prior to Perry’s edict.
Gardasil’s wear-off time and long-term side effects have yet to be determined. “Serious questions” remain about its “overall effectiveness,” according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Even the chair of the federal panel that recommended Gardasil for children opposes mandating it as a condition of school enrollment. Young girls and boys are simply not at an increased risk of contracting HPV in the classroom the way they are at risk of contracting measles or other school-age communicable diseases.
Perry defenders pointed to a bogus “opt-out” provision in his mandate “to protect the right of parents to be the final authority on their children’s health care.” But requiring parents to seek the government’s permission to keep an untested drug out of their kids’ veins is a plain usurpation of their authority. Translation: Ask your bureaucratic overlord to determine if a Gardasil waiver is right for you.
Libertarians and social conservatives alike slammed Perry’s reckless disregard for parental rights and individual liberty. The Republican-dominated legislature also balked. In May 2007, both chambers passed bills overturning the governor’s unilaterally imposed health order.
Fast-forward five years. After announcing his 2012 presidential bid this weekend, Perry now admits he “didn’t do my research well enough” on the Gardasil vaccine before stuffing his bad medicine down Texans’ throats. On Monday, he added: “That particular issue is one that I readily stand up and say I made a mistake on. I listened to the legislature … and I agreed with their decision.”
Perry downplayed his underhanded maneuver as an aberrational “error,” and then — gobsmackingly — he spun the debacle as a display of his great character: “One of the things I do pride myself on, I listen. When the electorate says, ‘Hey, that’s not what we want to do,’ we backed up, took a look at what we did.”
Are these non-apology apologies enough to quell the concerns of voters looking for a presidential candidate who will provide a clear, unmistakable contrast to Barack Obama? Not by a long shot.
There is a ton of information in Malkin’s piece and she went to great lengths to link all of her research. I strongly recommend reading the entire column if you have not so already.
While Rick Perry’s executive order to mandate vaccines for children is raising eyebrows in the Republican party, I think it would serve us to take a look at what Governor Palin has said on the record about a state government taking such action.
Located within the mountain of emails that were released months ago from Governor Palin’s time in office, is a small quote from her that sums up her philosophy about the government’s role in such matters. She wrote this in response to an email from her staff in 2008 about chicken-pox immunization regulations:
“I would not propose govt mandating anything like shots for our kids.”
I never questioned for a moment whether or not Governor Palin would have done something akin to what Perry did in Texas with Gardasil. That’s the luxury of being a Palin supporter. We know her philosophy and we know she’s remained steady in her belief of limited government. We also know that she never governed for the benefit of any cronies.
The more I read about Rick Perry, the more I see in him what Governor Palin fought so hard against in Alaska. The Gardasil issue is just one instance in many that it appears Rick Perry put the interests of his financial backers above those of his constituents.
Timothy Carney wrote an eye-opening article for the Washington Examiner called “The cowboy corporatist rides to the rescue.” In it, he details some of the other recipients of Perry’s ‘assistance’ after donating money to his political operation. Carney writes:
In his next State of the State address, Perry pushed the Legislature to create the Texas Enterprise Fund, giving the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker the power to hand out multimillion-dollar grants to businesses seeking to relocate to or expand within the state. Two years later, Perry and the Legislature created another subsidy bank, called the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, using taxpayer money to invest in high-tech companies. Perry made government a venture capital fund.
Muckrakers at the Los Angeles Times and the Austin American Statesman have shown a strong correlation between Perry’s biggest campaign contributors and the money handled by these funds and Perry’s other public-private partnership. Almost half of Perry’s “mega-donors,” according to the Times, have received profitable favors from the Texas government. Poultry magnate Joe Sanderson, for instance, gave Perry’s campaign $165,000 and received $500,000 from the Texas Enterprise Fund to open a facility in Waco, the Times reports.
The Austin paper documents the unsavory case of $80,000 Perry donor David Nance winning a $4.5 million grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. A regional board had denied the grant to Nance’s Convergen LifeSciences, but Perry intervened and ushered the grant through.
And just as President Obama uses renewable energy as an excuse for steering taxpayer money to big business, Perry also loves green corporate welfare. Perry was a featured speaker at the national wind lobby’s 2008 conference, where he touted his 2005 law requiring Texans to purchase wind and solar energy — all in the name of “job creation” and business growth. If you force people to buy a product, of course the businesses selling that product will grow.
How the conservative establishment plans on selling this guy as a bridge between the Tea Party and the GOP establishment, through the duration of the primary campaign is beyond me. Rick Perry’s views on the role of government and corporate welfare fly in the face of Tea Party values. Padding one’s political piggy bank with the money of people and entities who expect a much larger return on their “investment” is an abuse of the system. The idea that taxpayers go into debt paying out large sums to these “investors” to keep elected officials in their seats of power, is not the sort of behavior you will find any Tea Party activist supporting.
Governor Palin’s history of service stands in direct contrast to most politicians, including Rick Perry’s. She went against the grain of the deep-rooted corruption in Alaska, and even in her own party. She was independent enough to call out those who were abusing the system, and taking a strong stand against them. The only “interests” that Governor Palin focused on, were those of her constituents. That includes respecting their personal liberty by not “mandating anything like shots” for their children.