Thursday, September 1, 2011

For $500,000! Rick Perry Backs AT&T Merger Plan With T-Mobile

By Gary P Jackson

More crony capitalism from Rick Perry, the finest Texas Governor money can buy. We've talked about the pay-for-play deal Perry and his people had with Merck with Gardasil, but this is a lot bigger and has deeper ramifications.

Perry wrote a letter endorsing the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. Nothing inappropriate in that, until you learn AT&T's PAC has given Perry over $500,000 since he has been in office, according to the Texas Ethics Commission.

From the National Journal:

In the May 25 letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and the other commissioners, the GOP presidential candidate urged approval of the controversial megadeal on behalf of a home-state company. AT&T is headquartered in Dallas. T-Mobile is owned by a German telecommunications company.

"I believe that this merger will continue to provide for great consumer choice, offer a wide range of service options, and spur continued innovation," Perry wrote. "The future rests in wireless broadband, and the federal government's swift approval of the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would send a strong signal to employers, consumers, and states that our federal government is serious about meeting the communication and technology needs of Texans and all Americans." Perry cited "the commitment of at least an additional $8 billion in private investment over seven years as a result of this merger" as a reason to support the deal.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department sued to block the merger. "We believe the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would result in tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices, and lower-quality products for their mobile wireless services," Deputy Attorney General James Cole said.

Over the past decade, AT&T’s political action committee has given Perry more than $500,000, according to the Texas Ethics Commission’s records. Those contributions already have Democrats on the offensive.

"This is just one more example of Rick Perry’s pay-to-play network that represents the same old type of lobbyist-first politics. He might try to pretend to be some outsider, but as his record continues to come to light, the American people will see right through his facade," said Ty Matsdorf, spokesman for American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic opposition research organization.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner defended his boss's actions.

"AT&T is a highly regarded Texas-based company, creating thousands of good American jobs and providing critical communications services worldwide," Miner said in a statement to National Journal. "Gov. Perry believes the combination of the two telecom companies will be good for consumers, good for technology innovation, and good for American job creation."

Read more here.

Perry, as always spins this as "aw shucks, I was just tryin' to create some jobs." Yeah, jobs for his accountants.

This isn't an isolated incident. This is how Perry does business.

Glenn Garvin looks at Perry's record and compares him to Obama, in the way both try to use government to pick winners and losers:

The unfortunate fact is that Perry and Obama have a lot more in common than either would like to admit. They both think they’re smarter than the laws of economics and that they make wiser choices than markets do. And they both see taxpayer money as a giant trough for feeding their political pals. Perry is actually truthful about this, sort of. "I am a pro-business governor," he told Time magazine last week. "I will be a pro-business president." What he means is that he’s pro-certain-businesses, the ones run by his friends.

As governor of Texas, Perry controls hundreds of millions of dollars in state handouts to corporations for "job creation and economic development." Not surprisingly, it turns out that the funds are especially good at developing one particular sector of the Texas economy: Perry’s campaign funds.

The Texas Observer revealed earlier this year that of the 55 companies that have dipped into the $345 million Texas Enterprise Fund controlled by Perry, 20 have been have donated money either directly to Perry’s political campaign funds or to the Republican Governors Association, his Washington posse.

We’re not talking chump change: The Observer counted donations over $2 million. Meanwhile, The Dallas Morning News looked into the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, another of the taxpayer teats under Perry’s control, and found eight companies that received $16 million in subsidies who, totally coincidentally, donated $1.4 million to the governor’s campaign.

And Perry is not content to merely pick taxpayer pockets on behalf of his corporate friends; he’ll resort to strong-arm robbery when necessary. The biggest controversy of his decade in the governor’s mansion was an arrogant attempted land-grab called the Trans-Texas Corridor, a $185 billion system of super-highways for which the state would have had to acquire as much as a thousand square miles of territory.

To deal with troublesome property owners who didn’t want to sell, Perry persuaded the legislature to pass a new form of eminent domain known as "quick-claim," in which the state could have seized any land it wanted with just 90 days of notice, then "negotiate" the price later. The super-highway plan died in 2010 only because the federal government showed more concern for the rights of bugs and bunnies than Perry did for the property rights of his constituents, pulling the plug on its chunk of the budget out of environmental concerns.

President Obama’s enemies often refer to him as a socialist. But what he really has been practicing in Washington the past two and a half years is crony capitalism, using programs like TARP and the stimulus package to funnel trillions of dollars in swag to politically connected companies. The result has been an economy that barely rises to the level of narcolepsy in its best moments. Perry has been doing the same thing with a smaller budget in Austin, though the damage hasn’t been as great because he had the foresight to run for governor in a state floating on a lake of oil.

The only change we’ll get in Washington if he’s elected is to the names of the recipients of the corporate welfare checks.

For those not familiar with the Trans-Texas Corridor, that would have been one of the largest thefts of private land in history. Texans were angered like no time in recent memory. It was stopped, for now. The result of this fiasco saw Perry draw no less that 4 primary challengers in 2006, and several hard hitting independent challengers in the general election. Had one of those indies dropped out and threw their support to the other, Perry wouldn't be Governor today. As it was, Perry won re-election with 39% of the vote.

The TTC deserves more discussion and that will come. Meanwhile, for those that want more information, check out Corridor Watch's website here.

This is corruption, pure and simple. Perry talks a good line and is good at pretending to be a Conservative, but he is far from it. Between his pay-for-play schemes, and highly questionable real estate deals, Rick Perry has become quite wealthy while never really working at anything but a government job.

I don't care how you look at it, Rick Perry isn't much of an upgrade from Barack Obama. We can do so much better than this guy. We have to do much better than this guy. The nation can't survive much more corruption in public office, and Rick Perry is nothing more than more of the same.

America deserves better.

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