Take Perry’s position on the stimulus. In theory, he was vigorously opposed to the program. In practice, however, he was willing to collect. In 2009, he loudly rejected $555 million in federal unemployment aid. “The calls to take the (stimulus) money and sort out the consequences later are quite troubling to me,” he told The Houston Chronicle. Later, in a letter to President Obama, he highlighted his “vocal opposition” to the law, saying it “will burden future generations with unprecedented levels of debt.” In the same letter, however, Perry also agreed to take the stimulus funds, noting his promise to state residents that if a stimulus passed, he “would work to ensure that our citizens receive their fair share.” They got a bundle: In 2010, Perry relied on the $6 billion in federal stimulus funds he accepted to fill in big gaps in the state’s budget.
Indeed, despite his allegedly radical federalism, Perry has been more than happy to take—and seek out—federal handouts throughout his tenure in the governor’s mansion. In 2009, Cato Director of Tax Policy Studies Chris Edward noted that under Perry, Texas has been “an aggressive scavenger of federal grant dollars,” taking hundreds of millions in federal funds for drought assistance, homeland security, and local law enforcement. Does this sound like the record of an unusually anti-federal radical?