Rick Perry Offers Three Lies at CPAC

Rick Perry Offers Three Lies at CPAC March 2, 2015

Rick Perry joined most of the other unofficial Republican presidential candidates at CPAC to convince the crowd that they’re the most like the fictitious Ronald Reagan that exists in the audience’s head and he told three big whoppers during his talk. The first one:

This regulatory cost hits American families for about $15,000 a year. That’s the highest cost on your budget than anything other than housing.

Factcheck points out where this false statistic comes from:

Perry’s dubious figure comes from an admitted “back-of-the-envelope” calculation from a report by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is “dedicated to advancing the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty.” In other words, it is a staunch opponent of government over-regulation.

In the report, “Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State,” author Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. calculates the 2013 cost of federal regulatory compliance at nearly $1.9 trillion. To arrive at the cost-per-family figure, that $1.9 trillion was simply divided by the number of American households. By that math, Crews argues, “each U.S. household ‘pays’ $14,974 annually in a hidden regulatory tax report.” And, the report notes, that that figure is “higher than every annual household budgetary expenditure item except housing.”

Crews admits in the report that his methods are “not scientific” but argues that “the comparison is a useful back-of-the-envelope way of reflecting on the magnitude of regulatory costs.”

But a deeper look into the $1.9 trillion figure — contained in another report “Tip of the Costberg“ — shows that the figure is based on the Office of Management and Budget’s annual reports to Congress on the benefits and costs of federal regulation. The problem is that Crews focused on the “costs” and ignored the “benefits” listed in those reports. The OMB typically makes the case that benefits exceed costs, as you can see in its latest report.

As our fact-checking colleague Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post noted when the same statistic was cited by Rep. Bob Goodlatte last month, “Seat belts are a regulation, but they also result in fewer deaths, which is presumably a benefit. Higher fuel-economy standards raise the initial cost of a car, but also result in savings on gasoline over time.”

And the second one:

In my 14 years as governor, we helped to create almost one third of all the private sector jobs in America. In the last seven years, we created 1.4 million jobs. You take those jobs out of the equation, minus those jobs created in Texas, this country lost a quarter of a million jobs.

And the reason why this is false:

But Perry’s second claim — that in the last seven years Texas created 1.4 million jobs while the rest of the country lost 250,000 — isn’t accurate at all, using those same nonfarm payroll numbers. Instead, those numbers show that Texas created 1.3 million jobs and the rest of the country, without Texas, created 987,900 jobs.

In order to claim that Texas created more than a million jobs while the rest of the country lost jobs, Perry has to switch from the nonfarm payroll data he used for his first statistic to the Current Population Survey, which is a monthly survey of 60,000 households that’s used to calculate the unemployment rate. (It’s not as easy to find those employment numbers for both Texas and the nation on BLS’s website as it is to pull up the nonfarm payroll data.)

The household survey counts as “employed” people who aren’t on a payroll, such as unpaid family workers, the self-employed and day laborers. It also includes agricultural workers and those who are absent from work and not being paid.

Perry is mixing and matching data sets here, using the measure that makes Texas’ record look more impressive. But if he’s talking about job creation – and using the standard measuring stick he himself cited in nearly the same breath — then it’s incorrect to say the rest of the country outside Texas lost jobs.

And the third one…shit, I forgot the third one. Oops.

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