A Better St. Louis. Powered by Journalism.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Print
  • Email

Texas Gov. Rick Perry leads crowd of conservatives blasting Washington, 'blue states'

In Nation

4:01 pm on Sat, 09.28.13

Updated at 4:57 pm on Sat, 09.28.13

Although a sizable chunk of its speaker list stayed in Washington, Saturday’s regional Conservative Political Action Conference kept its focus on its chief message of lower taxes, fewer regulations, a stronger military presence overseas -- and no Obamacare.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the regional Conservative Political Action Conference. Perry was one of the marquee speaks at the event in St. Charles.
Jason Rosenbaum | Beacon staff
Texas Gov. Rick Perry

That message was aimed at the nation’s capital, as well as the states.

“Stay on offense!” declared Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, the highest ranking state Republican addressing the hundreds attending CPAC’s day-long event in St. Charles.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., was among the members of Congress who cancelled their scheduled appearances to remain in the Capitol for the continued negotiations over the budget measure known as the “continuing resolution” that’s needed to prevent a federal-government shutdown as of midnight Monday.

Only Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, flew in from D.C. to deliver his remarks – garnering a standing ovation, particularly with his call for conservatives to stand firm against the federal health insurance program officially known as the Affordable Care Act. Most of the program’s insurance exchanges are scheduled to begin enrollment on Tuesday.

“Sitting back and doing nothing is not acceptable,” Lee declared.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Beacon
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah

CPAC’s morning emcee, conservative commentator Dana Loesch, appeared to reflect the mood when she criticized unnamed Lee colleagues – which included Blunt – who backed Senate voting procedures that resulted in blocking the efforts of Lee and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to delay a Senate vote that stripped out the U.S. House’s mandate that the budget measure repeal Obamacare.

Although Blunt made floor speeches last week highlighting his opposition to the health insurance program, some local Republican activists had said they planned to show their dissatisfaction with Blunt if he showed up at CPAC and took to the stage as scheduled. Some tweeted jabs when it was clear Blunt was staying in Washington

The crowd of Missouri Republicans in the U.S. House also cancelled their appearances, including Reps. Ann Wagner of Ballwin, Blaine Luetkemeyer of St. Elizabeth and Jason Smith of Salem.

ACU Chairman Al Cardenas told reporters that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had asked Blunt “to be a bridge with the House members" and stay in Washington. Cardenas also said House members were “just not allowed to leave Washington.”

“He called personally and I spoke to him,” Cardenas said of Blunt. “And I fully understand the magnitude of his responsibilities. And that’s the reason why he’s not here.”

Grover Norquist
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Beacon
Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, an anti-tax group, told reporters that he thought the House Republicans’ push Saturday for a one-year delay in Obamacare’s implementation might be able to snag a few Democratic votes – and possibly force the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate and President Barack Obama to go along. The delay could then be extended annually, Norquist said.

Brenda Talent
Jo Mannies
Brenda Talent

Brenda Talent, wife of former Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., and executive director of the St. Louis-based Show-Me Institute --  one of the CPAC sponsors -- drew hearty applause when she declared, "Three more years before the end of Barack Obama’s presidency."

Illinois, Missouri get special attention

Meanwhile, financially troubled Illinois was touted as the poster child for an overtaxed state – and an example of the Democrats’ economic views -- during a panel forum that compared the Land of Lincoln with states like Kansas and Texas that have cut taxes on income and businesses.

Illinois’ economy “is in a death spiral,” said panelist Ted Dabrowski with the free-market Illinois Policy Institute.

Patrick Ishmael, a policy analyst with the St. Louis-based Show-Me Institute – one of the conference’s sponsors – called on Missouri to revisit the effort to cut the state’s income tax, which failed earlier this year. “Do not allow Missouri to become like Detroit,” he said.

The repeated calls for eliminating state income taxes fit in with Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s role as a spokesman for a new national group – Americans for Economic Freedom – that is seeking to spread the low-tax discussion to all 50 states. (See the Beacon article on the new low-tax group.)

CPAC speakers, including Kinder, also called for states to curb union clout by adopting “right to work” legislation that prevent unions and employers from collecting dues from workers who are represented by a union, but decline to join it as a member.

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, who is running for re-election next year, used his speech to attack Missouri Democrats -- notably Gov. Jay Nixon and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.  Schweich referred to Koster, expected to run for governor in 2016, as "Benedict Arnold" because Koster is a former Republican who became a Democrat in 2007.

Perry, a possible candidate for president in 2016, reaffirmed on Saturday his effort to promote Texas’ lack of an income tax as a model that other states should follow.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks to the media about the General Assembly's failure to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a tax cut bill.

But Perry also joined other speakers in condemning Obama’s foreign policy. Perry jabbed at the administration’s threat of military action against Syria’s government because it is believed to have used chemical weapons against its own people in that country’s civil war.

Perry contended that Obama was all talk, and little action. Conservative commentator Oliver North, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, touched off cheers as he asserted that the president was “kowtowing to foreign leaders and apologizing for America.”

Todd Akin
Jo Mannies
Todd Akin

Among those dropping by the conference was former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood, who lost a bid for the U.S. Senate last year to incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill.  Akin said he came to "see old friends."

Early Saturday, about 20 protesters with labor and progressive groups showed up outside the convention hall to underscore their opposition to CPAC’s message.

“The economic agenda being pushed by CPAC has been devastating to working people,” said Lew Moye, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. “Instead of finding ways to help CEOs ship jobs away from our country, it is time to close unfair tax loopholes and hold corporations accountable to ensure good jobs for our community.”

Perry laments failure of tax cut override

During a media availability after his Saturday speech, Perry lamented -- as he had at his earlier event Friday -- the failure of the Missouri General Assembly to override Gov. Nixon’s veto of a bill cutting business and personal income taxes.

Perry became intertwined in the fight, including making an appearance at a St. Louis County rally for proponents of the override. He was also featured in advertisements trying to convince Missouri businesses to move to Texas.

“Unfortunately, you didn’t have enough members of the legislature that were willing to stand courageously with the citizens,” Perry said.

Perry told reporters the fight over the tax cut “furthers the conversation about blue state versus red state policies,” which has been his big political theme for weeks.

Labor and progressive activists targeted Gov. Rick Perry in protest outside CPAC convention hall.<br>
Photo by Cathy Sherwin
Labor and progressive activists targeted Gov. Rick Perry in protest outside CPAC convention hall.

“There are going to be businessmen and women who look at what the decision was made in Missouri and say, ‘You know what, I’m going to go somewhere where they really respect what I do that doesn’t want to overtax me, overregulate me or overlitigate me,” Perry said. “And they’re welcome to come to those states.”

Perry also opined on the possibility of a government shutdown, saying, “I don’t think anybody thinks shutting down the government is a good option.” But he went onto say that the reality is that either “Washington through their moves over the next few days will defund Obamacare or the American people will.”

“The American people will defund Obamacare, because it’s not going to work,” Perry said. “And then the states are going to have to come up with most likely the ways to try and implement this. And again, it goes back to the concept of why are we so focused as a country on solutions coming out of Washington, D.C., when they have been abject failures for the last five years in particular?”

An anti-Obama book on sale at a booth
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Beacon
An anti-Obama book on sale at a booth

Cardenas told reporters that there’s “no split on whether to defund Obamacare.” He echoed Norquist in observing that the only challenge “is what is the best strategy to follow.”

“Frankly, I think both sides are very helpful to the effort,” Cardenas said. “If we did not have the ‘take no prisoners approach’ to defund Obamacare, this wouldn’t have gotten much coverage from the media and all of you. The American people had not had a chance to take a second look at Obamacare.”

“Now that we understand the political balance in the Congress and the president’s veto power, we have to see what we can come up with,” he added. 

Brownback says "change is coming from the state"

Meanwhile, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback struck a similar chord as Perry. Brownback too was intertwined in Missouri’s tax cut fight. His aggressive tax cutting of income and business taxes was seen as a rationale by Missouri Republicans to cut taxes in the Show Me State.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback struck a similar chord as Perry, but said he's willing to call a moratorium on tax incentives that's sparked a
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Beacon
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback

He told reporters that “change is coming and change is coming from the states.”

“Ronald Reagan pushed to change welfare reform – did it for a long time,” Brownback said. “Didn’t get it done as a president. It wasn’t until Wisconsin and Michigan did welfare reform that the system had migrated to Washington.”

Like Perry, Brownback contended that there’s a “red state model” and “blue state model” on how to institute policy change. He described the “red state model” as “less government and family values,” while contending that the “blue state model” included “higher taxes and more government.”

“And one of these models is going to ultimately win,” Brownback said. “And the red state model, I would contend, leads to us being America again. The blue state model leads to a European model of America.”

Brownback also touched on a “border war” that’s been taking place in recent years between western Missouri and Kansas, which essentially involves the use of economic incentives to attract businesses to either state.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback talked to reporters about potentially ending the practice of using incentivizes to get businesses to relocate.

When asked whether he would be willing to call a “moratorium” on the two states offering tax credits for businesses to cross the state line, Brownback said: “I am.”

“I don’t like the idea of subsidizing businesses to locate in a state,” Brownback said. “I want to have a better business climate.”

While he said he would be willing to “start negotiating,” he added that he didn’t believe a governor could haggle with another state over tax credits. But he added “I’m willing to do so and offered that over a year ago.”

“I’m all for competition,” Brownback. “I think a better way to compete is on tax structure, and our taxes are much lower on the Kansas side. What you’re seeing happen in the area is the businesses that can get subsidies will play for them. But most small businesses can’t get that.”

When asked about the conservative anger over the continuing resolution fight, Brownback – a former member of the U.S. Senate – said, “I am encouraging everybody to do whatever they can to slow or stop Obamacare from being implemented."

He also said he didn’t expect the government to shut down or for Congress not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

“I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” Brownback said. “What has typically happened in the past on debt negotiation ceilings is this is when you get a leverage point to get something through. … I really believe that the folks in Senate leadership – especially on our side – are using this to try and get some leverage onto the president who doesn’t want to deal with the debt or deficit. And my hope that they’re going to get some progress.”

“It’s not going to be everything we want,” he added. “But we need to start doing this.”

No Comments

Join The Beacon

When you register with the Beacon, you can save your searches as news alerts, rsvp for events, manage your donations and receive news and updates from the Beacon team.

Register Now

Already a Member

Getting around the new site

Take a look at our tutorials to help you get the hang of the new site.

Most Discussed Articles By Beacon Members

Conference of American nuns will mull response to Vatican charges

In Nation

7:55 am on Fri, 08.03.12

Meeting in St. Louis next week, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will have its first opportunity as an assembled group to consider what to do after the Vatican issued a mandate for change this spring. It calls on the conference to reorganize and more strictly observe church teachings.

The 'free' Zoo

In Commentary

7:51 am on Tue, 05.22.12

When a family of four goes to the St. Louis Zoo, they can be forgiven for not knowing it will cost them $60, $72 if they park. If they can't pay, the alternative is to tell the kids they can't do what kids do at the zoo.

Featured Articles

House sends Boeing incentive bill to Nixon

In Economy

12:55 pm on Fri, 12.06.13

The Missouri House easily passed legislation aimed at attracting production of the 777x, a move that wraps up a legislative special session that saw little suspense and few surprises. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who has strongly supported the legislation.

Gandhi inspired Mandela on South Africa's 'Long Road to Freedom'

In World

10:10 am on Fri, 12.06.13

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, was a towering moral figure of the 20th century -- along with Mahatma Gandhi. It was no coincidence that Gandhi and Mandela, whose paths never crossed directly, both embarked on their campaigns against discrimination in South Africa. It was when Mandela won election as South Africa’s first black president that Gandhi's influence became apparent.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Encore: Dead before death

In Performing Arts

12:58 am on Fri, 12.06.13

For years , the author was certain he would never come to appreciate The Grateful Dead, let alone be a Deadhead. But little by little, he's come around. He talks about his conversion and relates a real evolution: by a musician who went on to play with the Schwag, a Dead cover band.

Featured Articles

Schlichter honored with St. Louis Award

In Region

4:57 pm on Tue, 12.03.13

The attorney has founded Arch Grants, which brings together nonprofit philanthropy and commercially viable opportunitiesto fund new business startups, and Mentor St. Louis, which finds adult mentors for elementary students in the St. Louis Public School System. He was the driving force behind the state's historic tax credit program.

BioGenerator sets open house to celebrate new digs for entrepreneurs-in-residence

In InnovationSTL

12:29 pm on Tue, 11.12.13

BioSTL's BioGenerator organization is on the move as its entrepreneurs-in-residence find a new home in 4,300 square feet of office and conference space in an old automobile factory. The blossoming program, which helps BioGenerator's portfolio companies to get off the ground, continues to pay dividends within the growing biotech community.

Ambassadors aim to soften rough landing for St. Louis immigrants

In InnovationSTL

6:34 am on Fri, 11.08.13

The St. Louis Mosaic Project is set to hold an orientation for its new ambassadors -- dozens of foreign and native-born volunteers who aim to help make the community a more welcoming place for those from other nations. Participants will be expected to do everything from visiting local restaurants serving international cuisine to having dinner with an immigrant to the area.

Recent Articles

More Articles

Innovation and entrepreneurial activity are on the rise in St. Louis, especially in bioscience, technology and alternative energy. The Beacon's InnovationSTL section focuses on the people who are part of this wave, what they're doing and how this is shaping our future. To many St. Louisans, this wave is not yet visible. InnovationSTL aims to change that. We welcome you to share your knowledge, learn more about this vibrant trend and discuss its impact.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Featured Articles

Featured Events:

Upcoming Events

View Full Calendar

More About The Beacon Home