Bill White on Rick Perry's Tax Attacks: “They'll Mislead People Anyway”

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On Tuesday, Bill White spoke at an event hosted by the Texas Tribune. During the course of the interview, White refused to pledge that he would cut taxes as Governor, or that he would not raise taxes as Governor. When Texas Tribune CEO noted that he may have handed Rick Perry ammo for the fall campaign, White shrugged his shoulders and said, “they'll mislead people anyway…”

Watch it for yourself here:

As Evan predicted, Rick Perry and his Perry-bot supporters immediately latched onto White's refusal to say whethere he would cut taxes or not raise taxes until he could “look under the hood” and look at what the budget was like. Many reporters, still trapped in a “gotcha journalism” mentality, quickly pounded away at their keyboards and repeated Rick Perry's attacks with glee.

Jason Embry with the Austin American-Statesman, however, did not. And wow, was it refreshing.

From his column in today's paper, titled, “White avoids tax promise, just as Perry did”:

Perry's campaign staff and his vast web of former staffers and advisers love to work themselves into a lather whenever an opponent gives them an opening for criticism. They hit the phones, call their favorite reporters and ask some variation of, “Can you believe he (or, in the primary, she) would say that? At a time like this?”


In 2002, a gubernatorial candidate declined to promise that he would resign if he signed a tax increase.

“Hypotheticals are fun, but the bottom line is people of the state of Texas want to hear the governor talk about how he's going to make the budget work, and that's what I've done over the course of this campaign.” That candidate was Rick Perry.


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

1 Comment

  1. Tough Break for Bill
    Bill White gave a realistic and honest answer here but the problem is Rick Perry will dodge this question over and over again and beat up on White for answering it.

    White seems like a nice guy and I assume he wanted to give Evan a straight answer. I also assume Evan would ask Perry the same question and even push him on it when he tried to dodge it. But will the Tribune ever get that interview?

    Furthermore, the 2002 quote above from Perry is him dodging the question, White answered it.

    This just makes Bill look bad. I hate to say it but maybe he should have dodged the question too.

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