He is the son of tenant farmers who worked the Texas plains, a former Air Force captain, state agriculture commissioner and three-term governor. In Texas history, no one held the state’s top office longer. James Richard Perry has always been conservative but started in politics as a Democrat . He is the only presidential candidate currently under indictment, pleading not guilty to charges of abuse of power and coercion and selling t-shirts with his mugshot via his political action committee. He has two different signatures and one busy road schedule in Iowa. Here is where he stands on 10 key issues.
Budget: Cap federal spending at 18 percent of GDP. Pass a Constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. Balance the budget within a decade.
While running for president in 2011, Perry’s long-term budget proposal included capping federal spending at 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product and passing a Constitutional Amendment requiring a balanced federal budget. In that 2011 proposal, Perry pledged to balance the U.S. budget by the year 2020.
Climate change and energy: Temperatures change naturally. Science has not proven that current changes are permanent or man-made.
On the campaign trail in 2011, Perry said that global warming is an unproven scientific theory and that climate change has existed since the earth was formed. The former governor has been an ardent opponent of Environmental Protection Agency regulations aimed at cutting carbon emissions and sued the agency on the issue in 2010. The Texan advocates for fewer restrictions on oil and gas drilling and has said that there is little proof that hydrofracking pollutes ground water.
Education: Close the Department of Education. Opposes any federal education standards.
Opposed to federal involvement in education policy, Perry would close the Department of Education. He has strongly criticized the Common Core education standards, supporting his state education system’s decision to drop out of the interstate group overseeing the program. As Texas governor, the conservative lawmaker chose not to apply for millions in the federal Race to the Top program because he believed it would impose too many federal mandates on his state. In his 2010 book, “Fed Up!” he criticized the No Child Left Behind program. In an official press release as governor, Perry indicated he was grateful for the funding increase that came from the program.
Entitlements: Social Security may not be Constitutional. Consider raising retirement age and lowering benefits for the wealthy. States should be allowed to opt out.
The three-term governor questions the legality of the Social Security program. In “Fed Up!” Perry argues that the program is a Ponzi scheme and that the 1937 Supreme Court was wrong to rule that it is Constitutional. To reform the program, the White House hopeful has said he is open to making changes for future recipients, including raising the retirement age and reducing benefits for the wealthy. Perry has also proposed partially privatizing the system by creating personal accounts for younger workers. The states-rights advocate would also allow each state the ability to opt out of Social Security and instead implement their own state or regional program.
Immigration: No immigration reform or path to citizenship until the border is secure. Allow undocumented students access to in-state tuition.
The Texas conservative opposes any path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants until the American border is verified as secure. He has stressed that any potential path to citizenship must require that those in the country illegally now get “in the back of the line” and receive no “special path” to citizenship. As governor, he signed a bill allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates. He has opposed the federal DREAM Act, which would give legal status to immigrants brought into the U.S. illegally as children.
Obamacare: Repeal it. Let states replace it.
Perry would like to repeal the Affordable Care Act and not offer any federal replacement. Instead, he proposes that states each determine how to address health care and health insurance. As governor of the Lone Star State, Perry rejected the Medicaid expansion offered by the Affordable Care Act and chose not to implement a state-run insurance exchange for Texas. In both cases, he argued that increased participation in the law would place burdensome mandates on the state.
Social Issues: Ban abortion after 20 weeks, with an exception for life of the mother. Require sonograms before allowing abortion. States should decide whether to allow gay marriage.
As governor, Perry signed a Texas law banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, allowing exceptions to protect the life of the mother or if the fetus suffers from a “severe abnormality.” The conservative politician believes life begins at conception and has said that he would ban all abortions, except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. He has supported tougher restrictions on abortion clinics and a Texas law requiring that women see a sonogram, hear the fetus’ heartbeat and wait a day before they can obtain an abortion.
Perry personally opposes gay marriage and argues that states should determine for themselves how to define marriage. Asked in April whether he would attend a hypothetical gay wedding, he answered, “probably.” On homosexuality, Perry has supported anti-sodomy laws. In his book, “Fed Up!” he disagreed with the landmark Supreme Court decision which ruled such laws unconstitutional.
Taxes: Overhaul income taxes by replacing current rates with a single flat tax of 20 percent.
In 2011, Perry released a tax reform plan that would replace the current sets of income tax rates with a single, flat income tax of 20 percent. The plan would allow a basic $12,500 deduction for each household member and keep deductions for mortgages and charitable giving intact.
Iran and Israel: Block or invalidate any nuclear deal with Iran. A two-state solution is not realistic now.
In an April foreign policy address at the Citadel in South Carolina, Perry announced that as president he would invalidate any nuclear deal the Obama administration reaches with Iran. The conservative politician believes the current deal would allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon in the future. Writing on Facebook, he argued that sanctions against Iran should not be lifted until Congress agrees.
Perry told Bloomberg News that in an ideal world he would like to see a two-state solution to tensions between Israel and Palestinians but that he does not think that is realistic now. He has expressed strong support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Iraq and Islamic State: Send U.S. ground troops to fight Islamic State. Increase airstrikes.
Perry wants to send American ground troops to fight Islamic State, telling CNN the U.S. military must be more actively engaged with allies in the battle. He has not indicated the numbers of troops he would send. Last year, Perry called for increased airstrikes against Islamic State and warned that, if left unchecked, the militant group could send soldiers across the U.S. border with Mexico.
Marina Lopes contributed to this story.