A Q&A With Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, speaks to supporters at a victory party after defeating Democrat Bill White on Nov. 2. Ben Sklar / Getty Images

On Nov. 15, Rick Perry—who was just reelected governor of Texas after a decade in office—will release Fed Up!, a book calling for a radically limited federal government. An early Tea Party supporter, Perry insisted last week that he wouldn’t run for president in 2012—even as he made the media rounds in New York. Regardless, his proposals provide the clearest preview to date of a Tea Party presidential platform. Edited excerpts from his conversation with NEWSWEEK’s Andrew Romano:

In the book, you call Social Security a “failure” that “we have been forced to accept for more than 70 years now.” Is it time for it to end?

I would suggest a legitimate conversation about letting the states keep their money and implement [their own pension] programs. The first step in finding the solutions is admitting we have a problem—and admitting that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

What about Medicare? Republicans in Washington are railing against Medicare cuts in the new Democratic health-care law—even though they’re exactly the kind of cuts they’ve been advocating for decades.

I would suggest that any Republican who is not going to work toward finding a solution to our budgetary problems ought to just go home and let somebody come who really is interested in not spending more dollars that we don’t have on programs that we don’t want.

Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush also wanted to slash spending, and yet government grew when they were in office. Can conservatives actually reverse the last 75 years of federal policy?

Sure. Absolutely they can. We just have to be principled and disciplined and learn how to say no. The idea that you can’t put the genie back in the bottle is not correct.

Many Tea Partiers want to repeal the 14th Amendment, which provides for birthright citizenship. Do you agree with them?

Is it being abused today? It may be. Does it rise to the level of having a constitutional prohibition? Probably not.

You’ve said you’ve got the best job in the country and that you have no interest in running for president.

Not going to run for president. Not going to be a vice presidential candidate. Not going to be in anybody’s cabinet. And I suspect I’m not going to be anybody’s ambassador either.

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