Barbara Shelly

August 29, 2013

Missouri chamber loses big with Rick Perry invite

With Texas Gov. Rick Perry, has been running ads inviting Missouri businesses to take their jobs to Texas, in the Show-Me State on Thursday to speak at a state Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event, it’s time to tally up the winners and losers of the Texas-Missouri smackdown.

What an exchange.

A U.S. congressman from Texas invited Tuffy Gessling, Missouri’s sensitivity-deprived rodeo clown, to perform in the Lone Star State. And the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry invited Texas Gov. Rick Perry to speak in the Show-Me State, even though he has been running ads inviting Missouri businesses to take their jobs to Texas.

Make of that what you will. With Perry in Missouri Thursday to speak at a chamber-sponsored event in St. Louis, it’s time to tally up the winners and losers of the Texas-Missouri smackdown.

Losers first.

• The Missouri Chamber of Commerce. Big, big loser.

What kind of chamber of commerce cozies up with a guy who is openly trying to steal jobs within the chamber’s jurisdiction? Answer: A chamber of commerce more interested in pursuing an ideological and political agenda — income tax cuts — than it is in following its own mission statement, to “protect and advance Missouri business.” Inviting Perry to Missouri is like asking a fox into the chicken coup when you’ve sworn to protect the hens.

Chamber leaders want the state legislature to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the poorly drafted House Bill 253, which would crater the state’s budget through tax cuts and other measures. They think Perry, coming from a state with no income tax, will help their cause. Actually, he’s more likely to harm it. And the chamber’s disloyalty will be remembered for years.

• Rex Sinquefield and company.

The St. Louis billionaire’s Show-Me Institute is hosting a breakfast with the clever title, “Is It Time to Leave Kansas City?” And giving moral support to the Texas governor.

The institute’s Patrick Ishmael gave a curious justification for Perry’s poaching in an interview with Kansas City Star reporter Jason Hancock. “The notion that some politicians want Missourians to be offended when other states try to take our businesses is like the Chiefs being offended that the Raiders would come to town to win a football game,” he said.

Actually, it would be more like us being offended if somebody came to town trying to steal the Chiefs away. We wouldn’t take that well.

• Texas.

Perry’s foray into Missouri has given people occasion to note that, while his state leads the nation in job creation, many of those jobs don’t pay much. One in three Texas children and 16 percent of its seniors live in poverty. Texas’ high school graduation rate ranks 48th among the states, and its property tax rates are the nation’s 15th highest. And so on.

Now the winners.

• Jason Kander.

Missouri’s Democratic secretary of state was the first public official to openly criticize Perry’s visit, in the form of a humorous letter to the Texas governor.

Nixon jumped on the offensive soon after that, and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and others have since weighed in, but Kander was first.

• St. Louis radio station KTRS.

It was Missouri’s only media outlet to pull Perry’s ads once their malicious intent became clear. That principled stand won the station good will and even had the rare effect of getting Nixon to let loose some money in his campaign fund. The governor bought ads on the station explaining why Missouri businesses don’t want to move to Texas.

• Missouri.

The Perry poaching kerfuffle has kindled home-state pride and provided Nixon and others with a chance to remind people that Missouri is already a low-tax state. If the Texas governor’s venture into hostile territory has helped seal the doom of House Bill 253, then cheers to him.

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