RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
The many Republican governors who won this week's elections include the man we meet next. Rick Perry won a third term as governor of Texas. Boosted by oil and other industries, Texas did better than most states in the recession and now Governor Perry has published a book extolling state's rights.
Governor RICK PERRY (Republican, Texas): If, you know, you want to live in a state that has high taxes, high regulations - that is favorable towards smoking marijuana and gay marriage - then move to California.
INSKEEP: And if not, he says, try Texas. Perry's book, "Fed Up," critiques President Obama for getting in the way of his state.
Gov. PERRY: Well, we still believe in freedom in Texas, and when I say that, I'm talking about freedom from over-taxation, over-regulation, over-litigation. You know, there's a thousand-plus that add to the roles of the population of Texas every day. I mean just a huge migration coming into the state from places that do overtax and over-regulate, so that I think in a nutshell is the real difference that people see as Washington continues to be displaced, that one size fits all and trying to force us all into their image, if you will.
INSKEEP: What is the federal government preventing you from doing right now that you want to do?
Gov. PERRY: Well, for instance, they sent a very active EPA into Texas to take over our air permitting process - a permitting process, I might add, that for the last 16 years has helped clean up Texas air more than any other state in the nation, I think with the exception of Georgia. And at the same time we led the nation in the creation of jobs.
Steve, I thought that was the model. I mean this administration thinks somehow another they can do it better we can? I don't think so. And that's just one of a number - like forcing us all to buy health insurance from a Washington devised program is faulty on its face and I think unconstitutional as well.
INSKEEP: Oh, you're referring to the health care law which eventually will require just about everybody to buy health insurance most likely from a private company. Correct?
Gov. PERRY: Yes. And I think it's set up to fail. I can promise you. You let California and New Mexico and New York and Texas, Florida, compete against each another, they will come up with the best way to deliver health care.
Bobby Jindal, one of the brightest, most capable governors in the country...
Gov. PERRY: ...he'll come up with a health care delivery system that we will like, and we will go over and appropriate it from him and put it in place in Texas. And if some governor puts something in place that it failed, it doesn't killed the country.
INSKEEP: There was a fascinating issue of the Economist magazine, a little more than a year ago now, comparing California and Texas. California not doing so well, Texas seems to be doing a good deal better. And it was a very complimentary series of articles to Texas, but at the same time looked at some of the downsides in Texas, quite frankly, and this is a quote from one of the articles: Texas has the highest proportion of people lacking health insurance of all 50 states, the third highest poverty rate, the second highest imprisonment rate, and the lowest proportion of high school graduates. Do you see serious problems there, and then why do you think those are happening?
Gov. PERRY: Well, sure. We've got our challenges, but the fact is you can not addressed any of those in an appropriate way if you don't have the economy that allows for the creation of wealth and in turn pays for those programs. You must have an economy that allows people to keep more of which they keep and have a light touch on the taxes, the regulations if you're ever going to improve the skilled workforce.
INSKEEP: Would it be fair to say of Texas, look, this state just doesn't have the social safety net that other places have, but that's the way we approach things and on balance it's better because it's cheaper that way? Is that a fair statement?
Gov. PERRY: I don't know if it's a fair statement. I think Texans have chosen not to have huge government. We truly believe that charity and that our churches and that private insurance and giving people the choice, that's the freedom we cherish in the state of Texas.
INSKEEP: One other thing, Governor Perry. You're in a state that is on its way to becoming a majority and minority state. We reported not so long ago from Houston, which is already described as a majority/minority city...
Gov. PERRY: Mm-hmm.
INSKEEP: ...not just Hispanics but also a very large influx of Asians. What are the implications of that for you?
Gov. PERRY: Well, Texas is one of the most diverse states. For instance, we have a huge Muslim community in the state of Texas. The Aga Khan is a very dear friend of mine and the Ismaili faith is very substantial in the state of Texas, great businessmen and women, very good supporters of mine. So we are a incredibly diverse state. I sell it as part of our strength. Yeah, it's a challenge, but at the end of the day, Texas is this really interesting, diverse place.
INSKEEP: As a governor with a number of Muslim supporters, as you said, are you comfortable with the way that some people will talk about the problem with terrorism and broaden it out and not talk about terrorists so much as they talk about Muslims or Muslim countries being the fundamental problem?
Gov. PERRY: Well, look, the radicalization of Islam is of great concern. Islam of and by itself is one of the great religions, along with Christianity and Judaism. And one of the Democratic candidates for governors back during the primary, Farouk Shami - he owns a substantial company - is moving his businesses back into Texas, if you will. But he's a Palestinian.
And he and I were having a conversation about Ground Zero - you know, how do you deal with this? He said, well, it's pretty easy. He said build a synagogue, a temple and a church there and bring these people together. Again, maybe Texas is a model, not just economically but also diversity-wise from the standpoint of we have all of these great and different cultures, but at the end of the day they're Texans.
INSKEEP: Texas Governor Rick Perry is the author of the book "Fed Up." Governor, thanks very much.
Mr. PERRY: Steve, it's good to be with you. Godspeed.