By Scott Braddock, TSN Austin Bureau Chief

Now that Gov. Perry has announced for the White House, the debate has quickly shifted to how much credit he can really claim for the Texas economy.  In short: He takes lots.  Others, the loudest being Democrats, say “not so fast.”

It’s worth pointing out that most economists will tell you the key ingredients for a strong economy here in the Great State are largely things that were in place long before Perry ascended to the Governor’s Mansion.  On its face, the story of the Texas economy, or the “Texas Miracle” as some have called it, seems very appealing in the midst of a national campaign that most experts expect to hinge on the economy and jobs.

Matt Glazer heads up the liberal “Progress Texas,” and says what we really have is a “Texas Mirage.”  He points out that a high number of the jobs created in Texas on Gov. Perry’s watch have been minimum wage jobs with little or no benefits.  He also says the restrictions on lawsuits in Texas don’t give much recourse to workers when they get hurt while doing those jobs.

Listen to Matt Glazer

GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak counters that it doesn’t matter which of the other 49 governor’s you ask, any of them would like to switch places with Texas economically.  He also rejects the argument from Democrats like Glenn W. Smith, who says President Obama’s economic stimulus amounted to a “Texas-sized bailout” for Perry and the GOP-led legislature.

“It’s perfectly reasonable that Texas taxpayers, who pay their taxes to Washington, would get that money back from the federal government in the form of the stimulus,” Mackowiak said.

Listen to Matt Mackowiak

The Houston Chronicle recently compiled a list of “reasons why the Texas economy is growing that have nothing to do with Rick Perry.“  Interestingly, one of the reasons they cite is “cheap immigrant labor,” which includes illegal immigrants mainly from Mexico.

As I’ve reported, Tea Party groups from across the state are upset with Perry for what they consider his lack of leadership on immigration legislation.  They’d like him to call lawmakers back to Austin for a second special session, specifically to address border security and illegal immigration.  That isn’t happening now that Perry is campaigning for president.

If they face each other in a general election next year, it’s hard to imagine President Obama attacking Perry on his immigration credentials.  Mr. Obama can’t do that for fear of alienating Latinos in his party he will need to win re-election.  If it’s going to get a real hearing before voters, it will likely be in the GOP primary.

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