http://www.chron.com/news/houston-t...s-on-Washington-while-opposing-it-2209553.php Perry relies on Washington while opposing it Presidential candidate Rick Perry often tells audiences on the campaign trail that he will work to "make Washington as inconsequential in your lives as I can." But what the long-serving Texas governor does not mention is that he has relied on government programs, government guarantees and government jobs his whole life. His campaign insists there is no contradiction. "He believes the federal government should stop telling people and states how to educate their children and mandating how they manage their health care, among other one-size-fits-all policies coming out of Washington," spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said in an email. "The federal government ought to focus on the few very important responsibilities they do have, like standing a military, which we are very proud of, and securing the border, which they have failed miserably at doing." A look at the record, however, suggests Perry's anti-Washington animus is more in spirit than actuality. Perry grew up on a cotton farm in Haskell County, where the perennially struggling economy - then and now - depends on federal crop subsidies. Between 1995 and 2006, Haskell County farmers received farm subsidy payments totaling $81,172,449, according to the Environmental Working Group. In his 2010 book, Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America from Washington, Perry fulminates against federal bureaucrats who distributed more than $245 billion in farm subsidies from 1995 to 2009. One of the recipients of that largesse was the governor himself, who farmed for a few years after a stint in the Air Force. According to his tax returns, Perry received at least $83,000 between 1987 and 1998, years when he was serving as an elected official. "My opponent is trying to scare farmers and ranchers by lying about my record," Perry said in 1990, campaigning against incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower. "He says I support eliminating our farm program payments. That's not true. I've participated in the program as a producer. My neighbors participate. I know what would happen to rural areas of Texas if these programs were discontinued. I do not support such an action." Changing point of view Twenty years later, Perry contends Washington has spent too much to "prop up" agricultural subsidies. "If Congress would just allow the market to work, American consumers would undoubtedly be much better off," he writes in Fed Up. After graduating from Paint Creek High School in 1968, Perry left the family farm for Texas A&M University, one of the nation's "land-grant institutions." The state's agricultural and mechanical university, which had a decisive influence on Perry, owes its existence to a 19th-century federal program that transferred federally controlled land to the states to establish and endow "land-grant" colleges. As a public university, A&M continues to rely on taxpayer monies, both state and federal. Graduating from A&M as a member of the Corps of Cadets in 1972, Perry accepted an Air Force commission. For the next five years, the federal government not only paid his salary and provided him a place to live but also allowed him to see the world as a pilot ferrying supplies in the Middle East and Europe. After his 1977 discharge, Perry went to work helping his father grow cotton. The Perrys, like their neighbors, relied on federal price supports set up to insulate growers against the vagaries of the weather and free-market uncertainties. Government salary Former Democratic Congressman Charlie Stenholm, who represented Perry's West Texas district for many years, agrees with him on subsidies. "The days of farm subsidization are over," he said last week. "If the rest of the world would eliminate theirs, I'd eliminate ours." That's about all the two men agree on these days. "Once he decided to run for statewide office (agriculture commissioner), Rick took off on a different tangent," Stenholm said. "He's not the same man I knew back then." By the time Perry sold his 40-acre farm in 1998, claiming a $17,693 loss on his federal income taxes for that year, Texas taxpayers had been paying his salary for nearly a decade. They continue to do so - $300 a month as a state representative in the early days, $150,000 a year as governor, in addition to numerous fringe benefits and a generous retirement package. Taxpayers also pay $10,000 a month, plus expenses, for the Perrys' rental home in West Austin while the Governor's Mansion is restored. "He has worked very hard during his time in government to make sure Texas is the best place to live, work and raise a family by applying fiscally conservative principles that have made Texas economically competitive and a leader in job creation," Cesinger said. The anti-Washington campaign rhetoric belies the fact that federal money consistently has made up close to a third of the state's budget during Perry's tenure in the governor's office, and will total about $54.4 billion for the next two years. In 2009, the governor and the Legislature used federal stimulus funds to fill most of a $3.3 billion hole in the state's budget, and the governor continues to call on Washington for disaster relief, most recently for last month's disastrous Central Texas wildfires. Texas also gets more federal money for defense and veterans affairs than any other state. "It's fascinating to watch him as governor taking as much federal money as he has, while bad-mouthing the federal government. It's hypocritical," said Stenholm, a conservative Blue Dog Democrat still bitter about the mid-decade redistricting scheme backed by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and supported by his erstwhile friend in the governor's office, a plan that ended up getting him beat. Help from Washington Perry is not the only presidential candidate whose anti-government words seem at odds with his deeds. Michele Bachmann worked as a lawyer for the Internal Revenue Service; a family farm in which she has an interest received nearly $260,000 in federal farm subsidies. Ron Paul, a flight surgeon in the Air Force after finishing medical school, has spent most of the past two decades in Congress. Newt Gingrich was a lecturer at two publicly funded universities before serving in Congress for two decades. "Why does anyone believe politicians who shake their fists against government while comfortably ensconced as government insiders?" Gregg Easterbook, writing in Washington Monthly, asked recently. He suggested that the answer lies with the voter, alluding to a 2008 Cornell Research Poll that found that 57 percent of Americans denied they ever had benefited from any "government social program." Asked specifically whether they ever had taken out a student loan or relied on a mortgage-interest deduction, Social Security or other government social programs, almost every respondent admitted they had. "It's almost inevitable that there are going to be inconsistencies in what candidates say and what they do once in office," said Allan Saxe, an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington. "It's called being human."