DALLAS — Last week’s downgrade of the United States’ credit by Standard & Poor’s is a sign that “our nation is in trouble,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday in a speech in San Antonio to a national convention of 1,300 state legislators.

“Our fiscal house is built on a foundation of shifting sand,” Perry told the National Conference of State Legislators at the group’s annual convention.

Perry will announce Saturday his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president.

The speech was scheduled before speculation heated up last month about the 61-year-old governor’s potential presidential run. It highlighted Perry’s theme of an overreaching federal government interfering with the states, and his certainty that out-of-control federal spending must be curtailed — without tax increases — before the economy can recover.

The governor never mentioned President Obama in his 20-minute speech, but used the opportunity to denounce the administration’s fiscal policies.

“The federal government has tried to spend our way out of this economic spiral, which has only deepened the crisis while it deepens our debt,” he said.

“To hear S&P tell it, our nation’s credit rating wasn’t downgraded for the first time in history on a whim,” Perry said. “It was the culmination of a reckless culture that has refused to confront spending in Washington.”

Perry said it was important to notice what Standard & Poor’s said and did not say with the downgrade.

“They didn’t complain of spending cuts that were too heavy, as the Keynsians would have us believe,” Perry said. “They talked about a refusal to address debt in a significant way, and the concern that our debt-to-GDP ratio is unsustainable.

“Simply put, our country is in trouble.”

In the downgrade announcement on Aug. 5, Standard & Poor’s said the downgrade came because “further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process.”

The rating agency said it “takes no position on the mix of spending and revenue measures that Congress and the administration might conclude is appropriate for putting the U.S.’s finances on a sustainable footing.”

Perry said lower federal spending and looser regulations rather than more federal taxes would reduce the national deficit.

“Until Washington figures out the only true stimulus is more money in the hands of employers across all economic sectors, as well as a restrained bureaucracy that no longer over-reaches into the workplace, our national nightmare will continue,” he said.

Perry touted the economic growth in Texas despite what he called “our darkest hours” as a nation.

Texas has been the epicenter of job growth in the United States, he said, accounting for 40% of the net new jobs created over the past two years.

Perry credited his policies of low taxes and limited regulation for the pace of job creation in the state.

“These measures have helped make Texas a beacon for employers fleeing the sort of over-taxing, over-regulating, and over-litigating atmosphere that has taken hold in so many other states,” he said.

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