After disastrous debate performances, capped off by an infamously indelible “oops” moment in which he forgot one of the three agencies of government he would seek to eliminate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s poll numbers have diminished, and a candidate that looked so formidable on paper and primed to be the conservative alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is fighting just to remain relevant in the 2012 conversation.
Fortunately for Perry, this election cycle has been volatile, and more than half of the voters surveyed in nearly every poll have not settled on a specific candidate.
In a week in which CBS’s 60 Minutes ran an expose on the influence peddling that goes on within the halls of Congress, based on Peter Schweizer’s book, Throw Them All Out, Perry immediately ran an online commercial that called for any member of Congress caught doing insider trading to be thrown in jail.
And on Tuesday in Iowa, Perry unveiled his plan to reform the three branches of government to reduce the role of each in the lives of Americans.
“I do not believe Washington needs a new coat of paint, it needs a complete overhaul,” Perry said. “We need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions.”
Perry cited Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, which says: “There is a time to plant and a time to uproot, there is a time to tear down and a time to build,” to call for a fundamental change in Washington.
“It is time to tear down the monuments to bureaucratic failure, and in their place build a smaller, more efficient federal government that puts the American people first,” Perry said. “The Washington Insiders won’t address Beltway decay, they won’t try a totally new way, because they like things as they are.”
Part one of Perry’s plan focuses on the judiciary.
“Too many federal judges rule with impunity from the bench, and those who legislate from the bench should not be entitled to lifetime abuse of their judicial authority,” Perry said.
To combat this, Perry, will seek to end lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court by instituting an 18-year term limit that would apply prospectively to future judges and not to current Supreme Court justices. It would also require a Constitutional Amendment.
The second part of Perry’s plan involves “deconstructing the permanent political class in the legislative branch.” The “permanent political class” is a term made famous by Sarah Palin months before she announced she would not run for the GOP nomination. Her ideas and rhetoric, though, have been adopted by candidates like Perry.
Echoing language that Palin often used in her speeches, Perry said that, “While the rest of America remains mired in the ruin caused by Washington’s out-of–touch, big government economic policies, Washington is doing fine.”
Perry, like Palin frequently did, also cited the fact that the “Washington metro area is now the most affluent metropolitan area in the country.”
“That’s because all the lobbyists, contractors and over-paid czars and bureaucrats haven’t suffered one bit in the worst economy in 70 years,” Perry said. “While Main Street’s windows have been boarded up, the cash continues to flow to Wall Street financiers and Beltway profiteers.”
Perry called for a part-time Congress, reducing the pay of elected representatives by half, cutting office budgets and time spent in Washington by half, and the criminalization of insider trading.
“Any Congressman or Senator that uses their insider knowledge to profit in the stock market ought to be sent to jail–period,” Perry said. “[Congress] ought to pass a law right now that criminalizes insider trading in Congress, no ifs, ands or buts.”
Perry also called for the freezing of “federal civilian hiring and salaries until the budget is balanced” and for “any bill that places a new, unfunded mandate on states, local communities, or schools” to be vetoed. Perry also would “work with Congress to pass legislation requiring a two-thirds majority to pass any increase in taxes.”
When it comes to the executive branch, Perry called for the dismantling of federal agencies such as the Departments of Commerce, Education, and, yes, Energy.
Perry also called for a restructuring of the Department of Homeland Security and the privatization of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA).
“We will end the TSA’s harassment of law-abiding travelers and return transportation security to the private sector.” Perry said, also adding that he would also “restructure the behemoth that has become the Department of Homeland Security.”
Perry ended his speech by asking the audience two questions:
“If you found out the house you built had crumbling walls, faulty wiring, and a leaky roof, would you call in the original incompetent builder to fix it?”
Then Perry asked, “And if it was fundamentally flawed, would you add on to the same faulty structure, or would you tear it down, and re-build again with a totally new crew?”
In answering his own questions, Perry said, “We need new leadership. We need a new builder. We need a Washington Outsider.”
Perry has often said that he would make Washington as inconsequential as he could in the lives of Americans and he reiterated that by saying in the question and answer session after his speech: “I’m not going to Washington DC to make one friend–I am going to represent you.”