Rick Perry said earlier this month that he would bring a “wrecking ball” to reform Washington if elected, and his proposals introduced today bear out that he’s not suggesting small, incremental changes.
Included in Perry’s “Uproot and Overhaul Washington” plan, announced today during a speech in Bettendorf, Iowa, are proposals to slash congressional salaries in half and make being a House member or senator a part-time gig. Perry would also institute 18-year terms for Supreme Court justices, currently appointed for life. The terms would be staggered such that every two years, a justice’s term would expire.
“[T]here are those who believe, as I do, that Washington is too broken to be fixed by tinkering on the margins,” Perry said in his speech. “I do not believe Washington needs a new coat of paint; it needs a complete overhaul. We need to uproot, tear down, and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions.”
Perry also wants to cut congressional staff budgets, make it a criminal activity for congressional members to make stock trades on insider information they have access to, and — as debate-watchers may recall — eliminate the Departments of Commerce, Education, and Energy. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be privatized, and Perry would back legislation requiring all federal regulations would need to be renewed by a congressional vote periodically. On the budget front, Perry’s goals include instituting a Balanced Budget Amendment, passing a law mandating a two-thirds majority for tax hikes, and cutting congressional salaries in half (again) if there was no proposed long-term balanced budget. More details here.
“[T]his is the season for tearing down and rebuilding again, for uprooting the broken branches of government in Washington, and building a new government that is smaller and more humble, so America can be stronger and freer again,” Perry said.
Text of Gov. Perry’s Uproot and Overhaul Washington Speech
Nov. 15, 2011, Bettendorf, IA
*NOTE: Gov. Perry sometimes deviates from prepared remarks
Thank you. It is great to be here at Schebler in Bettendorf, Iowa.
I want to say a special thanks to Jim Anderson, your president, for opening your facility to us, and letting us meet the hardworking men and women of this plant. And I am especially delighted to be joined by the governor of a nearby Midwestern state, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
Governor Brownback not only has the perspective of a leader in America’s heartland, but was a United States Senator, where he had an up-close view of just how broken Washington is, and has witnessed Washington’s encroachment on the 10th Amendment from both perspectives. He shares my desire for fundamental reform in Washington, and I am delighted to be joined by him today here in Iowa.
The issue this election is not whether Washington is broken, but how we go about fixing it. There are two approaches, and even my own party is split.
There are some who want to tinker with the status quo. They want to work within the current system to achieve marginal change. Then there are those who believe, as I do, that Washington is too broken to be fixed by tinkering on the margins.
I do not believe Washington needs a new coat of paint, it needs a complete overhaul. We need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions.
We should apply the wisdom of Solomon to Washington. Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, says, “there is a time to plant and a time to uproot, there is a time to tear down and a time to build.”
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.
The Washington Insiders won’t address Beltway decay, they won’t try a totally new way, because they like things as they are.
The lobbyists make their living on protecting corporate loopholes and securing earmarks for the special interests they represent.
The status quo is good to the Washington Insiders. It’s good to the overpaid bureaucrats. It’s good for the power-players, who can trade favors to build fiefdoms of influence.
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.
In fact, the Washington metro area is now the most affluent metropolitan area in the country. That’s because all the lobbyists, contractors and overpaid czars and bureaucrats haven’t suffered one bit in the worst economy in 70 years. While Main Street’s windows have been boarded up, the cash continues to flow to Wall Street financiers and Beltway profiteers.
Let me ask you a question: 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?
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?
Our country’s foundation – the American people and the United States Constitution – is still strong.
It’s what the politicians and bureaucrats have built upon that foundation, on the backs of American taxpayers, that must be replaced and rebuilt.
Those who got us into this mess will not get us out. Those who increased the debt $4 trillion in three years cannot be trusted to bring in a new era of fiscal austerity. Those who made the economic crisis worse do not have the capacity to make it better.
In recent weeks our president has taken to pointing the finger of blame instead of taking responsibility. He has called us soft and lazy, and he has said Americans lack ambition and imagination.
Mr. President, Americans aren’t soft or lazy, and Americans do not lack ambition or imagination — Washington has failed us.
We need new leadership. We need a new builder. We need a Washington Outsider.
Unique to the Republican field, I have never been an establishment figure, have never served in Congress or part of an Administration, and have never been a paid lobbyist. My career has been that of a Washington Outsider.
Here is my plan to fix our three broken branches of government.
Part one of my plan is to reform the federal judiciary by ending life terms for unelected federal judges. 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.
Under my plan, future appointees to the federal bench will not receive a lifetime appointment.
Part two involves deconstructing the permanent political class in the legislative branch. Congress is out of touch because Congressmen are overpaid, over-staffed and away from home too much. Americans have had enough.
It’s time to create a part-time Congress where their pay is cut in half, their office budgets are cut in half, and their time in Washington is cut in half.
And if they do not submit a budget that balances by 2020, as my plan calls for, we should cut their pay in half again.
And when I take office, we will work to freeze congressional and agency salaries until the budget is balanced.
We have a lot of well-intentioned members of Congress. But they have become creatures of Washington. They get paid more than three times the average American Family, and they have doubled their own budgets in the last decade.
They are completely detached from the people, who are struggling to get by, and can’t vote to raise their own pay.
Some have even abused the public’s trust, trading on inside information to pad their stock portfolios. Congress has proven it can’t be trusted to watch our money, and now its clear they can’t be trusted with theirs’.
Any Congressman or Senator that uses their insider knowledge to profit in the stock market ought to be sent to jail – period.
And my plan makes that clear. But in reality, they shouldn’t wait until we have a new president, they ought to pass a law right now that criminalizes Insider Trading in Congress, no ifs, ands or buts.
We send members of Congress to look out for America, not enrich themselves. But too often, they are taken captive by the Washington culture.
That’s why we need a part-time Congress. I say send them home to live under the laws they pass among the people they represent.
Further, we must change the spending culture in Congress.
No more bailouts of bankers, no more earmarks for pet projects, and no more spending beyond our means.
I will bring spending down to 18 percent of GDP, the average amount of the last 50 years. And I will fight in every corner of this country for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
And two more points on spending: no longer will we prop up failed entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were at the heart of the economic collapse because of mortgage financing policies that gave false confidence to homebuyers who have now defaulted or are under water.
We will privatize Fannie and Freddie so politicians can no longer politicize them, and taxpayers will no longer be fleeced by them.
And lastly, we will put a permanent stop to federal funding of Planned Parenthood because our tax dollars should never be used in taking an innocent, unborn life.
The third part of my plan involves the dismantling and rebuilding of the permanent bureaucracy.
We will eliminate agencies that perform redundant functions. I will get rid of the Commerce Department, the Department of Education, and the Department of Energy.
We will downsize and re-task the EPA, so it no longer torments job creators or gives an official stamp to phony science.
We will end the TSA’s harassment of law-abiding travelers and return transportation security to the private sector.
And we will restructure the behemoth that has become the Department of Homeland Security.
We will perform a full audit of the Federal Government, and there will be no sacred cows, including wasteful spending at the Department of Defense, where every dollar we spend should support our warfighters around the world.
We will put a moratorium on every pending federal regulation, and order a full audit of the last five years of new regulations, repealing those that are not affordable, effective or that kill jobs.
And we will say to every bureaucrat except our military and law enforcement: no salary increases until the federal budget is balanced. And because a president must lead by example, we should cut his salary in half until the budget is balanced.
Washington is so broken, Americans will accept nothing less than a complete overhaul of the way business is done in America.
Americans know there is a season for everything under the sun. And this is the season for tearing down and rebuilding again, for uprooting the broken branches of government in Washington, and building a new government that is smaller and more humble, so America can be stronger and freer again.