Give him points for boldness.
Rick Perry's new "Uproot and Overhaul Washington" plan, which the Texas governor unveiled in Iowa Tuesday, offers a radical restructuring of the federal government. And almost zero chance of ever happening.
Under the plan, the presidential hopeful proposes major reform to every branch of government.
He would cut Congress's pay in half, slash its budget, and make it part-time. He would end life-time federal judicial appointments. He would halt all pending federal regulations and audit all regulations passed since 2008 to see if they need to be repealed. He would push a balanced-budget amendment, privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and restructure and reform the Department of Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency.
And, of course, he would eliminate the departments of education, commerce, and – as he will doubtless never forget again – energy.
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"The issue this election is not whether Washington is broken, but how we go about fixing it," Perry told a crowd in Bettendorf, Iowa. "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 declined to elaborate on how he would go about implementing some of these proposals. For instance, he was particularly tough on Congress in his speech, noting that, "Congress is out of touch because Congressmen are overpaid, overstaffed, and away from home too much."
He said that "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 don't submit a balanced budget by 2020, he added, then he would cut their pay in half again.
While in theory this is possible, it's that same "out of touch" Congress that would need to vote to cut their pay, time, and budgets in order to make a legislative change.
Ending lifetime judicial appointments, on the other hand, would require a Constitutional amendment, passed by three-fourths of state legislatures.
Still, the main purpose of Perry's proposal seemed to be to stop people talking about his infamous debate flub from last week, where he expressed a desire to eliminate three federal agencies and then admitted he could only remember two, and to refocus on the issues – or at least on just how much he hates Washington.
"Americans know there is a season for everything under the sun," he told listeners. "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."
Even before the debate debacle, his poll numbers had been stuck in the low single digits, and he needs a major breakthrough to even have a chance at the nomination. Most national polls now put him in either fourth or fifth place, well behind Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain.
"Uproot and Overhaul Washington" lacks the pithiness of, say "9-9-9." But in terms of radical change, it trumps even Mr. Cain's plan. If nothing else, Perry may be grateful for the attention – that is not focused on that other thing ... What was it?