Perry proposes cutting congressional pay in half

(Patrick Michels/Texas Independent)

Looking to steer his presidential campaign past a rough debate performance last week, Gov. Rick Perry unveiled a slew of major reform proposals to shrink the federal government — even beyond the three departments he famously announced he wanted to shutter last week.

Perry’s “Uproot and Overhaul Washington” plan riffs off some proposals he outlined in his book “Fed Up!” and would further limit the federal government by ending lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court, cut $100 billion in discretionary spending in the first year of his presidency, and “order an audit of every regulation passed since 2008.”

The plan, which Perry unveiled Monday night in Iowa, also includes eliminating the Department of Commerce, Department of Education and the Department of Energy.

But Perry saves the biggest shakeup for Congress, which he’d refashion into a “a part-time, Congress,” cutting lawmakers’ salaries in half. Should Congress fail to pass a “long-term balanced budget,” Perry would cut their pay in half again.

It’s a model Perry’s well familiar with, because Texas is one of just a handful of states whose legislatures meet every other year. While Texas’ way of doing business fits in nicely with his small-government talking points, it’s been criticized as outdated,

Harvey Tucker, a political science professor at Texas A&M University, has said the model is rooted in old attitudes that don’t apply any longer, a post-Reconstruction skepticism of top-down government influence.

Eye on Williamson examined the “citizen legislator myth” three years ago, gathering newspaper editorials and other opinion pieces that argued a 140-day session every two years is simply not enough time for legislators to be setting policy in the 15th largest economy in the world.

[I]n reality only those who are independently wealthy or whose job allows them the time off for the legislative session can afford to run for, and serve, in the legislature. While the lore of a part-time “citizen legislature” that meets every other year to blunt the effects of carpetbaggers makes a great tale, it is today little more than that.

Texas legislators’ $7,200 salaries are some of the lowest in the country. There’s also the concern that legislators’ jobs outside the Capitol — many are lawyers, or work in the insurance industry — lead to conflicts of interest when they get back to making law.

At the same time, Perry’s plan would crack down in insider trading by members of Congress, an issue he’s embraced in the days since a “60 Minutes” report on the practice last weekend.

Read Perry’s entire overhaul plan here:

Uproot and Overhaul Washington

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