In trying to pull his presidential campaign out of a nosedive, Gov. Rick Perry is escalating his attack on all things Washington. His latest proposals include making serving in Congress a part-time job, for half the current $174,000 salary, with members spending more time earning a living in their districts.

“It is 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,” Perry said in Iowa.

RickPerry also wants to put term limits on Congress, which seems a little strange coming from Texas’ longest-serving governor, ever — who is paid $150,000 a year. He also wants term limits for federal judges, including members of the U.S. Supreme Court, who currently have lifetime appointments. And, after CBS News questioned whether top congressional leaders have cashed in on insider information, Perry wants to make that a crime.


Perry challenged one leader — House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — to a debate on congressional ethics. Too busy, Pelosi said.

Perry didn’t challenge Republican House Speaker John Boehner, also among those mentioned by CBS. But Boehner was probably also too busy, with Congress trying to figure out how to cut spending and increase revenue without taking heat for raising taxes.

Perry’s complaints and proposals about ethics may be skating a bit close to thin ice. Some critics immediately charged  that Perry has his own tin ear on ethics.

Take,  for instance, the lobby business going to his former staff members. And pay-to-play questions about whether grants from his pet Texas Enterprise Fund and Emerging Technology Fund have been used as rewards for contributors to his campaign fund.

One thing Perry does have is campaign money. He’s using some of it for TV ads in Iowa and elsewhere, claiming that Democratic President Barack Obama said “that Americans are lazy.”

The ad starts with a clip of Obama saying “We’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades.”

“Can you believe that?” Perry exclaims. “That’s what our president thinks is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy? That’s pathetic.”

Obama was talking about attracting foreign investors to America, responding to a question from the head of Boeing about how such investors perceive America.

Obama said this country hasn’t been as vigorous as it should have been in advertising its attractions to others. “There are a lot of things that make foreign investors see the U.S. as a great opportunity — our stability, our openness, our innovative free-market culture,” Obama said. “But we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted — well, people will want to come here — and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America.”

Not quite the same as saying that “Americans are lazy,” as Perry charges.

If Perry doesn’t make a presidential ticket, his credibility rating in Texas could drop a lot.

Veteran Texas political journalist Dave McNeely can be contacted at