JACKSON, MISS. – As president, Rick Perry would not uphold spending cuts required if the congressional super committee fails to meet next week’s deadline for a plan to reduce federal spending by $1.2 trillion, the Republican presidential candidate said Thursday.
“Not at all,” Perry told reporters here when asked whether he would allow the draconian cuts – including $600 billion from the Pentagon -- to take place if he is in the White House in January, 2013. The Texas governor insists that his plan to lower taxes and reduce regulations will make the cuts unnecessary by stimulating the economy.
Perry decried the super committee process as an example of the “lack of leadership in Washington” and faulted President Obama for being “AWOL” on a foreign trip instead of working on the budget cuts.
“Instead of being in Hawaii, or Asia, or whether he thinks he is on this particular trip, he ought to be here, working on this budget issue,” Perry said of Obama, who is on a nine-day trip to Asia. “I think abrogating the responsibility of the presidency to a super committee of Congress was bad leadership to begin with.”
Perry’s other target of the day was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Texas governor’s formal challenge to the California Democrat to debate him Monday over his proposal to transform Congress into a part-time body, with pay and office budgets halved, inspired Pelosi to make a pointed joke at his expense.
“Monday I’m going to be in Portland in the morning, I’m going to be visiting some of our labs in California in the afternoon, that’s two…. I can’t remember what the third thing is,” Pelosi said, in a reference to Perry’s nationally televised brain freeze at a debate earlier this month.
Perry responded by doubling down on his attacks on Pelosi. He called on the House Democratic leader to release details of her stock market profits after a 60 Minutes report suggested Pelosi and her husband may have profited from stock transactions that were affected by her work as a legislator.
“I get it about why Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to debate me in public, because then she's going to have to explain why she profited from this insider trading information in the stock market,” Perry said at the media availability in Jackson. “But if she won’t explain her activities in a public setting, such as a debate, then I challenge her to turn over all that information to the Securities Exchange Commission or an independent prosecutor to determine whether she used insider information through her position in congress to make money off of her investments.”
The Texas governor has sought to capitalize on anti-Washington fervor in recent days. His campaign produced an ad after the 60 Minutes report saying that members of Congress who engaged in insider trading should be imprisoned, and has made outlawing the practice a key point in his government reform plan.
Perry himself was accused of insider trading in the late 1990s after he made nearly $40,000 on the purchase and subsequent sale of stock in Kinetic Concepts, Inc., a health technology company owned by top Perry donor James Leninger.
Asked about the event at the press conference, Perry said the SEC had investigated the stock sale and found no wrongdoing. His campaign then furnished a letter proving that the investigation was terminated in 1998 and no enforcement action recommended.
The rest of Perry’s day in Mississippi was spent in private fundraisers. Henry Barbour, nephew to the state’s powerful governor, accompanied Perry at his press conference and disputed reports that Perry’s fundraising has slowed dramatically since he raked in $17 million during his first quarter fundraising. Barbour dismissed talk of poor fundraising as “based on rumors.”
Barbour said his uncle, Gov. Haley Barbour, is unlikely to make an endorsement in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, and will focus instead on raising money for the eventual nominee.