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Rick Perry's new TV ad goes after Washington insiders
NEW YORK (AP) ' TITLE: "Politically Correct."
LENGTH: 30 seconds
AIRING: On national cable and Iowa broadcast and cable stations.
KEY IMAGES: Rick Perry, in a navy blue jacket and light blue shirt, speaks directly to the camera. "Washington is the capital of political correctness, where doublespeak reigns and the truth is frowned upon," the Texas governor says. "You can't say that Congressmen becoming lobbyists is a form of legal corruption. Or that we give aid money to countries who oppose America. Or that Washington insiders are bankrupting Social Security. You and I know it's true, but not politically correct."
ANALYSIS: Perry is stressing his credentials as a Washington outsider at a time when public opinion of government has plummeted.
The Republican presidential hopeful is also taking a dig at rival Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker whom polls show has surged into the lead in Iowa and elsewhere. Gingrich left Congress in 1999 and has built a lucrative consulting business advising health care companies and the federal mortgage giant Freddie Mac, among others.
Perry's anti-Washington message will probably resonate among many frustrated voters. But he swats at a number of different targets in this ad, making claims that aren't always accurate.
Perry's assertion that Washington doesn't brook dissent about foreign aid, Social Security or the so-called "revolving door" between Congress and influence peddling isn't borne out.
The practice of lawmakers stepping down only to return to Capitol Hill as lobbyists is frowned upon indeed ' not just by good-government groups but by Congress itself. Under the law, members of the House must wait one year after leaving office before engaging in lobbying activity. Senators face a two-year cooling off period, thanks in part to then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who worked to strengthen the laws restricting lobbying by former members of Congress during his brief time on Capitol Hill.
To be sure, there are plenty of loopholes.
Many former members of Congress advise clients on legislative matters during their cooling-off periods. The law simply precludes them from having direct contact with lawmakers during that time. And many former members do go on to become lobbyists. Others, like Gingrich, counsel clients without meeting the official definition of a "lobbyist".
Since joining the presidential field, Perry has criticized the practice of giving aid to countries not always allied with U.S. interests. He has said the foreign aid budget in a Perry administration would begin at "zero dollars" and countries that have received money in the past would have to justify why they deserve to have it continue.
But Perry is hardly the only such critic. A congressional panel Monday cleared a defense bill that would freeze some $700 million in assistance to Pakistan until the country comes up with a strategy to deal with improvised explosive devices.
The vast majority of U.S. foreign aid goes to four countries ' Israel, Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan ' with much smaller grants going to countries like Cuba for democracy building and Nigeria to help fight the spread of AIDS and other diseases. All told, foreign aid represents less than 2 percent of the federal budget.
Perry's claim about Social Security is puzzling. Earlier in the campaign, he was grilled for claiming that the federal retirement program is an unsustainable "Ponzi scheme." Now he has shifted tactics by suggesting that "Washington insiders" are making the program go broke.
The growing proportion of elderly Americans relative to current workers means the Social Security program as it exists today probably can't be sustained over the long term. But the problem is structural, not a result of a plot by Washington power brokers.