Perry’s problem 2.0

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign reboot got off to a good start as he sat down with Chris Wallace over the weekend.

Sticking to the talking points without getting flustered, Perry appeared more confident, clearly trying to emphasize a positive message — rather than the fighter we’ve seen on stage at the debates.

But while he deserves positive marks on performance, he should lose points for originality. Parroting much of the same rhetoric about “over-regulation” and “job creators,” the core ideas in his economic plan are a retread of the Congressional Teapublican plans that a majority of Americans oppose. Perry has even thrown in a new round of birther rhetoric, to the disapproval of establishment Republicans like Karl Rove.

On the surface, it’s a curious strategy for a presidential candidate averaging about 10 percent in the polls. As recent surveys have also shown, Congress has only a 9 percent approval rating, with only 14 percent of Republicans approving of Congress’s job, according to Gallup. Since the Tea Party takeover of the House of Representatives, overall congressional approval has dropped 15 percent.

On the most important issue — the economy — only 20 percent of Americans currently believe congressional Republicans have a jobs plan, down 10 percent from November 2010.

Perry’s economic plan, “Cut, Balance and Grow,” mimics the “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan (a plan he publicly supported in July along with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley), which failed in Congress earlier this year. Like former President Bush and congressional Republicans, Perry calls for privatizing Social Security and voucherizing Medicare, with little impact on defense spending, despite overwhelming evidence that Americans would favor defense cuts ahead of cuts to either program.

Perry also parrots the Cantor/Boehner/Ryan/McConnell talking point rhetorically equating “job creators” with the wealthy. Like the Teapublicans, Perry accuses President Obama and Democrats of engaging in class warfare while favoring tax cuts that would further benefit the wealthiest Americans and further increase the already widening gap of income disparity, with no plans to address ways to close the gap in support of the middle class. Again, both plans ignore the voices of the 66 percent of Americans who want more fairness in income levels and the 69 percent who support taxing the wealthiest, favoring the shared sacrifice called for by Obama and congressional Democrats in order to give additional tax breaks to small businesses, and cut payroll taxes.

And just like congressional Republicans, Perry rails against “government jobs,” stressing the need to cut them, despite the fact that, according to the latest Pew report, 56 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of Americans overall support hiring teachers, police officers and firefighters — all government jobs.

Obviously, like “Cut, Cap and Balance,” “Cut, Cap and Grow” is largely symbolic, based on political ideology rather than sound policy, designed to appeal to the conservative Republican primary voter. 

The question is whether or not Perry’s Hail Mary pass will garner enough support quickly enough to save his candidacy in the GOP primary. Given that he’s sitting on a sizable war chest and has shown a willingness to make changes to his campaign, we shouldn’t count Perry out just yet.

Karen Finney is a political analyst for MSNBC and Democratic consultant.