Bettendorf, Iowa (CNN) - Casting Washington as a latter-day Roman Empire, bloated and "mired in ruin," Texas Gov. Rick Perry unveiled a drastic plan to overhaul the federal government Tuesday in a policy speech in Iowa.
"It is time to tear down the monuments to bureaucratic failure, and in their place build a smaller, more efficient federal government that puts the American people first," Perry said at a manufacturing facility in Bettendorf. "The Washington insiders won't address Beltway decay, they won't try a totally new way, because they like things as they are."
Perry said he would "uproot, tear down and rebuild" the three branches of government as president:
- He said he would eliminate the Commerce Department, the Department of Education and the Department of Energy along with restructuring the Department of Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Repeating a proposal first introduced in his book "Fed Up," Perry said he would install term limits on "unelected activist judges."
- Pointing to the part-time legislature in Texas, he proposed creating a "part-time Congress" by drastically slashing legislative salaries and reducing the amount of time members of the House and Senate are required to spend in Washington.
And, on the heels of a "60 Minutes" report about members of Congress using privileged information to cash in on stock trades, Perry said that "any congressman or senator that uses their insider knowledge to profit in the stock market ought to be sent to jail - period."
"It is time to tear down the monuments to bureaucratic failure, and in their place build a smaller, more efficient federal government that puts the American People first," Perry said, declaring himself the only true outsider in the Republican presidential field.
He was joined at the event by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, one of Perry's earliest backers in the presidential race.
The two conducted a town hall style meeting after the speech and fielded questions about the airliner industry, funding for the space program and a "personhood" amendment, defeated last week in Mississippi, that would have defined human life as beginning at conception.
Critics said the measure would have criminalized some forms of birth control.
Perry pledged to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Roe vs. Wade, and explained that states should be allowed to make their own decisions on the matter until a constitutional amendment banning the practice is passed.
A spokesman for Perry clarified after the speech that Perry supported the Mississippi personhood amendment.
Also following the speech, Iowa City resident Gary Fisher asked Perry exactly what steps he would take to shut down the Energy Department - the agency that now famously slipped his mind at a debate in Michigan last week.
Perry said he would do so by "basically defunding" the department.
Later Tuesday, Perry was set to attend a closed-door meeting with Iowa evangelical pastors in Des Moines.