Election 2012: What Ross Perot Knew 20 Years Ago Could Have Saved America


Ross Perot's groundbreaking political infomercials could easily be broadcast today. "We're $4.1 trillion in debt. That's a staggering burden to place on our children. It's unconscionable," Perot said in his first infomercial in 1992, concluding, "We're not that dumb." 

Perot was correct. No, America was not that dumb. It was dumber. Now, it's even dumberer.

In Perot-speak, America was in "deep voodoo" in 1992, with $4.1 trillion in national debt, and a $360 billion budget deficit. I don't need a Perot chart to point out that the debt is now $16 trillion, with the current administration having easily eclipsed the entirety of Perot-era debt in less than four years.

There aren't four times more Americans today than there were in 1992. Nor has inflation increased by 300%. Perot received larger audience shares for his infomercials, which included chickens (a reference to the main industry in opponent Bill Clinton's home state of Arkansas), the voodoo pointer (a back-scratcher), and dozens of small cardboard charts.

Every four years, people rediscover Ross Perot. No fan of John McCain in 2008 during primary season, Perot gave a surprise endorsement to Mitt Romney in an unscheduled phone call to Newsweek. Perot's name could be in the Urban Dictionary under "politically incorrect." His reason for endorsing Romney? 

"When I went to the Naval Academy and met my first Mormons I asked why so many were excellent officers," Perot told Newsweek. "I learned it was because of their strong family unit."

This time around, Perot is ahead of the game, conducting his own guerrilla anti-debt campaign with USA Today op-eds and the Comeback America Initiative. Predictably, partisan outlets have tried to slam Perot's efforts. Richard Eskow wrote an anti-Perot screed in Huffington Post proving that Orwell's famous essay "Politics and the English Language," which I had decided was dated only a few weeks ago, is just as relevant as ever.

Perot's message is simple, direct, and hasn't changed since 1992. The government spends far too much, the people get too little in return, and we are mortgaging our own children's and grandchildren's future for no good reason. According to the chair of Perot's Comeback America Initiative, former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, the real U.S. debt burden isn't $16 trillion, it is $70 trillion, and the government is spending $10 million a minute. The solutions Walker and Perot suggest don't fit neatly into either party's narrative. Little wonder this article is the first national media article on Perot since the USA Today op-ed last month. Perot is still grass-roots and will always be that way.