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Public Papers - 1990 - July

Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Luncheon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


The President. Thank you, Elsie. For heaven's sakes, you talk about somebody that really gives of herself to help others, I think our national committeewoman, Elsie Hillman, fits that description to a tee. And I'll tell you, we Bushes love her, and we're very grateful to her. I want to salute Senator Arlen Specter, who came up with me on Air Force One today, and also Congressman Larry Coughlin, who was here -- said he had to go back. I don't see him right now. Both of them fantastic Republicans, leading in the Senate and in the House, and I'm delighted to be with them both. I mentioned Elsie Hillman, and I want to also say to Herb Barness, our new committeeman, we're proud of you, sir. And of course, my friend of longstanding, Anne Anstine, our State chairperson, chairwoman, who is doing a superb job -- and a tough, but terribly important job. And I salute them all, the party leadership. And I hope you'll forgive me if I single out one who is priority, particularly this year, and I'm talking about the person that should be our next Governor for Pennsylvania: Barbara Hafer. Please get in there and work hard for her.

And to Matt and to Senator Jubelirer and the leaders of the legislature, let me assure you I want to do whatever I can to help your party leadership and all of you in strengthening our numbers at that legislative level. I still believe in federalism. I still believe that the answers that are best for all America are those that are closest to the people. And that argues, then, not just for the election of a Governor but argues for the need to have a Republican control of the houses of both legislative bodies in this State and in many other States as well. So, please do your best after August and the campaign heats up to help our outstanding candidates that have been recruited this year.

You know, we live in a remarkable age. Isn't it wonderful how everywhere you look in the world you see centralized bureaucracies crumbling -- the removal of discredited, monolithic leadership and the inevitable rejection of the stagnant, tired dogma of the past.

Audience member. So, why are we funding death squads in El Salvador?

The President. Enough about the Democrats. [Laughter]

Audience member. Why are we funding death squads in El Salvador if monolithic leaderships are crumbling? We're paying million a day to fund death squads in El Salvador.

The Audience. Boo!

The President. May I continue here? It's a wonderful thing about our system. You have an elected democracy in El Salvador -- certifiably free elections -- and then you have people come here to express their opinion. I think it's a wonderful thing. However, I would like to have a little -- please -- I haven't even said anything yet, and I'm lying. [Laughter]

You know, it really is a wonderful deal. When you look around the world and see the move towards democracy and free elections and freedom, it is a wonderful thing. So, I used to get all uptight when I'd hear these little protests that would come up. And I'd say, no, these people feel strongly about it; let them have their say. And then a little politeness should prevail, and the guy that's up here speaking ought to be given his day in court. So, don't get all upset about it. I run into this all the time.

I'm sorry to hit and run, but two reasons. As Herb said, I'm off to an inspiring neighborhood action program. And then they did tell me that broccoli was on the menu, and I am staying with my position. [Laughter] You know I never change my position on anything. [Laughter]

It is easy to understand why the Republican Party held its very first national convention here in Philadelphia and why this was once the Nation's Capital. For three centuries now, Philadelphia has shown the world the true meaning in the measure of freedom. It was here that William Penn founded a colony -- considered an unusual, even impossible experiment back then -- where people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds could live peacefully together, free to work and worship as they chose. And here, just over a mile from where I stand, the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution were signed -- documents the free world has always revered, that now inspire people newly free, from Managua to Gdansk in Poland.

And those documents find meaning in the spirit of the people that sustain them. So, the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice becomes one of the most serious responsibilities facing any President. The Supreme Court must be guided by independent minds. Its members are appointed for life, largely to keep them above the flames of political passion. So, in my nomination of Judge David Souter for Senate confirmation, to fill the seat vacated by Justice William Brennan, there was no single issue, no litmus test or standard, dominating my decision to nominate. And I will add: There should be no litmus test in the process of confirmation. My sole priority was to appoint a Justice true to the life and the spirit of the Constitution, a priority that I'm confident will also guide the Congress in the confirmation process.

America has a longstanding tradition of judicial restraint, going all the way back to the convictions held by a Philadelphian named James Wilson, one of the first Justices of the American Supreme Court, whose writings spoke against adventurous pronouncements on policy by the Court. I believe I'm recommending an individual with a strong, incisive, independent devotion to interpreting the Constitution. He's a quiet man of enormous intellectual strength, a tough trial court judge with a great legal mind and an impartial quality that will serve the Court well. I've nominated this man, David Souter, because I believe his combination of education, experience, and integrity are second to none. And he's a man of great judgment, and I firmly believe that he will be a great Justice on our Supreme Court.

In that light, let me just say a word about the key role that our Attorney General, Dick Thornburgh, has played not only in this search but in working so hard for other things we all believe in. What an outstanding job he's doing for the Nation and, I would also say, for the people of Pennsylvania. And every once in a while, the flak gets pretty heavy down there. But I wanted you, his friends, to know that this President is proud of him, stands by him, and I think we have an outstanding Attorney General.

This city and State have always stood as a focal point of freedom, a center of intellectual, economic, and humanitarian development through three centuries of revolutionary ideas. Today, in this room, that spirit continues, carried on by those who believe in limited government and the accountability of leaders. You're showing the people of Pennsylvania that there is a Republican alternative, a new American independence from big government, from burgeoning bureaucracies -- free from these things -- from the invasive experiments of the big spenders.

There is room in the Republican Party for differences on some issues, but on principles we stand united, because there is work to be done. And we Republicans know what works. We believe that power has only one purpose -- to help people. We believe that America transcends adversity and finds her greatest strength in diversity. And we are, as we always have been, a nation of quiet strength, tolerance, faith, freedom. So, we seek this new American independence for the sake of limited government that spends within its means and a new agenda of unlimited empowerment for the individual.

Right now, the Congress and I are working hard to put America's fiscal house in order, to put the spending policies that brought us to this point behind us. For all of the appropriation bills that have passed the House, our Federal budget called for just under 8 billion. Well, Congress has appropriated over 2 billion. In fact, seven out of eight of those Democrat-controlled House appropriations bills have already surpassed the budget authority that we requested. As long as spending runs out of control in Congress, the American people will pay the price.

There's nothing compassionate about building ever-larger, ineffective, centralized bureaucracies and then adding to the deficit to pay for them. All of us, on both sides of the aisle, in all branches and levels of government, need to stop looking for new ways to spend the people's money and stop measuring success by dollars spent and bureaucracies built and start measuring our actions by how well they empower people. We have to stop asking, ``How much are we spending?'' and start asking, ``Is it working?'' And all of us, Republicans and Democrats, deserve and should demand real budget reform -- through enhanced rescission or a line-item veto or a balanced budget amendment -- some discipline on the process.

Last Tuesday only seven votes stood between victory and defeat in the House for that balanced budget amendment, an amendment that would have disciplined the executive branch and certainly disciplined the legislative branch. Well, this budget charade, these fiscal follies, must end. And I salute those Democrats in the leadership who are now working with me -- and several of them were in the Oval Office before I left to come up here -- trying to achieve a bipartisan agreement that we all can live with, that would be good for our country, good for everybody around the world who are affected by these ever-increasing deficits.

In the hope for a better future, let me tell you just a little about the recent past. We believe that nothing is more precious than America's children, and so, we put together child-care legislation to put choice in the hands of all families, whether low- or middle-income. We want to help families get the kind of child care they want, whether at home or at church or a synagogue or from a local child-care provider.

Well, the Senate passed a more restrictive child-care bill that takes choice out of the hands of parents, piles more redtape on providers, and builds a bigger day-care bureaucracy at double the cost of our bill -- from billion to billion. And then the House, deciding spending equals compassion, outdid the Senate by tripling my request to billion. And there you have a classic budget-busting bidding war -- another billion added to the deficit over the next 5 years.

But that wild spending habit is hard to break. Our emergency assistance to Panama and Nicaragua -- after 3 long months, our 0 million package had doubled in cost not with emergency aid but with over billion of new, unrequested, unrelated domestic spending. Our Educational Excellence Act -- designed to advance educational reform, reward achievement, and encourage accountability and choice -- started at a cost of 0 million, but increased to .4 billion as costly and unrelated changes were piled on, more than tripling my original request. And it's time we left the tradition of runaway spending behind.

In the budget negotiations now underway, I'm encouraged by the kind of cooperation that we're seeing from both sides of the aisle. I'm hopeful we can break this spending spiral, reach a real budget agreement, and bring about meaningful reform.

But there are clear differences between the parties, and when the voters understand those differences, I think our side wins. Do the voters want a party that rewards excellence in education and empowers local school boards and parents, or the Democrats who've empowered the Washington bureaucracy to limit parental control in the lives of their children? We say the Republicans. Do they want the empowerment of a million new private homeowners or the same old Democratic welfare handouts that stifle hope and devastate our cities? Again, we say the Republicans. And do they want the empowerment of choice in child care -- private centers, churches, consortiums, in homes -- or do they want government designed day-care centers to warehouse the kids, all run out of Washington? And the answer again is clear -- the Republicans.

So, here in Pennsylvania and across the country, we need Republican leadership that understands the value of limited government and the power of the people themselves. You've already got two Republican U.S. Senators who are, in my view, doing an outstanding job. And now, if you believe in this philosophy that I've tried to articulate here today, Pennsylvania needs a Republican Governor -- for education reform, for mass transit and better highways, and for better government, government that wouldn't take a 8 million surplus inherited from Dick Thornburgh's administration and turn it into a projected billion deficit. So, the bottom line: Pennsylvania needs Barbara Hafer, needs her bad.

And we need to keep the State senate in Republican hands under Bob Jubelirer's leadership, and we need State senators like Joe Rocks right here in Philadelphia and outstanding new Republican challengers here and across the State. And this year we have a chance to give Republican leadership back to the State house of representatives and make Matt Ryan the next speaker, and believe me, that would help in getting Pennsylvania under control.

Matt and John Perzel have been all over the State recruiting outstanding candidates. And the candidates for both houses are letting Pennsylvania know that there is an alternative to the invasive and destructive tax-and-spend policies of the past. Some may define empowerment as giving government more power to control the people, but we in the party of Lincoln understand that empowerment means individual freedom, and that government exists to serve.

Those who still struggle in this society want opportunity, not paternalism; a hand up, not a handout; not the servitude of welfare and public warehousing but jobs, private property, prosperity. Nobody wants to be dependent; they want a new declaration of independence.

So, keep fighting for it here in Philadelphia. Keep reminding the people of Pennsylvania that we stand for good government. They deserve nothing less.

Thank you for this wonderful support for our party, for our ticket. Thank you all. And may God bless you, and may God bless the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:32 p.m. in the Windham Ballroom at the Franklin Plaza Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Matthew Ryan and John Perzel, State representatives.

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