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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks to the Ohio Association of Broadcasters in Columbus, Ohio


Thank you, Fred, very much; all of you, Gene and Dale and Tom, for the greeting out here. Good afternoon. I'm pleased to be back for my third appearance before -- something about the Ohio Broadcasters.

I have a few remarks to make on a subject, but before that I want to comment just on the events that are concerning our country, building a little on comments I made earlier in a statement to the Nation about the news out of Los Angeles.

No one watching the television coverage of the violence yesterday afternoon and evening could have any reaction other than revulsion and pain. Mob brutality, the total loss of respect for human life was sickeningly sad. The frustration all of us felt seeing helpless victims pulled from vehicles and assaulted, it was hard not to turn our eyes away. But we must not turn our eyes away. We must keep on working to create a climate of understanding and tolerance and condemn a climate of bigotry and fear.

Last night was tragic for our country. It was tragic for the city of Los Angeles, for the people of east L.A. But there were small acts in all of this ugliness that give us hope: The citizens who ignored the mob, those who helped get the battered victims out of the area. There were people who spent the night in the churches. Many were seeking guidance in the wake of the unfolding chaos in the streets, praying that man's gentler instincts be revealed in the hearts of people driven by hate.

You say, ``What can we do?'' Well, before leaving Washington I spoke to Governor Wilson; I spoke to Mayor Tom Bradley; I spoke to Ben Hooks and some others on this problem. I also gave this statement to the Nation regarding our plans at the Federal Government level regarding the court case. We have instigated an investigation under civil rights protection. We will do what we can from the Federal Government to help those small business people that have been just wiped out by wanton destruction. I will keep telling the country that we must stand up against lawlessness and crime wherever it takes place. Regrettably, what is happening in the city or did happen last night was purely criminal. It was outrageous, what happened. We are all sickened by what we saw.

On the larger issues, I've thought a lot about this. And say what you want, but it is important at a time like this to really talk about some old-fashioned values like respect for the others' rights, respect for property rights; manifest that respect in our actions as well as our words. We must make a compact with each other that we will not tolerate racism and bigotry and anti-Semitism and hate of any kind, anywhere, any time; not over the dinner table, not in the board room, not in the playground, nowhere.

We must condemn violence. I make no apology for the rule of law or the requirement to live by it. And yes, in some places in America there is, regrettably, a cycle of poverty and despair. But if the system perpetuates this cycle, then we've got to change the system. We simply cannot condone violence as a way of changing the system.

So we ought to change. We ought to try hard, change the status quo. We've got to do it peacefully, and we've got to do it thoughtfully. I am very hopeful that calm can be restored to this very important part of our country and that good will will prevail over the hatred that we've seen in the streets in the last few hours.

I am now switching off to what I came here to talk to you all about. Let me just first say a word about this city and about the great man who gave his name to this city. Columbus dared to explore far beyond the horizons of his continent, and he discovered a new world. You talk about the vision thing, well, he had it.

Speaking of vision, we wouldn't be attending the broadcasters convention had it not been for the daring of scientific prodigies like DeForest and Marconi. We should keep in mind just how new this thing called broadcasting is. The same year that my dad was born right here in Columbus, Ohio, just a few blocks away on East Broad Street, Marconi invented radio. It either makes me very old or makes radio very young; I can't figure out which that is. [Laughter] But I'm sure there are many here who can remember when the first TV broadcast went on the air. I can remember the first TV set I had, a great big square-looking box with a little tiny yellow-colored window. It was made by Hoffman. I don't think it proved to be too successful because I don't think they're making TV sets anymore. But it wasn't that long ago.

Telecommunications is still in its infancy. I think that it's taking big steps now. As you look over the horizon at the future of this country in technology, the steps are going to be enormous. There's something bright and new in human history.

In addition to all this new technology, I think we can look at a whole other area and talk about the worldwide spread of freedom and democracy. Around the globe, nations are joining a movement in which the United States is the great pioneer. We are, never forget it, the unsurpassed leader. And for those who will have you believe that this country is in a state of decline, travel abroad and see the respect with which this country is held.

We've got to protect our freedoms. We've got to trust people with their freedoms. These form the core of our crusade to make this country stronger. A free economy will be a strong economy, and it will create more good jobs. We'll keep society healthy if we keep our family first, put family first. And by keeping our defenses strong, we're going to keep the peace.

I'm working hard to open world markets. Open trade will create more and better jobs for this country. It offers our consumers lower prices and more choices. Expanding trade is one of five programs for this country's future that I view as really top priorities.

We're working as well to revolutionize -- this is the second one -- to revolutionize, literally to reinvent our schools. Parents are leading the way. In community after community, they are standing up to the bureaucratic establishment; they're asserting their rights in their children's education. I salute Governor Voinovich, whose wife is with us here today, for the lead that Ohio is taking in achieving the goals of America 2000, our literally revolutionary education program.

We're working for fundamental reform of Government, including a balanced budget amendment. Now it has strong support on both sides of the aisle. Clearly, it has to be phased in. But there's a change in the country; people are saying we've got to do better. I support strongly term limits to make Congress much more accountable. I think the time has come for that. I also believe, and have submitted suggestions to the Congress for this rather revolutionary idea, that Congress ought to live by the laws that it passes, laws that affect others. It is no longer right to be separate.

The next category is, we are working to help the innovations and efficiencies of free market make quality health care available to all. I do not want to see us go to what they call a nationalized system or what some refer to as socialized medicine. We want to retain the quality of our health care, but we've got to give access to all, make insurance accessible to all. So we need to do that.

Then the last point I want to make is, we are fighting the explosion of nuisance lawsuits. Let's spend more time helping each other and less time suing each other. And that means we need to put some limits on these outrageous liability claims.

I might add that we are fighting hard to get the burdens of unreasonable Government regulation off the backs of the people. Regulation really imposes a hidden tax on every man, woman, and child in this country. In the State of the Union Address some 92 days ago, I lit a fire under our own administration's efforts for fundamental reform of Government regulation. This week we completed that 90-day moratorium that I ordered on new regulations. In just those 90 days we have completed or set in motion reforms that will save America billion to billion a year. And yesterday I ordered a 120-day extension on that moratorium, and I'm expecting many more achievements for freedom and for common sense.

Fundamental reform of regulation cannot be achieved overnight, and it's going to take a lot of tough, imaginative, patient effort. But I am totally committed to reforming regulation because the cost of inaction would be much more than we could bear. Think of some of the burdens and the contradictions that we already face.

Here in Columbus the city government has projected that over the next decade its cost of compliance with Federal environmental regulations alone will be .6 billion. And that's 6 per household per year. Now, this is for a community whose entire city budget last year was 1 million. The share of the city's budget to meet these regulations stands to increase from 10 percent to 23 percent. Right now, Columbus is one of the most attractive places in the country for people to work and live. But I can't say things will stay that way if the cost of meeting Government mandates keeps going right out through the roof.

In Juneau, Alaska, a local charity, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, wanted to build an addition to its shelter for the homeless, also requiring more parking space. Unfortunately, the building project was delayed for a whole year because bureaucrats declared the site a wetland. Now, get this: The shelter is in the middle of town surrounded by concrete, dry concrete, I think, on a city block that includes two car dealerships, a plumbing store, and a storage business. There is something wrong with this picture. Obviously somebody in this episode was all wet, but it wasn't the real estate for the homeless shelter. I cite this as just the kind of example that we must fight against at the Federal level, that the local level must fight against, too.

Back here in Ohio, an unreasonable Federal regulation almost forced the closing of this health plan in Dayton that we call the Dayton Area Health Plan. George Voinovich called this to my attention, an innovative managed-care program designed to offer high quality care to some 43,000 Medicaid recipients in Dayton. Governor Voinovich and the Lieutenant Governor, Mike DeWine, who I did not introduce but who is with us here today, led the effort to change this inequity. Just this week I signed legislation granting an exemption for this Ohio reform initiative. I have confidence in the new ideas that Ohioans are developing on their own, and without the mandates from the know-it-alls in these subcommittees back in Washington, DC, or in our own bureaucracy. We don't do much for Americans' health when we put HMO's like the one in Dayton on the critical list.

It's stories like these that remind us what a visionary Alexis de Tocqueville was. A century and a half ago, a century and a half ago he warned that if Americans were not careful, Government would, and here's the quote, ``cover the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate.'' This is de Tocqueville, coming over and taking a look at our society back then. I don't know what would happen to him if he took a look at it today.

We've heard the warning. We're fighting back. Our reform efforts are breathing new life into America's ability to compete, to innovate, and to create jobs. Every Federal agency that I asked to participate has responded with action to ease the burden of unnecessary regulation. From biotechnology to energy, to the banking field, and yes, to broadcasting and telecommunications, we are taking the shackles off of American enterprise.

Let me take this occasion to salute the FCC, Federal Communications Commission, for its actions to relax needless restrictions on ownership of radio stations. The FCC also has taken action to allow competition among international satellite companies. Now, this will help reduce prices that Americans now pay on more than a billion telephone calls every year to other countries. These are very welcome reforms. Al Sikes, who is our Chairman, the FCC Chairman, believes in free markets, and he believes in innovation. It's clear to me that that is the right direction.

Looking forward, one can't help but see that new telecommunications technologies will revolutionize science, education, and the way we do business. They will be an important boon to families. The day is coming when mothers and fathers will be able to spend more time at home with their children even as they make ever more productive contributions to our economy. The predictions for doing work at home in a productive way are absolutely outstanding, amazing. I think you're going to see a whole new area build up for productivity.

In the same spirit as regulatory reform is privatization, facilities now run by government to be owned and operated by competitive enterprises, and thus serve the public more fairly and more efficiently. Today before I came out here to Columbus, I signed an Executive order that will give State and local governments more freedom to sell or lease their infrastructure to the private sector if they choose to do so. We hear complaints that America's infrastructure is crumbling and that States aren't putting enough money into expanding or repairing it. At the same time, many private companies want to invest in these projects. So our Executive order will remove impediments to competitive enterprises buying infrastructure assets; that means bridges or roads or housing and sewage treatment plants.

This initiative could generate billions of dollars in new investment and millions of new jobs. American business has the funds to invest in infrastructure and has the funds to expand it. Through today's actions we will help more people enjoy cheaper and better waste water treatment service by letting businesses with real market incentives do the job. We'll help low-income tenants buy their own housing. The dignity that comes with homeownership is a wonderful thing for our country. We're promoting competition that could dramatically reduce the cost of urban mass transit. The money that States will receive for selling these facilities will be used to build even more new needed infrastructure or to lower the States' debts or to cut your taxes.

Privatizing state enterprises is one of the great hopes for economic growth and rebirth from Mexico City to Moscow. Take a look at what's happened south of our border under the courageous President of Mexico, Carlos Salinas. Look at the many formerly government-owned entities that he has turned over to much more efficient operation in the private sector. There is an example from what Mexico is doing for us right here in the United States.

Same thing is true in Moscow. As I sit down with the leaders from the new Commonwealth of Independent States, and I'll be meeting very soon with Kravchuk and shortly after that with Boris Yeltsin, we are encouraging them to move to the very kinds of privatization that I'm talking about here. I think you're going to find that they're doing it, and it's going to be highly successful. It offers them great hopes for recovery out of the economic morass that they're in right now.

So this idea presents many chances for positive change, change abroad and change right here in our own country. And they're opportunities, frankly, that we simply cannot afford to overlook. And of one thing I am certain: The status quo, the old thinkers are not going to yield on this without a fight. The special interest crowd will not like the agenda that I've outlined for you today. They think that Government ought to own more, not less. They think that Government ought to mandate more, not less.

When I meet with the Governors, and I've done that quite a few times since I've been President, all across party lines, all across ideological lines of conservative and liberal comes the cry from the Governors, ``Do not burden us with mandates coming out of some old-thinking subcommittee in the Capitol Hill of Washington, DC.'' We are determined to try to facilitate what the Governors want by giving them flexibility and saddling them with far fewer mandates. Washington hasn't changed much since you all have been there. It is swarming with noisy lobbyists for the old interests who want this highly centralized Federal Government and people who have never met a regulation that they didn't really like.

This is springtime, and a young man's thoughts turn, as does his radio dial, to baseball. So I thought I'd leave you with a favorite story. I don't know whether all these Yogi Berra stories are true or not; you know, ``Pair 'em up in threes,'' and things like that. [Laughter] In Yogi's hometown of St. Louis, the local people organized a celebration in his honor at the old Sportsman's Park. Yogi quavered with emotion as he stepped up to speak. ``First,'' he said, ``from the bottom of my heart let me thank all the people who have made this day necessary.'' [Laughter]

I think the point of the story is this: The freedom-loving people of this country, people of ingenuity and enterprise, people in leading-edge industries like your own, are not merely making renewal of limited Government possible; they're making it necessary. They're making it inevitable. Technological advance is accelerating so rapidly that the old guard can only hope in vain to keep up. We'll make intrusive and gluttonous Government a thing of the past. We've reached a turning point. And we're on the verge of watershed reforms to make Government stop stifling people who want to use their freedoms, their own freedoms, to create and to produce and to serve.

The day is coming when enterprisers and innovators like yourselves will lead us into these exciting new horizons. The day is coming when dreams not yet imagined will come true. I am confident about the years ahead. I know we've had difficult times, but I don't believe for one single minute that the United States of America is in decline. The future is tremendously exciting. And if we handle the technological change with the innovative manner I've outlined here today, I believe we can usher in all kinds of new eras of prosperity for the working man and woman in this country.

Again, I'm confident of the years ahead. The big thing is to keep this Nation a champion of ideas and of opportunity and, with that first subject in mind, of justice. We can reform our schools and our courts and our health system, our very system of Government. And we can assure that when we reach the new century America will still be the strongest, the bravest, and the freest Nation on the face of the Earth.

It's good to be back with you. And thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:12 p.m. at the Hyatt on Capitol Square. In his remarks, he referred to Anthony (Fred) Cusimano, association vice president and general manager; Gene D'Angelo, president and general manager, WBNS - AM/FM/TV; Dale Bring, association executive vice president; Thomas S. Stewart, vice president and general manager, WBNS - AM/FM; and Benjamin L. Hooks, executive director, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

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