George Bush photo

Remarks at a Bush-Quayle Fundraising Luncheon in Cleveland, Ohio

May 21, 1992

Thank you all. Please be seated, and thanks for that welcome. George Voinovich gave our administration a lot of credit for these things that he clicked off today, and he talked about the blast furnace. You should have seen the letter that he sent to me, blasting us to get the blast furnace going. [Laughter] He's a hands-on Governor, just as he was a hands-on Mayor of this great city. And he is one of our very, very best across the whole country, and you all are awful lucky, in case you didn't know it. And that goes for Janet, too.

I, too, want to thank the Fairview High School Band and Virgil Brown; Jim Petro for leading us in the pledge. May I single out one who is with me today that some of you know personally, but who is doing a superb job fighting now to get some legislation that he and I believe in, legislation that's been lingering before the Congress for 3 years, through the Congress. I'm talking about our able Secretary of HUD, Jack Kemp, over here, Jack.

And may I wish Mike DeWine the very, very best. We need him in the Senate. We've got to get control of the United States Senate. And also, Art Modell, thank you, sir. I'll never forget a marvelous event out at Art's house when I was running for this job, and he's been a good supporter and an outstanding citizen of Cleveland. And of course, Tim Timken has been at my side for a long, long time, and I'm very proud of the job he does on the national level as well as working for the Bush-Quayle effort here in this State. Bob Taft is with us, the secretary of state, another longtime friend, also doing a superb job for all of you.

Bob Bennett, when I think back to my days of being national chairman, chairman of the Republican Party, there were some who just were ornaments. Some didn't hit a lick. And Bob Bennett is an outstanding, active, hands-on chairman of the Republican Party in this State; and that's why I believe we will get control of the State House of Representatives. And may I, too, thank Stan Aronoff and Martha Moore and single out Bobby Holt, our national finance chairman, and Dick Freeland, our regional Bush-Quayle finance chairman.

I am very, very pleased to be here. I will be out of here in time for you all to go back to work, suit up, and then watch the Cavs and the Bulls play at 8 p.m. tonight. So my priorities are correct.

Let me start by saying I think we have an awful lot to be grateful for as a Nation. These are troubled times, times of discontent. It isn't just America, if you look around the world, incidentally. Take a look at Germany. Take a look at France. Take a look at what was happening in England before their election. There seems to be a turmoil, an antipolitical mode.

But I think as George pointed out, we have a lot to be grateful for. We have effected, helped effect, worldwide change. Democracy is on the move. There's turmoil in Eastern Europe, but it's moving in the right direction. Totalitarianism is dead. South of our own border you're seeing, through our Enterprise for the Americas Initiative and through the Brady plan, you're seeing a whole resurgence of private sector activity and the democratic march in our own hemisphere.

The main point I would make is that our kids can go to sleep at night in this country with far less fear of nuclear war. That is significant change. That is worldwide change. And we had a hand in bringing it about, everybody that supported the strong defense of the United States.

So as we move into this election year, we're moving in there with something we can really be proud of to take to the American people. The spirit of Desert Storm is not dead in this country. The country came together after we were the ones that stood up to aggression, formed a coalition, and said to the rest of the world: One country, a big bully of a country, is not going to take over another. And that has given us the standing around the world that I think is unprecedented, certainly in recent times.

Now, what we're trying to do domestically is to take that move for change and bring it to bear on our problems right here at home. It's been put in focus by the troubles out in Los Angeles. We have a program that ties in and fits nicely to solving the problems in not only Los Angeles but the problems that are plaguing our cities. And indeed, many of the answers spill over into rural America as well. What I wanted to do is just point out where we stand in terms of trying to change things productively here at home.

The first thing I would say is we have to support our law enforcement people. We do; our administration does it in many, many ways. We have a program now that is called "Weed and Seed": Weed out the criminals, and then seed these neighborhoods with hope and with opportunity. But we must not move away and try to explain away the gang members and the terrorists in our cities.

I was pleased to see some of Cleveland's finest out here, police officers, because I like to be able to tell these men who are giving themselves for all of us that we back them up as they go into harm's way, trying to bring order and civility to the neighborhoods that need it the most. We must support our police. You know, I made that comment in the Mount Zion Baptist Church right in the heart of south central L.A. And I felt strongly about it, and I was flanked by 200 pastors from the various Baptist churches, the area's churches that were in the most heavily impacted area. The church came out in spontaneous applause. The people in the neighborhood know that they are the ones that are being ravaged by the gangs and the criminals and the criminal elements.

The next point, though, is not just "weed," it's not just law enforcement, law and order; it is also seeding the area with hope and with opportunity. This program we have, antidrug, profamily, proinvestment, is a good one. So we start with our first incentive: Fund our "Weed and Seed" program. The second one: We've got to rebuild community. And again, I salute Jack Kemp. He's been out on the firing line for this for the 3 years that our administration has been in office.

Enterprise zones: There is an idea whose time has come. And every place Jack and I went in the neighborhood, whether it was Hispanic, whether it was the Korean neighborhood, whether it was in the largely Afro-American neighborhoods, those community leaders were saying, "Give us enterprise zones. Change the tax structure so that this place can serve as a magnet to bring jobs with dignity into the private sector." That idea is here now; it's on the table right this minute in the Congress. And the Congress ought to pass it, and pass it fast.

And along with it is another concept: Homeownership. Isn't it far better, isn't it far better for the dignity and strength of a family to have a person own a home or have a tenant-managed project than it is to go to some desolate brick-and-mortar that has no heart, no soul, and falls apart because nobody cares? Homeownership is an idea whose time has come. And we've challenged the Congress again: Get moving and give us more to take to the American people in terms of homeownership. That's the third one.

The fourth one: Welfare reform. Some say, "Well, when you talk about welfare reform, you're injecting race into the situation." That isn't what we're talking about at all. Did you know that if a family -- I saw a case the other day of a little girl, saved a little money in a welfare family, got past $1,000, and she was penalized. "Oh, you can't. Your family is on welfare. You can't do that." We've got to reform the welfare system, not only to make it so there's workfare and learnfare and give the States a chance to innovate but to change the rules so people are not punished for saving. It's not a racist thing. It isn't a black versus white or Hispanic versus anybody else; it's what's fair and right. We've got to give some dignity to the family. And the way to do it is to reform the welfare system, and we're going to keep on trying.

Number four: Job training. We've got a good new job training approach. Frankly, there's an awful lot of Government Agencies involved in servicing communities, as George Voinovich knows. He's working hard to help us streamline this. But we have a Job Training 2000 program that calls for one-stop shopping, so a person that doesn't quite know how to filter his way around through all this big bureaucracy of ours can go and take his tiny little problem to the one-stop office and try to get some job training that really is effective. And Job Training 2000 is a good, new program, and I believe that it needs to have the support of the American people. And we are going to keep working not only legislatively but administratively to bring more jobs and opportunity through job training to the various communities.

Then, the last point of these six is the question of education. It's a little longer run. Our education program won't solve the problems of the cities overnight. But if you take a look at what we really have to do in this country, we literally have to revolutionize education. And we've got a great Secretary of Education in Lamar Alexander. He's ably assisted by a former businessman that many of the people in this room know, David Kearns. He was the former chief executive of Xerox, who gave up his wonderful business challenge and perhaps retirement to come in as the number two guy in the Department of Education.

What we've done is design a program called America 2000. It literally revolutionizes the education system in this country. It emphasizes things like choice. We find that when parents have a choice of where their kids go to school, not only do they get a much better shot at what they want, but the schools that are not chosen improve themselves. So our administration stands firmly for parental choice, for private and public and religious schools alike. And we ought to get that done right now for the American people.

These are some specific points that we're working for, and right now I've challenged the Congress in this manner. I've said to them: Look, I know we have political differences. I'm a realist about the election, and I know that the closer and closer we get to the election, it isn't going to be easy. You're not going to want to see me get one leg up. And I'm going to continue to fight for the things we believe. But let's take the things we agree on now. Homeownership is one; enterprise zones is one. In fact, that passed the United States House of Representatives, wrapped up in a great big tax increase bill that, of course, I wasn't going to sign. But nevertheless, we have several of these programs that will help America right now.

Rather than play the political game -- I've had two meetings with the leadership, both Republican and Democrat, and I said, look, let's agree on several of these points and pass it and show the American people that we can move forward instead of standing around there playing politics as usual. I will repeat that: Let's pass what we can, and pass it now.

Now if you think of these points I have outlined, there are themes to all this: Personal responsibility, opportunity, ownership, independence, dignity, empowerment. And that all adds up to the American dream. And we are not going to give up on the American dream, and we recognize that there's -- overlying these issues are enormously big issues. And one of them is we've got to stop mortgaging our kids' future.

And the way to go about doing that -- and there's another idea whose time has come -- finally we are getting bipartisan consideration of the balanced budget amendment, something I've been talking about for 12 years. And it's time to pass it. We've got to phase it in, but pass it. And that will discipline not just the Congress but the executive branch as well. And it's really moving now. So if you have any influence at all on either side of the aisle, make your case. Because it's timely, and it's an idea whose time has come.

And the other one which I consider a great big issue that fits into the idea of fiscal sanity is this: Forty-three Governors can take a pen, and they can ax out something that they consider is irrelevant in terms of spending or excessive in terms of spending. So I say and ask for support from the American people on this one: You give me the line-item veto this fall, and let's see if we can't do a better job cutting the spending that is ruining America's fiscal standing.

And the third issue of that nature, a balanced budget amendment, line-item veto, is legal reform. We've got to help each other more and sue each other less. And the way to do it is for tort reform.

And the last point I want to make today has nothing to do with "Murphy Brown." [Laughter] But it does have to do with something that George Voinovich mentioned. I'm talking about family values. And I'm going to continue to talk about that.

I've talked with Jack about this, Jack Kemp. And I had a meeting with the National League of Cities -- I mentioned this in the State of the Union -- key mayors, Tom Bradley of Los Angeles, a Republican mayor from a tiny town in North Carolina, and all size city mayors from in between, one from Plano, Texas. And they came to me, and they said, "We've been thinking what we can do about the cities. And we think that the single most important problem is the demise, the dissolution, the decline of the American family." And I just can't tell you what an impact that made on me. They weren't saying, "Send us all this money." Of course they'd like to have that. But they addressed themselves to the decline of the American family, and they asked me to appoint an urban commission, a commission on the American family, which as you may recall I did, announcing John Ashcroft of Missouri and Mrs. Strauss, the former Mayor of Dallas, to be the Cochairs of that committee.

We have got to find ways to strengthen the American family. And that's why I ask you to give sincere consideration and support to those six objectives that I spelled out above. Because each one of them, in some way or another, strengthens and does not diminish the American family.

I feel very strongly about it. I know that there are those who are deprived, who are born into almost hopeless situations. But there are all kinds of ways that we can help. You can lift up the kid that starts off with a tremendous advantage through what we call Points of Light activities. You can look at every single piece of legislation to see that it doesn't encourage husband and wife to live apart. You can do what you can in the whole field of education.

But all of us as Americans must address ourselves to the idea that we must find ways to strengthen the American families. Because Barbara Bush is right: What happens in your house is much more important than what happens in the White House.

So here's our agenda. I think it's a good one. I think it is an optimistic one. I think it is an encouraging one. And I will be proud to be taking this case to the American people in the fall. But as I conclude today, my appeal to the American people would be, please, help us now with the United States Congress, and move this hope and opportunity agenda through the United States Congress. We need your help. We need the help of the people. And now is the time.

Thank you all, and God bless you. And thank you for your support.

Note: The President spoke at 12:25 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Stouffer Tower City Plaza Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to George Voinovich, Governor of Ohio, and his wife, Janet; Virgil Brown, Jr., who gave the invocation; Art Modell, Cleveland Browns football team owner; Tim Timken, luncheon chairman; Stan Aronoff, Ohio State Senate president; and Martha Moore, Ohio Republican Party vice chairman.

George Bush, Remarks at a Bush-Quayle Fundraising Luncheon in Cleveland, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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