Ross Perot's Reform Party stages assembly in Calif. Keynote speaker Lamm assails unbalanced budget

June 02, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

LOS ANGELES -- Ross Perot and California members of his nascent Reform Party gave the new third party its first major road test as they assembled at a two-day conference here this weekend.

In his keynote address yesterday, former Gov. Richard D. Lamm of Colorado championed two of the party's principles -- TC balanced federal budget and campaign finance and electoral reform. Lamm, a frequent and often provocative critic of what he sees as the major parties' reluctance to solve fiscal problems -- for example, by overhauling health care and Social Security -- said that with the coming retirement of the baby-boomer generation, and other factors, the New Deal had become "a raw deal" for "our children and grandchildren."

Lamm said that the New Deal ought to be overhauled and entitlements curbed. "Pete Peterson said it so well, 'Trying to balance the budget without taking on entitlements is like trying to clean the garage without moving the Winnebago,' " said Lamm, referring to the former commerce secretary.

Lamm, 60, said his generation would be guilty of "generational malpractice" if the nation continued on its current course. "We have become a country that borrows, rather than saves," he said. "A country that spends, rather than invests that is blindly, thoughtlessly consuming not only our own share, but a part of our children and grandchildren's share of America's resources."

A belief in the need to balance the federal budget, and tenets such as limits on congressional terms, are the positions espoused by Perot's United We Stand America, the nonpartisan group he founded after he captured 18.9 percent of the vote in his 1992 presidential campaign. But since he announced plans for a third party last fall, the energy and effort that he is pouring into his new venture seem to have eclipsed the United We Stand group.

Further evidence of the movement's viability came from the Federal Election Commission last week. In an advisory opinion scheduled for review at a meeting this week, the FEC found that Perot's 18.9 percent share of the popular vote in 1992 would make him eligible for pre-election federal money if Perot became the Reform Party's presidential nominee and he abided by federal fund-raising and spending limits.

In that case, Perot would get nearly half of the $61.8 million that President Clinton and Bob Dole, the Republicans' apparent nominee, will each receive for their fall election campaigns.

Pub Date: 6/02/96

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