Former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, who is thinking about running for president in 1996, says a national referendum vote should be taken on President Clinton's health-care reform package.
Kemp, who met with reporters and then addressed a Utah Republican Party fund-raiser in Salt Lake City, said he's serious about the national vote. Clinton's "national health-care plan is so controversial, the implications and ramifications so wide, so much taxes raised, so much burden on the small business person . . . call time out. Take a vote."He said the Clinton health-care plan is the equivalent of Jimmy Carter's energy plan of the 1978 with price controls, mandates, bureaucracy, red tape and shortages.
"Take a vote. Make every person running for Congress in 1994 stand before the voters on this - on taxes, red tape and bureaucracy. The American people will vote down the Clinton plan," he said.
Kemp favors reform of health care: reform the tax system to allow individuals to buy self-insurance with pre-tax dollars like businesses can do; cover pre-existing conditions; help low-income people with vouchers and tax credits. "But the American people don't want to nationalize health care," he said.
Kemp is one of several possible GOP presidential candidates to come to Utah in the past year. Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kansas; former defense secretary Dick Cheney, and GOP national chairman Lamar Alexander have all been here.
Kemp refused to talk about a 1996 candidacy. "I'm talking (in behalf) of good Republican candidates in 1994. I'll talk about 1996 in 1995." Since leaving office with former President George Bush in 1993, Kemp makes a living sitting on several boards of directors and giving speeches.
He helped found Empower America, and sits on the board with Geneva Steel President Joe Cannon. Empower America seeks to create jobs and expand democratic capitalism.
Even though Clinton has many problems, personal and political, Kemp said GOP candidates in 1994 and 1996 can't win "just running against Bill Clinton. We can't win running against anything. We win by running for something."
He called for a new, unified Republican theme: limited government, the rule of law, private property and a list of conservative ideals. He wants to repeal the Clinton tax increase, "and to be bipartisan, repeal the Bush tax increase of 1990."
The country is over-regulated, too many federal mandates. "If we really want to put America back to work, it has to be done with small businessmen and women," he said.
And, Kemp said, Republicans have to reach out to minorities, especially black Americans. He said he called Oliver North last Monday - the day after North won the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in Virginia - and told him he'd be happy to support him. "But only if he did one thing, got out into the black neighborhoods of Virginia and asked for their vote."
Kemp said other GOP candidates have taken that advice and won. He said Republicans can't build a long-lasting, secure America by ignoring minority voters. "We can't have one party that takes (minority) votes for granted (the Democrats), and the other party that ignores them."
Given the choice between a Republican Party that provides jobs and dignity and a Democratic Party that promises welfare and food stamps, blacks and other minorities will pick the Republican Party.
Utah GOP chairman Bruce Hough guesses the state party will net about $50,000 from Kemp's visit. About 500 people paid between $100 and $175 a plate at the fund-raising dinner.