Perot `Draws a Line in the Sand' Over Clinton Spending Increases
Former presidential candidate plans TV `town meeting' on reform
AUSTIN, TEXAS — THE Clinton-Perot honeymoon shows signs of ending.
Since the Nov. 3 election, Ross Perot has refrained from attacking Bill Clinton to give the new president's programs a chance. President Clinton, meanwhile, has adopted phrases of Mr. Perot's like "fair, shared sacrifice" to court the 20 percent of American voters who supported Perot's independent candidacy last fall.
Now Perot appears to be losing patience with watching from the sidelines as Clinton works to move an anti-deficit package through Congress.
Perot told a University of Texas audience recently that the national debt had grown by $130 billion since election day.
He said he had "drawn a line in the sand" in an earlier series of speeches over Clinton's intention to get Congress to pass new spending increases before considering spending cuts. Perot said he had demanded that Clinton give Congress a comprehensive package. Clinton may have reversed his stand last week.
Washington will hear much more from Perot tomorrow. The Dallas billionaire will testify before a joint congressional committee on government reform. Also, Perot said he will perform "saturation bombing" of the media leading up to a March 21 TV "town hall" in which viewers will get to vote on specific government reforms.
Perot said ballots will be printed in TV Guide magazine. Viewers will also be told how to make a ballot from a blank sheet of paper before the broadcast on NBC at 7 p.m. (Central time).
"Millions and millions of people are going to vote on government reform," Perot said. He did not specify how the votes would be collected, verified, and tallied, nor how the results would be brought to bear on Washington.
Perot said he will insist tomorrow that in exchange for higher taxes, Congress must start keeping accurate books, pass the balanced-budget amendment, give the president a line-item veto, get rid of the electoral college, and set the example for sacrifice. He said Congress should cut its salary and retirement programs and end "soft money" contributions and perks.
PEROT also visited San Antonio and Houston over the weekend to publicize United We Stand, America (UWSA). The newly formed advocacy organization aims to eliminate foreign lobbyists as its first priority, Perot said, and to hang a "not for sale at any price" sign on Washington.
Dallas-headquartered UWSA has released no progress reports on the membership drive now under way.
In California, UWSA official Lee Garlington says he expects within weeks to reach its initial target of 108,000 members. That is 2,000 times the state's number of electoral votes, a standard that Dallas has set to charter state organizations.