Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan., said Monday that recent elections didn't signal voters' demand for national health insurance or a big tax cut, as pundits claim.
"They simply want good government. They want to feel confident that . . . they're getting effective government and their money's worth," she said in Lawrence.
Kassebaum spoke at the first combined meeting of Lawrence Rotary Club and Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.
The country needs confidence in public officials to get through a unique period of economic adjustment and government retrenchment, she said.
Kassebaum offered several ideas for getting the economy and government on track.
AT LEAST $2 billion should be withdrawn from U.S. highway and aviation trust funds and spent rebuilding the country's infrastructure and providing jobs, she said.
Kassebaum said unemployment benefits should be extended. The extension could be paid for with money in the federal unemployment trust fund.
Congress must be certain of where it wants to take the economy rather than reach for "some quick political fix that is going to sound good for the 1992 campaign," she said.
She doesn't believe it's a good idea as some in government suggest to cut federal taxes by $400 a year for a joint filer and $200 for individual filers.
"We have to be very honest with ourselves and wonder whether those kinds of tax cuts are really what is needed at this point to regenerate a vitality in the economy."
KASSEBAUM said she may endorse a capital gains tax cut that favors long-term investors, but she isn't convinced Congress needs to make big changes in the federal tax code.
"It can be extremely mischievous. You never know what is added between 12 midnight and 1 in the morning many times," she said.
The senator said education is the key to making the United States economically productive in the 21st century.
"It's an educational tragedy that we're sending students to college who have to take remedial reading," she said. "We are trivializing our college degrees if we don't demand more from our elementary and secondary education."
Kassebaum said there is no question defense spending must be reduced. The question is how to go about it. The B-2 bomber, costing about $800 million apiece, may not be necessary, she said.
"My guess is that the B-2 may not come into being. But I'm not willing to make that decision yet," she said.
KASSEBAUM questioned the need to increase spending on SDI, a space-based missle defense system. She favors a ground-based defense system.
On health care, Kassebaum supports creation of a standard health insurance package that would be offered by all insurance companies.
"It would be put together by a commission that would decide what is in the package," she said.
Kassebaum also said too much is made of congressional perks, which she said aren't substantial.
"I'm glad to have a parking space in the garage. I don't use the beauty shop. I've not used the physician's office. Everybody thinks we go to work in limousines."