Campaigning yesterday in Maryland, Republican presidential candidate Phil Gramm said policy-makers in Washington should take what he called the Larry Aaron Test.
Mr. Gramm said they should spend a few hours pulling crab pots from the Chesapeake Bay alongside Mr. Aaron, an Eastern Shore waterman, something the Texas senator said he has done.
Government spending advocates would conclude that few government programs are good enough to justify taking so much tax money -- $1 out of every $4 earned, Mr. Gramm said -- from hard-working Americans.
Hallmarks of his "kitchen table economics" also would include "saying no when no is the right answer," he said during a brief campaign stop at Vaccaro's Pastry Shop in Little Italy.
Because he has a vacation home on the Eastern Shore (where he met Mr. Aaron), Mr. Gramm is practically a native son, according to his Maryland campaign chairwoman, Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the 1994 GOP candidate for governor.
Her candidate has done well among party regulars, winning at least one straw poll victory and counting about half of the state's GOP legislators as supporters. One of his standard-bearers, Del. John R. Leopold of Annapolis, said he believes Maryland is an important state for Mr. Gramm as he attempts to overcome the consensus front-runner, Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas.
Mr. Gramm will leave no doubt about where he stands, Mrs. Sauerbrey said.
Even in the toughest circumstances, he said, the nation may have to say "no."
If he were speaking to the 600 workers recently informed they would lose their jobs at Oakland's Bausch & Lomb plant, he would recognize the "disruption" in their lives but offer no bailout, he said.
"Instead of worrying about how to commiserate with people who lose their jobs, we have to get busy creating jobs," he said.
At the end of the year, Bausch & Lomb will close two of its three plants and move its operation to Texas where, its management said, the business climate is best.
States such as Maryland, Mr. Gramm said, must improve their business climate so companies are willing to invest here -- and to be ready with new jobs for those who find themselves out of work as the result of restructuring.
"If the company didn't restructure it'd probably be out of business," he said.
As for government as we know it, "If we don't change national policy, if we don't change it soon and if we don't change it dramatically," he said, "in 20 years it won't be the same nation."
Among candidates for delegate to the Republican National Convention announced yesterday for the Gramm team were Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett in Western Maryland's 6th District; Del. Martha S. Klima of Baltimore County, in the 2nd District; Del. Richard LaVay of Montgomery County, in the 8th District; and Anthony D. Cobb, a candidate for Baltimore City Council president last year.