White House, Congress trade shots over '83 budget
President Reagan's budget for fiscal 1983 continues to find a chilly reception in Washington. The iciness of Congressional Democrats is, of course, somewhat predictable. But it's the coolness among Republicans that has the White House worried.
Few heads were turned when Democrats, led by House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. of Massachusetts, attacked the budget for building up the military at the expense of the poor, the unemployed, and the environment. But instead of spirited defense in the the Republican camp, which last year rang out praises for Mr. Reagan's economic program, there is a damaging quiet..
Senate Budget Committee chairman Pete V. Domenici (R) of New Mexico has not yet uttered a public word on the President's budget. He had already voiced serious concerns over deficits estimated at $99 billion for the current fiscal year and $92 billion for '83.
On the Senate floor, Ernest F. Hollings (D) of South Carolina proposed Feb. 10 a crash savings program to cut the deficit to $42 billion. His alternative would freeze defense spending, hold entitlements (payments ranging from food stamps to social security) at current levels, and take back some of the personal tax cuts voted last year. Such a plan would run against almost every principle President Reagan has laid down.
And yet Senate majority leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R) of Tennessee has said he is interested in the Hollings proposal. A number of Republicans and some Democrats are examining the budget, trying to find ways to change it, says a Senate leadership aide.
''Everybody is somewhat stunned by those deficits,'' says the aide. ''I would not interpret the silence as a general rejection, but it's an effort to come up with a consensus opinion.''