'Reagan revolution' needs Democrats now, voters in '82'
The Reagan team already is looking ahead to 1982 and 1984 for completing the Reagan revolution. Reaganites are split, however, about wanting to talk openly about Mr. Reagan's campaigning for Republicans next year.
The President's program needs Democratic support, particularly in the House. Partisan GOP campaign rhetoric now could thwart Republican efforts to pass the Reagan economic program.
President Reagan April 30, in fact, began a series of private one-on-one chats with two dozen House members, mostly Democrats, to gain their support. The White House wanted to keep the meetings as discreet as possible.
The White House and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are trying to avoid the threat of using or withholding Reagan wrath in 1982.
Nonetheless, 100 days into a first term, the Reaganites already are making a positive case, and plans, for a two-term presidency.
The immediate goals of cutting spending and trimming taxes can be put in place in the next few months and results seen within a first term. But long-range goals like deregulation and restoring power to the states may take several years to manage, Reaganites say.
An active role for President Reagan in next year's congressional races is a must if he intends to run again in 1984 and to assure continued momentum through his first term, contend White House political aides such as Lyn Nofziger.
"If we're going to have a successful administration through the full four years, and if we're going to have a chance to be reelected in 1984, then you've got to move the President into an active role in 1982," Mr. Nofziger says.
"Politically, we're moving ahead," Nofziger told the Monitor. "I'm looking at '84 now. The things you do in '81 and '82 are going to have a direct bearing on '84. I'm not out planning who will run Illinois in '84. But what we are doing is saying, 'Hey, it's necessary to keep that organization together.'"
Reagan himself is the Republicans' best eight-year asset, they believe.
The President's quick recovery to press the case for his economic package before Congress April 28 has underscored his importance to the GOP, White House insiders say.
His importance goes beyond tactical usefulness in day-to-day legislative battles. It is the "Reagan attitude" -- a consistent point of view on Republican principles -- that gives a fixity, a rallying point, and a long-range thrust to the administration's agenda.
A second Reagan long-range asset is the simplicity of his overall plan and proposals, White House aides say.
In the congressional fight at hand, the President has a good chance to carry Congress along on his three-year, 10 percent-a-year tax cut plan -- the most vulnerable part of his program -- says Reagan administration domestic policy strategist Martin Anderson. The public has its recent federal tax filings in thought, Mr. Anderson says. And the across-the-board simplicity of the Reagan proposal gives it an edge over the more complicated cuts the opposition proposes , he adds.
Reaganites count on a track record of achievements the public -- not just economists -- can understand to build a case for a second term. Such a strategy was used during Reagan's reelection bid for the governorship of California.
Other aides worry that next year's economic events could undermine the administration's carefully wrought economic plans. Inflation or other factors could cause actual spending to creep above the $695 billion budget target Reagan wants. But again, to maintain credibility for the long haul, the President would push for more cuts, Anderson says.
"This is not a four-year stint," says longtime Reagan-watcher William K. Muir , chairman of the University of California at Berkeley Political Science Department. "There's no doubt about that."
"The themes I see him developing will require a second term," Professor Muir says. "The federalism theme, for instance, which is dear to President Reagan's heart, will take five or six years to develop."
Reagan's attempt to convert federal spending into block grants will have to be tested. "The people will have to be convinced the Southern states are capable of running programs justly," Muir says, "since things were rigged so long against the blacks before the Civil Rights Act of 1965."