It's a US budget everybody wanted, but nobody likes
Members of Congress may not celebrate their new budget with Roman candles when they go home for the Fourth of July, but at least they can tell voters that a spending blueprint for fiscal 1983 is on the books.
Not much more can be said for a budget that no one appears to like, including the narrow majorities in Senate and House that approved it.
The deficit is too high to please conservatives, cuts in social programs trouble liberals, and few lawmakers in an election year like the idea of raising taxes.
All these elements are embedded in the budget resolution, which calls for spending $769.8 billion, more than $20 billion worth of higher taxes and user fees, and a deficit of $103.9 billion in fiscal year 1983, beginning October 1.
As it stands, the budget raises as many questions as it answers. Culling through the figures, for example, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) comes up with a prospective shortfall of $116.4 billion.
The CBO, directed by Alice M. Rivlin, supplies Congress with budget and economic information, much as the Office of Management and Budget does for the President.
The CBO'S higher deficit projection followed a request by a key Democratic senator that congressional experts take another hard look at the just-approved budget resolution.
Dr. Rivlin's staff, said Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D) of South Carolina, was to use CBO revenue estimates, not those supplied by the US Treasury.
On that basis, said Rivlin in a telephone interview, the CBO came up with a list of differences, all of which add up to a deficit projection more than $12 billion higher than that foreseen by the budget resolution.
In two ways, according to the CBO, the federal government is likely to collect less money than the budget document anticipates. Tax revenues may be $4. 8 billion smaller and sales of offshore oil tracts may yield $3.8 billion less than the government expects.
The CBO also expects defense spending to be $1.8 billion higher and interest on the national debt to go $1.8 billion above the budget figure.
Looking down the road, CBO foresees a deficit of $92.7 billion in fiscal 1985 resulting from the just-passed budget, compared to a $60 billion shortfall forecast by the congressionally approved budget.
Apart from these conflicting estimates, the new budget contains $13.6 billion in what are called ''management savings,'' which would have to be achieved by the Reagan administration.
So far the financial markets, which hold the key to the performance of interest rates, show little enthusiasm for the congressional budget effort. Rates recently have gone up, not down.
The budget document sets overall limits on revenues and spending, but does not specify how these are to be achieved. That task belongs to separate appropriations committees, which take the budget guidelines for programs under their jurisdiction and work within them.
Last year, when President Reagan achieved a sweeping legislative triumph by pushing the 1982 budget through Congress, this was done in a single package.
Lawmakers were able to avoid the spotlight - and the heat - of disgruntled lobbyists and constituents because they did not have to identify themselves with costs for specific popular programs.
As the year rolled on, charges multiplied that the 1982 Reagan budget, which Democrats and Republicans had clamored to endorse, was unfair to the poor.
This sprang largely from the fact that 65 percent of the budget - defense, social security, and interest on the debt - was exempt from cuts, leaving so-called discretionary programs vulnerable to the budget ax. Within that remaining 35 percent of the budget fall most of the programs on which disadvantaged Americans depend.
This time around House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. (D) of Massachusetts decrees that the package will be broken up into separate bills. A spotlight will be on each one, as it moves through the committee stage and onto the floor of the House.
Senate committees are to report out their revenue and spending bills by July 20 and House committees by August 1. For those lawmakers facing the voters in November (all congressmen and one-third of the Senate), the choices may be excruciatingly hard.
They must, according to the budget guidelines just adopted, raise more than $ 20 billion in additional revenue and cut some popular programs below the levels of fiscal 1982.
All this means that the final 1983 budget may end up looking considerably different from the blueprint that emerged from the clutches of the conference committee and was reluctantly embraced by House and Senate.