Rep. Henry Reuss (D-Wis.), warning that the Democratic Party must develop a new economic program if it hoped to survive, yesterday announced he was stepping down as chairman of the House Banking Committee to assume leadership of the Joint Economic Committee.
"The aim of economic policy is full employment without inflation," Reuss said in announcing his decision. "The Democrats have failed to achieve this aim, and that's why we were thrown out of office."
The 68-year-old Reuss, who won reelection in a landslide last week, said he viewed the chairmanship of the JEC as the "best opportunity to contribute to the long-term solution of the nation's economic problem."
The Reuss announcement means both the House and Senate Banking committees will have new chairmen next January. With the Republicans winning control of the Senate, the chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee will go to Sen. Jake Garn (R-Utah). Rep. Fernand St. Germain (D-R.I.) is expected to succeed Reuss as chairman of the House Banking Committee.
In opting for the JEC chairmanship, Feuss said "the nation needs, and the Democratic Party needs, a new economic program -- oriented toward industrial redevelopment, jobs, reconstruction of cities and transportation networks and towards long-term stable growth without inflation. The Joint Economic Committee is a good place to develop such a program."
Reuss said the Republicans have "captured the slogans of prosperity," but he questioned whether they will be able to deliver on their promises.
The JEC chairmanship shifts between the House and Senate with each new Congress. The committee has been under the chairmanship of Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) during the 96th Congress.