Congress knows how to pass a $1 trillion budget, but can it rock 'n' roll?

Yes, it can -- even with tongue in cheek. Rep. William Gray III (D-Pa.) provided that answer yesterday, playing musical chairman of the House Budget Committee and offering what he called a "classified list" of President Reagan's favorite rock 'n' roll songs.

As proof that Gray and Reagan have seldom sung in harmony on fiscal matters, the congressman substituted new lyrics for the golden oldies, as in his parody of the president singing the Platters' famous hit "The Great Pretender":

Oh, yes, I'm the greatest spender.

Pretending I'm not, but I am.

I blame Congress

When I speak to the press

But my budget's no more than a sham."

There were four pages of such lyrics -- inspired, if that's the word, by some recent comments from Reagan -- in an official Budget Committee news release from Gray.

Reagan had expressed the view that budget reforms he has urged unsuccessfully for six years were "oldies but goodies." Then, when House-Senate conferees agreed on a budget distasteful to him, he remarked -- in threatening a veto -- that "it's rock and roll time again at the White House."

In response, a member of Gray's staff, with some family help, rewrote such '60s and '70s rock 'n' roll classics as "R-E-S-P-E-C-T," which became "D-E-F-I-C-I-T," and "We Are the World," which was transformed into "We Owe the World" in reference to U.S. indebtedness abroad.

With apologies to Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Gray's version of "Give Me That Old-Time Rock and Roll" began with Reagan singing:

Just take those old proposals off the shelf,

I'll sit and listen to them by myself.

Gramm-Rudman-Hollings ain't got the same soul.

I like that old time rock and roll.

Call me a big spender, call me what you will

Say I'm old fashioned, say I'm over the hill.

These lower deficits ain't got the same soul.

I like that old-time rock and roll."

Gray joked that he obtained the list of so-called Reagan favorites "from a White House moderate -- and there are fewer of them in the White House than in Iran."