House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) and a top administration official took issue yesterday with charges that President Carter has abandoned the unemployed, the poor and promised social programs in favor of a balanced federal budget for 1981.
"I think it's very unfair to make a judgement when a man's only been President of the United States for 100 days," O'Neill said on "Issues and Answers" (ABC, WMAL), "I think it's extremely unfair. I don't think he's going to leave the principles and the philosohies and the ideals of the Democratic Party whatsoever."
Charles L. Schultze, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, denied that there has been a move away from the administration's earlier position. "I don't believe there's been any change in priorities," said Schultze, speaking on "Face the Nation" (CBS, WTOP).
"It seems to me we do have two goals, and they're joint goals - to get the rate of unemployment down steadily to a reasonably low level over the years ahead, and, similarly, to try to do everything we can to control and ultimately to reduce the rate of inflation."
The target of O'Neill's comments was Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.), who excoriated Carter Saturday for trying "to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, the hungry and the jobless" and for breaking campaign promises to reduce defense spending and actively support welfare reform and national health insurance.
"I'm a little upset when I read remarks as [made by] Sen. McGovern," O'Neill said. "I think . . . let's give the man a chance."
The speaker said President Carter has begun moving to reduce unemployment and stimulate the economy. Social programs such as welfare reform and national health insurance are under active consideration, he said.
"George McGovern hasn't been to the policy committee meetings. He hasn't been to the leadership committee meetings," O'Neill said. "All of the things that Sen. McGovern talked about will come to the Congress from the President of the United States in due time."
McGovern, speaking to a meeting of the liberal Americans for Democratic Action, remarked that "in reviewing economic policy this spring, it sometimes seems difficult to remember who won last fall."
O'Neill said he believes Carter "has been doing an exceptionally wonderful job." He gave the President high marks for working with Congress, although he said there have been disagreements over methods.
When the Democratic leaders in Congress "go over to see Mr. Carter . . . we're members of the same time," O'Neill said. "We have dialogue. We're not necessarily all in agreement on the ideas of how you do the programs, but we're all in agreement on the basis. And the basis are that we've got to take care of the needy, we've got to take care of the poor."
However, the Speaker acknowledged that the President's emphasis on pushing through an energy program and stimulating the economy is making it hard for Congress to pay attention to anything else.
"As a matter of fact, we're complaining now about the number of programs that the President is sending over," O'Neill said.
Schultze noted that the unemployment rate fell to 7 per cent in April - a 29-month low. "Barring some really unforeseen circumstances, it's pretty clear that we're going to get it significantly below 7 per cent" by the end of the year, he said.