President Reagan fired two more shots at the twin enemies of government spending and federal regulation yesterday in a string of appearances before the cameras meant to sell his programs and show him as personally involved in the decisions of his fledgling administration.
He ended a busy day by receiving four Democratic House committee chairmen in an effort to build bipartisan support for his economic goals and then seeing an anti-abortion group, the first people from outside the government Reagan has received in the Oval Office.
The Democrats praised Reagan for the early gesture, but two warned that he is falling behind his own timetable for submitting an economic recovery program to Congress.
Reagan attacked government spending with an order to cut travel by government officials, reduce the number of outside consultants hired and stop purchasing furniture and other office equipment.
He also directed his Cabinet members not to redecorate their offices, thereby denying them a perquisite out of the past.
"There were those who didn't want the president to do this, but he felt he had to set an example," a senior Reagan aide said.
A different example is being set in the family living quarters of the White House. Nancy Reagan has been planning renovations with her Los Angeles decorator, Ted Graber.
White House press aides said a $50,000 congressional appropriation is available to each incoming president for redecoration of the White House and that any cost above that must be raised privately.
No cost estimate was available for the alterations Mrs. Reagan plans. White House press secretary James S. Brady explained the White House redecoration by saying, "There's a difference between a place where you live and a place where you work."
Reagan's order was to cut government travel by 15 percent, reduce obligations for consultants by 5 percent and halt equipment purchases except for the military and things "needed to protect human life and property."
Travel will cost the federal government about $3.9 billion this fiscal year, according to the Office of Management and Budget. However, most of this is military.
A recent OMB study found that, by improved management, the government might save $100 million in travel costs each year, according to Joseph J. Minarik, a Brookings Institution economist who has studied the subject. The Reagan press office said the OMB had estimated that all four parts of the order would save more than $300 million.
Reagan acknowledged that "no single action alone will get our economy back on the road to full recovery," but said the American people want action on the economy and "they are going to find out that we're listening to them."
Reagan's economic advisers hav said that the quickly available budget cuts, such as the federal hiring freeze Reagan announced Tuesday and yesterday's action, can only trim small amounts. To balance the budget, more painful, difficult-to-achieve reductions must be made in the entitlement programs, which provide benefits to millions of Americans at much greater cost.
The president signed his spending cut order before the TV cameras in the Oval Office about 45 minutes after he had been asked by a reporter whether any new orders would be forthcoming and had paused until he noticed OMB Dicrector David A. Stockman vigorously nodding his head at the far end of the Cabinet table.
"Do we have something ready?" Reagan asked. He indicated Stockman, and said, "I have a fellow at the end of a table who tells me that we do."
The president's next appearance came when he and Vice President Bush appeared in the White House press briefing room. Reagan announced that Bush will head a presidential task force to study and reform federal regulations.
Reagan called the reduction and reform of "irrational and senseless" regulations "one of the keystones in our policy."
Reagan, one of whose campaign themes was to "get the government off the backs of the people," said he is confident that the new task force will not simply produce another report to take up shelf space.
Before the four Democratic House chairmen visited Reagan for 15 minutes each, Brady announced that the president placed five-minute telephone calls Wednesday to the government leaders of Canada, Italy, Britain, France, West Germany and Japan to express his anticipation of working closely with them.
One of he Democrats who met with the president, House Budget Committee Chairman James R. Jones (D-Okla.), said he formed the impression that the target for submitting Reagan's economic program to the Hill had slipped from early February to the middle or even the end of that month. He also said Reagan indicated that he plans to address the nation "fairly soon" on the economic issue.
Jones was careful not to criticize Reagan, but he seemed to be pressing for swifter action. Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) also came out of the Oval Office urging Reagan to speed up his timetable.
A third, Rep. Jack Brooks (D-Tex.), said he made the case to Reagan for keeping the Department of Education, which Reagan repeatedly pledged, during the campaign, to abolish. Reagan's fourth visitor was John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) of the Commerce Committee.
Later, Reagan met with representatives of a group committed to a constitutional amendment that would outlaw abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother.
Two prominent congressional supporters of he anti-abortion movement, Sen. Jesse A. Helms (R-N.C.) and Rep Robert K. Dornan (R-Calif.), accompanied the members of the organization, which held a demonstration here yesterday.
Reagan told them of his action as governor of California in 1967, when he signed highly permissive abortion bill that has been responsible for several hundred thousand abortions. He said the law had been intended to permit a limited number of abortions, but that it had been interpreted by the medical profession to allow "literally abortion on demand."