White House chief of staff James A. Baker III predicted yesterday that the administration will face a blacklash on its budget cuts when they began being felt by the public later this year.
"I think you'll see some fairly strong reaction to the budget cuts when they hit the street in October or November," Baker said. "The president has said all along that we didn't get into this mess overnight, so don't look for instant gratification or relief as far as inflation is concerned."
Baker would not say when he thought this relief would come, but pointed to previous administration forecasts of lower inflation rates next year. Asked about Wall Street predictions that dispute this view, Baker said, "Well, we're confident that Wall Street will not be as accurate as we have been."
Last week Reagan remarked that he had "never found Wall Street a source of good economic advice."
Baker's comments came at a luncheon with editors and reports of The Washington Post. In response to questions, he also said:
The biggest failings of the administration during its first months in office have been in its personnel operations, the handling of the Social Security issue and the process of its foreign policy operations. But all of these have been corrected.
It is important for the administration to be sensitive to signs of ostentation on its part at a time when others are being asked to tighten their belts. That is why plans for a yacht for Reagan have been dropped. "It sends the wrong signal and we understand that."
Attempts by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) to block administration appointments in the State Department will not prove successful. "We'd prefer not to fight with anybody, but the president will do what's necessary to get his nominations confirmed."
Responding to another question, which had as its premise that Helms had cowed the administration and pre-empted the president's role. Baker said, "I don't think anybody believes that Jesse Helms speaks for us in foreign policy."
After separate meetings with Reagan Wednesday, Helms and Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.) said that the two appointments currently blocked by Helms -- Chester A. Crocker to be assistant secretary for African affairs and Myer Rashish to be undersecretary for economic affairs -- will be acted upon soon.
James Baker gave a similar view yesterday. He also said that the conflicts about foreign policy process, which were conspicuous in the early months of the administration, had ended.
"I don't think it's unusual for an administration to have turf battles, particularly in the area of National Security Council operations and jurisdiction," Baker said. "We had ours, we got 'em over in a hurry, they're behind us. We have a procedure now that is working and working well."
Baker declined to give a timetable for a speech in which Reagan would spell out his foreign policies in comprehensive detail.
"That's not something that has to be done in the first six months of the administration, particularly when it is as preoccupied, as we have been and have had to be, with the most sweeping fiscal reforms in 40 years," Baker said.
" . . . We have just so many resources in the White House and just so much talent, and if you diffuse that and go off chasing too many things at one time you just cannot be successful. That's hopefully one of the lessons we learned from the Carter administration."