President Reagan, concerned that his hard-won budget victory will be nickeled-and-dimed to death both by Congress and executive branch departments, has created a Budget Review Board to monitor federal expenditures.
The three members of the board carry clout. They are pesidential counselor Edwin Meese III, White House Chief of Staff James A. Baker III and Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman.
Edwin L. Harper, Stockman's deputy, said at a meeting with reporters yesterday that, while the review board can be considered "in one way symbolic," it has been set up because "the president doesn't want the budget process back-doored."
The new review board must approve any executive branch decision to spend money not considered specifically during budget preparation.
"For example," an OMB spokesman said, "if Agriculture says we've got to send food to Poland and we've got the money to do it, in the old days they would just do it. Now they have to come to the board."
So much for the executive branch. In Congress, Harper said, the first seven appropriations bills in various stages in the House are "$55 billlion over the budget. We cannot allow the gains in reconciliation to be eroded away." A spokesman said later that the $5 billion figure was a two-year total.
What really has happened, the spokseman said, is that "The president has joined the battle on the appropriations bills, jsut as he did on the budget itself."
The offending appropriations bills are for Agriculture, Treasury and the U.S. Postal Service, Interior and related agencies, Housing and Urban Development and independent agencies, Energy and water projects, State, Commerce and Justice and Transportation and related agencies.