Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) said yesterday that the administration's proposed $13 billion cut in military spending increases over the next three years may be insufficient to hold the government's 1982 deficit in check and balance the federal budget by 1984, as President Reagan intends.
"I . . . believe that a majority of my committee and a majority of the Congress are looking for larger cuts than that" in defense spending increases, Domenici said on "Face the Nation" (CBS, WDVM).
He said Congress is eyeing the kind of military budget trimming--a total $30 billion reduction in military spending by 1984--originally proposed by Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman.
Stockman's failure to win the larger cuts was seen as a bureaucratic victory for Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, who now must live with a less painful White House plan to accommodate with $2 billion in cuts in 1982, $5 billion in 1983, and $6 billion in 1984 the administration's effort to increase defense spending.
Referring to the $2 billion reduction in defense budget increases for 1982, Reagan said "defense has been the poor relative" in federal spending. Speaking to reporters on his return from a weekend at the Camp David, Md., retreat yesterday, Reagan said the $2 billion "is all that could be asked when you stop to think that domestically we're cutting a budget that has been overgrown . . . ."
Domenici said Congress might go along with the $2 billion in cuts for the next fiscal year. But he said the administration will have difficulty holding to the $42.5 billion deficit it has set for 1982 if it tries to stick to its $13 billion plan.
"I feel that the overall cuts in defense should be in the neighborhood of $30 billion," Domenici said, adding that the larger cuts should be made only if the Pentagon fails to persuade Congress that further reductions would harm national defense. He said Defense Department officials will get that chance whenever they are ready to show Congress their five-year plan for U.S. military development.
"If the Department of Defense convinces Congress that everything in its five-year plan is necessary, if that's the case, then we'll certainly have to take another look at many other programs of the federal government in order to achieve the reductions that we're talking about," Domenici said.
Looking at other programs may mean holding the growth of spending for Social Security and other federal entitlement programs below the national inflation rate over the next three years, the budget chairman said. CAPTION: Picture, Sen. Pete V. Domenici...Hill is eyeing $30 billion cut.