Senate Republican leaders warned top White House officials yesterday not to count on further big budget cuts this year and to concentrate instead on meeting the administration's budget targets in 1983 and 1984.
The warning came as Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.) outlined his plan for doubling President Reagan's proposed $2 billion defense savings for fiscal 1982 by substituting or canceling nine weapons programs, reducing civilian Pentagon jobs by 6 percent and cutting consulting contracts by 15 percent.
Hatfield would include the $4.07 billion in defense cuts in $5 billion to $6 billion of appropriations cuts he says his committee is willing to make this year.
This would mean $1 billion to $2 billion in cuts from domestic programs in contrast to the $8.4 billion in domestic spending cuts that Reagan has proposed.
Among possible targets cited by Hatfield were the AH64 attack helicopter, the SOTAS radar system, the payroll of 1,500 civilian and public information specialists, 480 museum curators and historians, 2,000 legislative liaison officials, and 1,605 recreation specialists and sports technicians.
Hatfield's proposals are not expected to be the last word on defense cuts, however. A Senate Republican leadership source said a cut of $3 billion is more likely.
In urging the administration to look beyond this fiscal year to 1983 and 1984, the senators were plainly trying to avoid a potentially bloody clash between the president and Congress--including the Republican-controlled Senate--over a second round of heavy budget cuts this year.
"There's a growing, developing consensus that we do support $100 billion in cuts over three years," said Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.) after a luncheon strategy session with White House chief of staff James A. Baker III, Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman and key Senate committee chairmen.
But he said there was no agreement on how the savings would be spread over the three years. Other sources said the fiscal 1982 savings might amount to no more than $5 billion to $6 billion, about one-third of the $16 billion in spending cuts and new revenues that Reagan proposed last month for this fiscal year.
One problem is that revenue increases and entitlement cuts would probably not occur until at least the mid-point of the fiscal year, meaning less in the way of actual saving for fiscal 1982, which runs through Sept. 30.
But the Senate Finance Committee is discussing revenue proposals beyond what Reagan has proposed, including excise tax increases on such items as cigarettes and alcoholic beverages and a possible curtailment of the consumer tax credit on items other than autos and home mortgages, that could balloon revenues in future years.
There is serious talk of a package of proposals that could produce at least $20 billion in added revenues by 1984, roughly double the $11 billion that Reagan has proposed.
The Senate Budget Committee is considering raising revenue targets to accommodate selective tax increases in the second budget resolution that Congress is expected to adopt in the next few weeks.
This, however, does not assure passage of the tax increases, which could be especially difficult next year as congressional elections approach.
After the strategy session with the Reagan aides, Majority Leader Baker said, "We moved a long distance toward a workable plan. For the first time, I feel we're pulling together."
But others said the administration group was largely noncommittal, and a White House official said: "There remains an urgent problem from the interest rate point of view of keeping the deficit under $60 billion."
Further Senate-White House consultations are planned over the weekend before Baker announces a formal Senate leadership plan for budget cuts on Monday, aides said.