House Budget Committee Chairman James R. Jones (D-Okla.) predicted yesterday that this year's federal deficit could reach $100 billion--more than double the administration's official forecast--even if President Reagan gets all he wants in the way of tax increases and spending cuts.
Without a recession, economic forecasters say that "slow to moderate growth in line with announced monetary policy targets" will produce a deficit of $70 billion, Jones told a seminar sponsored by the American Stock Exchange. "Obviously," he added, "if we really are in a recession, as the president says we are, the 1982 deficit will be far higher--in the $80 billion to $100 billion range."
Jones' forecast came as the Senate, in its first consideration of a money bill since Reagan proposed new budget cuts last month, moved toward approval of a $7.6 billion Interior Department appropriation that exceeds Reagan's new targets by about $1 billion.
To help meet Reagan's goals, Sen. James A. McClure (R-Idaho), chairman of the Interior appropriations subcommittee, is proposing cuts of $165 million. But those cuts fall far short of what would be needed to reach the 12 percent across-the-board saving that Reagan proposed for non-defense appropriations bills.
Not even the Senate Republican majority proposed cuts deep enough to approach Reagan's figures in what appears to be a mounting effort to bypass heavy cuts in fiscal 1982 in favor of promissory notes for big cuts in 1983 and 1984.
Among the proposals that Senate Republicans will take to the White House later this week is a tentative plan advanced by Finance Committee members for $50 billion to $70 billion in tax increases over the next three years, mostly in 1983 and 1984, according to GOP sources.
This would produce about half the $115 billion in budget savings and new revenues that Reagan wants by 1984 and that Republican congressional leaders have pledged to try to give him. But the plan hinges on Reagan's approval, which would require backpedaling from the administration's strategy of pushing for economic revival through tax cuts rather than tax increases.
The push for tax increases gained momentum yesterday as Senate Finance Committee Chairman Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) said he anticipates tax hikes during fiscal 1982, and Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.) backed off an earlier assertion that there would be no tax increases during 1982.
Baker qualified the statement he had made in a televised interview Sunday by saying that tax increases may be voted during the year although they probably would not yield much revenue until future years.
Baker also said he thought Congress could come "close" to Reagan's goal of $16 billion in spending cuts and revenue increases for 1982 by moving ahead with cuts in benefit entitlement programs as well as appropriations reductions.
But House Republicans have repeatedly balked at the idea of tax increases or entitlement cuts during fiscal 1982, leaving the appearance of disarray within the president's party in Congress.
"Since the Republicans cannot reach any agreement about these new cuts and tax increases," Democrat Jones noted in his speech, "prudent budget planning suggests we not count these savings before they are hatched."
Without counting the new savings--and without regard to a recession's impact on spending and revenues--a three-year cumulative deficit exceeding $300 billion is likely, Jones said. This would include a $120 billion deficit in 1984, which is the year that Reagan wants to produce a balanced budget, Jones noted.
Rep. Joseph P. Addabbo (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, came up with a way the administration can save more money--but not the way it wants. Opening the subcommittee's work on the administration's huge Pentagon spending bill of 1982, Addabbo proposed $11.2 billion in cuts, more than five times what Reagan wants. Among the economies Addabbo sought were elimination of the B1 bomber and MX missile programs that Reagan proposed last month. Addabbo said he was proposing reductions in programs that are "marginal or not needed" in the administration's $200 billion defense money bill.