House Republican leaders met with Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman for 80 minutes yesterday in the first of several meetings to explore the acceptability to the administration of fiscal 1983 budget options.
"There's no question but that we're exploring options" that might be in the "range of acceptability," House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) said after the session attended by Stockman, House GOP whips and Republican members of the Budget Committee.
Asked what such a range might be, Michel said, "That hasn't been clearly defined." He said he does not think that Congress will "depart all that much" from the "main thrust" of Reagan's budget but added that there would be "give and take."
Stockman, who did not rule out a possible $10 billion cut in military spending in testimony before the Budget Committee Wednesday, appeared to do so yesterday after the White House took a hard line on the issue. Asked if $10 billion could be cut, he said, "No."
Michel did not rule out modifications in the military buildup program, however, saying he wouldn't be surprised if Congress "makes its own imprint" on the defense budget.
Michel also questioned Reagan's assertion that the country may return to single-digit interest rates, saying he thought it was an "optimistic prediction." He also said he was increasingly less optimistic that economic recovery would begin as early as this spring. Stockman, on the other hand, said there was "no change" in the administration's anticipation of a spring recovery.