Compared to most members of the House, freshman Rep. Harold Washington (D-Ill.) has it made.
With no opponent in the primary and none in the general election, he has spent most of the congressional recess working on a drive to register 50,000 additional black voters in three south- and west-side districts. If the goal is reached, Washington may consider jumping into next winter's Democratic primary for mayor of Chicago.
He said that his 1st District constituents were worried about the "same problems as always--jobs and crimes and schools." Voting against the tax bill, as he did in August, "took no courage" and has stirred no fuss. President Reagan got 5 percent of the votes in the district, barely edging independent John B. Anderson.
"The only thing I hesitated about was that there was some good loophole-closing in the bill," but not enough "to justify the cuts in Medicare and Medicaid."
After chatting in the office, Washington and two aides went down to Gladys Luncheonette, a soul-food place at 45th and Indiana. It was midafternoon, but the place was filled--families with youngsters, retired folks, city employes.
Jerome Bridges, a retired cabdriver, said: "You know, I don't like this talk about cutting back the Social Security. We're not getting enough now to make it without odd-jobs . . . Yes, I know something's got to give to get the deficit down but I don't want it to be me."
Bridges was born in Georgia, 10 miles from Plains, and he wishes Jimmy Carter was still president.
"He understood. . . . These young folks don't stay in schools, and they can't find jobs, so they take what they need from you and me. Drugs are ruining this country and killing this generation. . . . "
A young man, Larry Meyers, says he was laid off in June from his job as a clerk in the Chicago Public Library because of budget cutbacks; his wife is a teacher's aide.
"People are suffering," he says, "because the criminals are taking it out on people like me. With the economy the way it is, they rob and stick up their neighbors, 'cause they got to feed themselves and their families some way. There was a stickup on the next block in broad daylight, not more than two hours ago."
"The school is so bad," his wife added. "Kids from the projects come without any training, and they don't care about education. The school our kids a boy in third grade and a girl in first go to had a fire Tuesday night. We're trying to get them in the Catholic schools, but they say they have no room."
Meyers says, "If we can't get them into Catholic school, we're gonna get the hell out of Chicago. The boy did real well last year, in his tests, but there are so many gangs there, just hanging around, they can't go on learning."
Bob Underwood, a city building inspector, added: "You ask me what is the problem, and I say Reagan is the problem. You cut out all those programs he wants to cut out, you are hurting people. . . . You ask me, people are starting to blame Congress and the Senate for going along with all these cuts. They know that without them, the president would be just a figurehead."
Then, with a broad wink at Washington, he said: "Now, nobody blames you, Harold. They know you didn't vote for those things." Then, with a broad wink at the reporter, he adds: "We blacks been scufflin' around for a long time, just to get on; now you white folks havin' to learn how."
Mrs. Ruth Simmons, who has worked as a secretary for the Board of Education for 15 years, noted: "They've cut off so many people from aid . . . . When the Democrats were in, at least they got some checks, and they could pay the rent."