President Reagan professes to be delighted with the kibitzing from Capitol Hill Republicans, although as the "alternatives" pour in, he may occasionally be tempted to ask just who won the election.
Counting the suggestions, it seems as if some nervous Republicans feel that his failure to win Minnesota and make it a 50-state sweep has somehow invalidated the November results.
Senate Republicans are busy drawing up their own budget.
Now the House Republicans, through a body pretentiously called "The Committee for the First Hundred Days," have weighed in with unsolicited advice on a host of issues.
If Reagan reads the 63-page booklet released yesterday, he may decide to sue for plagiarism. Although entitled "Ideas for Tomorrow, Choices for Today," it is nothing more than a compendium of the ideas that won him his landslide.
What it expresses most eloquently, without saying so, is the aching need of House members to be, as Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) says, "relevant." The Senate, under the vocal leadership of Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), is showing signs of grabbing all the glory.
Just as the Senate budget may reflect Dole's presidential aspirations, the document of the House Republican Research Committee has the marks of a platform for the House's front-running presidential candidate, who, of course, is Kemp.
The supply-side tax-cutter and tax-reformer is the favorite of the right-wing to succeed Reagan. Their dream ticket is the former Buffalo Bills quarterback and Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, a nominal Democrat who captured the Republican National Convention by excoriating the "Blame-America-First" style of her party.
Kemp is on a publicity roll. He was the subject of a respectful profile in the neoliberal Washington Monthly and of a long story on public television, in which he was compared with his fellow tax-simplifier and athlete, Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.).
Kemp's advocacy of a return to the gold standard is just one of the things that endears him to Tories. They consider his credentials impeccable. He worked briefly as an intern for Reagan when the latter was governor of California. They have fallen out only once, over the 1983 tax increase, but at the Republican convention, where "Kemp in '88" signs outnumbered all others, there was no indication of bad feelings.
Kemp is moving down the field at a considerable rate, and at the news conference on the "new ideas" document he was much in demand. After listening to House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), chairman of the Republican Research Committee, a reporter called out, "Can't we have Mr. Kemp?"
Kemp stepped forward and announced that he had every hope of the president coming up with a State of the Union address that "would attract the center right of the Republicans and the center left of the Democrats."
Actually, the president could find no cause for resentment in this latest "help" from Capitol Hill. Basically, it tells him to go on doing what he has been doing. It is the 1984 GOP platform, with references to school prayer and abortion left out so as, Lewis said, to avoid "flash points."
In what may be a move to preempt what is expected to be a more liberal blueprint from the Senate, the House Republicans' document gives Reagan a pat on the back. Their "new idea" of coping with the deficit is Reagan's old idea of passing a balanced-budget amendment. Like him, they are unwilling to cut the defense budget, and they favor deployment of the MX missile, production of more B1 bombers and pressing on with antisatellite weapons.
Kemp, like Reagan, thinks economic growth is the answer to the deficits. It has become GOP doctrine that brooding about red ink is un-American. Kemp is resolutely upbeat about the gap between income and output. Michel spoke disapprovingly of those who are "obsessed" with the deficit, as Dole seems to be.
What Kemp has contributed may be the copious references to Democrats. Like Reagan, he believes in co-opting the opposition. The introduction to the "new ideas" booklet refers to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The text cites John F. Kennedy with approval.
The Republicans' new idea for arms control is to avoid agreement "pending improvement in verification and introduction of a policy for ensuring Soviet compliance."
In other words, the Republicans should run Reagan again in 1988 in the person of Kemp, who is more than willing to carry the ball.