Budget director David A. Stockman said yesterday that the budget blueprint narrowly approved by the Senate last week faces an even more difficult battle in the House, but he said House Democrats cannot substantially alter the budget plan without raising taxes.
"It's going to be difficult in the House, because the special interests probably have even more clout, even more power there, than they do in the Senate," Stockman said on CBS-TV's "Face The Nation."
"But I think we've laid out a pretty clear marker," Stockman said, adding that the White House-Senate compromise proves "we can get a huge deficit reduction without raising taxes."
Stockman said the House Democratic leadership would be "reluctant" to consider the array of domestic spending cuts contained in the Senate-backed plan, but "they have no other alternative than to look at those reductions we've proposed or come right out and tell the American people that they would like to have a massive tax increase."
However, House Budget Committee Chairman William H. Gray III (D-Pa.) yesterday promised to produce a budget that cuts as much as the Senate version without raising taxes.
"You cannot pass a revenue bill without presidential support. If you look at the history of the Congress for the last two decades, that is obvious," Gray said.
"No tax revenue bill has ever been passsed when a president is playing Dirty Harry saying 'make my day,' " he added.
The savings can be achieved, according to Gray, even while restoring at least some of the Social Security cost-of-living increase that was eliminated in the Senate bill. But he refused to say whether the entire Social Security inflation increase would be restored.
"We're probably not going to do what the Senate did to senior citizens," Gray said. His committee is scheduled to begin budget deliberations Tuesday or Wednesday.
House Republicans agreed that a tax increase is unlikely.
Rep. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), the assistant minority leader, said the House would "absolutely not" consider a tax bill this year.
Rep. Dick Cheney (R-Wyo.), chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, said if the Democrats proposed a tax bill, his party "would oppose it strenuously."
Gray and Lott appeared on "Face the Nation." Cheney was interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press."