Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) appealed yesterday for President Reagan to intervene to rescue the stalemated deficit-reduction negotiations on Capitol Hill, saying Reagan could "put it together if he does it very quickly."
But Dole and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) expressed pessimism about the outlook, both in terms of an immediate agreement and the long-term prospects for making much of a dent in budget deficits.
Even if the Senate gets its way with deeper cuts than the House has proposed for the next three years, "we're still going to have $200 billion deficits as far as the eye can see," Dole said on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press."
Domenici told Mutual Radio that even a compromise between House and Senate negotiators would "not change policy on the domestic non-poverty front in any dramatic way," adding, "It will nickel-and-dime it, but it won't change it dramatically."
Dole and Domenici, who continue to resist tax increases as part of the fiscal 1986 budget in deference to Reagan's adamant opposition to raising taxes, nonetheless suggested that taxes might be part of the "ultimate equation," as Domenci put it.
Dole said he was prepared to ask Reagan to consider a tax increase, but only after major spending cuts. Deadlock on spending cuts should not trigger pressure for a tax increase, he said.
For now, Dole said, Reagan could help bolster the Senate's case for cutting $20 billion to $30 billion from domestic spending over three years to offset the Social Security freeze the House persuaded Reagan to abandon. "We want him to indicate this is it," Dole said.
The House last week offered $24 billion in three-year spending cuts, but Dole said it was "mostly smoke."
If the president swings behind a compromise that the Senate intends to offer this week, "then I think we should reach a showdown," Dole said. "This is it or not it. And if it's not going to happen, then we should say so and get on with our work."
Dole declined to say what the Senate would offer, but he gingerly put out a feeler to the House on both taxes and Social Security. Taxes and benefits programs such as Social Security, instead of being adjusted each year, could be adjusted every two years, Dole said. But then he added, "I don't see that happening."