Because of an editing error, Louisiana Democratic representatives' votes were listed incorrectly yesterday in a report about how a coalition familiar to President Reagan helped keep the tax overhaul bill from reaching a House vote. Five of them voted against consideration; one voted in favor.
The coalition of Republicans and southern Democrats that rebuffed President Reagan and the Democratic leadership on the tax bill in the House yesterday looked very much like the alliance that helped launch the president's fiscal revolution at the start of his presidency.
"His natural allies, by 12 to 1, voted 'no,' " said Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), one of the architects of the vote against the president and the Democratic leadership. "And his natural enemies voted 'yes.' "
In the past, said Rep. Dick Cheney (Wyo.), chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, Reagan's winning strategy "has been to go to his core support among Republicans and build [among conservative Democrats] on that. This strategy was the opposite."
Yesterday, it was once again "the Republicans and the Boll Weevils," as Rep. James R. Jones (D-Okla.), put it, referring to the conservative Democrats who regularly joined the GOP to help Reagan during 1981 and 1982.
The result was one of the most stinging rejections Reagan has suffered in Congress, with 164 Republicans joining 59 Democrats to block the House from beginning debate on the tax bill.
Bill Cable, a Washington lobbyist who was part of President Jimmy Carter's legislative lobbying team, said he could not remember a time when Carter, who lost his share of fights with Congress, won only 14 Democratic votes.
Cheney said Reagan and Treasury Department officials made what he considered a fatal mistake by "deciding not to work with House Republicans, particularly Ways and Means Committee Republicans," in shaping the legislation.
Such members as Gingrich and Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) were even more outspoken.
The administration "made a gamble that in terms of the geometry of politics was highly unlikely," Gingrich said. "The secretary of the treasury [James A. Baker III] decided to make an alliance with a Chicago Democrat House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski , in effect pitting the president of the United States against the very people who gave him a 49-state victory."
Not only did Reagan run headlong into his own core constituency in the House, but the tax-revision bill itself also is opposed by many of the private interests who pulled out the stops in 1981 to help pass the cornerstones of Reagan's economic program: the $750 billion tax cut and the first round of budget cuts.
Aligned against Reagan and House Democratic leaders on the tax bill are such groups as the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and an ad hoc alliance of companies involved in heavy industry.
Five years ago, these groups mobilized to help crush the Democratic tax bill that bore Rostenkowski's signature and to enact Reagan's alternative, 238 to 195.
Yesterday, with Reagan and Rostenkowski working together, Democrats from oil states in the South and Southwest again joined a majority of Republicans to send a message.
In Louisiana, for example, five Democrats voted for and one against taking up the bill, and in Oklahoma, the Democratic margin was 4 to 1.
In Texas, Democrats voted, 9 to 6, in favor of considering the tax bill, but eight of the nine members who voted for the rule, which set terms for debate on the bill, are expected to vote against the measure. All 13 Republicans from these states voted against consideration of the bill.
The 223 votes against the rule included a combination of Democratic representatives of districts with large numbers of state and federal employes, whose unions objected to increased taxes on employe pensions, and by Democrats representing districts with heavy industry or timber, both of which faced loss of special breaks.