President Reagan made "a personal request" for bipartisan support yesterday in a last-ditch effort to salvage tax-revision legislation, but Democrats said that Reagan remains unable to deliver enough votes from his own party.
In his weekly radio address, Reagan did not mention that all but 14 House Republicans voted last week to block consideration of tax overhaul. Instead, he blamed "a parliamentary impasse" for thwarting "a breakthrough that can bring personal income tax rates down to the lowest level in over 50 years."
The president said that "this is one time politics must be put aside on both sides of the aisle." He made "a personal request to the House of Representatives," saying that if "Republicans and Democrats would agree to a format for considering this vote, I believe there would be sufficient bipartisan support for tax reform to pass."
But Rep. Robert T. Matsui (D-Calif.), in the Democratic response, laid the blame at the Republicans' doorstep. "The sad fact is, many Republicans in the House of Representatives don't want tax reform," said Matsui, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, whose tax bill was sidelined when Republicans rebelled against a rule to consider it without provisions for several GOP amendments.
"Only 14 Republican members of Congress . . . voted to even let tax reform be debated on the floor of the House," Matsui said. "The entire Republican leadership in the House of Representatives voted not to let tax reform be considered."
Matsui called it "a sad commentary to see so many Republican members of Congress deserting their own president." He said the Democratic bill would end "legalized tax evasion" by wealthy corporations and the 3,000 millionaires who he said paid no income tax last year.
Matsui said afterward that Reagan is trying to shift the blame for the collapse of his major domestic initiative this year and that House Republicans "realize they've been damaged politically" by the vote.
The Democrats say they will declare the tax bill dead Monday unless Reagan, who was reported to be calling House Republicans this weekend, comes up with at least 50 GOP votes for the bill. Matsui said the president is still far short and that the Democrats will not allow a spate of amendments to help timber, oil and other industries whose taxes would be raised.