IN THE SEPT. 17 CHART SHOWING THE POSITIONS DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES HAD EXPRESSED ON VARIOUS FISCAL ISSUES, SEN. ALBERT GORE JR. (D-TENN.) WAS SHOWN AS A SUPPORTER OF THE BALANCED- BUDGET AMENDMENT. GORE SAID IN HIS RESPONSE TO THE ROOSEVELT CENTER QUESTIONNAIRE THAT HE SUPPORTS "A VERSION OF THE BALANCED-BUDGET AMENDMENT WHICH NOT ONLY REQUIRES CONGRESS TO ENACT A BALANCED BUDGET BUT ALSO REQUIRES THE PRESIDENT TO SUBMIT ONE. ANY BALANCED-BUDGET AMENDMENT SHOULD ALSO BE FLEXIBLE ENOUGH TO ADAPT TO NATIONAL EMERGENCIES DURING WHICH UNANTICIPATED EXPENDITURES MIGHT BECOME NECESSARY." (Published 9/19/87)

Sen. Paul Simon (Ill.), often described as one of the most liberal contenders in the 1988 presidential race, is the only Democratic aspirant who supports the balanced-budget amendment and line-item veto and says Congress should meet the original Gramm-Rudman-Hollings target of eliminating the federal deficit by 1991.

Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (Tenn.) also favors the balanced-budget amendment strongly advocated by President Reagan. Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis and former Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt support giving the president power to veto individual items in appropriation bills -- another budget-process change urged by Reagan. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) favors a two-year trial of the line-item veto. No one but Simon favors the original 1991 balanced-budget target.

These views emerge from answers the eight active and prospective Democratic contenders submitted to a questionnaire from the Roosevelt Center for American Policy Studies, a Washington think tank, which is sponsoring with other groups a project called "US 88: A New Road to the White House." The candidates were asked to respond to specific fiscal policy questions and suggestions framed by grass-roots assemblies in Iowa and New Hampshire.

While some of the Democrats gave vague answers, reminiscent of campaign speeches, to several questions, almost all of them went beyond their standard rhetoric in answering certain specific issues. The Roosevelt Center sent identical questions to the announced and potential Republican candidates, but Lawrence N. Hansen, the director of US 88, said Rep. Jack Kemp (N.Y.) was the only one who had filed his answers by last Friday's deadline. Hansen said he expected other Republican responses and would make them public when they arrived.

The accompanying chart summarizes the Democrats' answers to the key questions. Dashes indicate either that they did not answer the question or gave such a qualified response it was impossible to categorize.

Simon, who described himself as "a pay-as-you-go Democrat," said that under "normal circumstances" he would favor neither the balanced-budget amendment nor the line-item veto. "However," he said, "Congress and the president have shown a dangerous willingness to endure high deficits. This has resulted in a massive redistribution of wealth through interest payments from middle-income taxpayers to high-income bondholders."

As for the deficit targets, Simon said, "I believe we should reach {those} established under Gramm-Rudman-Hollings. However . . . more important than reaching any arbitrary targets, Congress should work for steady reduction in the deficit -- on the order of $35 to $45 billion each year."

The 1991 deadline was challenged by several of the other Democrats. Biden said "it would be economically disastrous to attempt to balance the budget by 1991" and proposed shifting the target date back to 1993. Dukakis said "a precisely balanced budget in 1991 could come about only by triggering a serious recession -- perhaps worldwide." Babbitt said the 1991 deficit target "will depend entirely on the state of the budget and the economy that the next president inherits."

Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.), who played a key role in shaping the final version of the "automatic" deficit-reduction law adopted by Congress in 1985, said he supports "deficit-reduction goals," but "as president, I would not adopt the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings approach. I would set a $30-$40 billion deficit reduction goal per year," but keep it "flexible enough to meet the economic, social and military needs of our country."

Gore, who voted for Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, said it was "a reasonable attempt in 1985 to address the growing deficit," but now believes "it is time to return to the basics . . . strong presidential leadership, congressional restraint and tough priority-setting. I would not propose an arbitrary deficit target as envisioned in Gramm-Rudman-Hollings."

Jesse L. Jackson said that "while I strongly support the goal of lowering our budget deficit, I do not believe in setting rigid, fixed targets far in advance. Meeting the challenge of changing domestic and international financial conditions requires more flexibility . . . . I do not believe the most important decisions of government -- our budget priorities -- should be put on automatic pilot."

Rep. Patricia Schroeder (Colo.), who is weighing a possible candidacy, said she had opposed Gramm-Rudman-Hollings in 1985 and it was "impossible to say" what the 1991 deficit target should be.

All the Democrats except Gore and Dukakis saw the need for revenue increases. Gore said, "I am not proposing any additional taxes," and Dukakis said that while "no serious presidential candidate can rule out new taxes . . . we should first collect the taxes that are already due" by a tougher enforcement effort.

All the Democrats said no to cuts in Social Security or Medicare and all but Gore supported cuts in the defense budget. Gore said he would see that defense funds "are efficiently spent" but did not specifically pledge to reduce overall defense spending.

Dukakis told the Roosevelt Center he thinks "it is both possible and desirable to achieve significant reductions in overall military spending, without adversely affecting our preparedness or national security." At another point, he said "our ability to reduce military spending, particularly on nuclear weapons, will depend at least in part on the willingness of the Soviet Union" to agree to deep mutual reductions," and treaties banning tests of nuclear devices and missiles.

In an interview with The Washington Post on Aug. 28, Dukakis said that in order to deal with the budget deficit "any administration, no matter what it is, which enters office in January of 1989 is, at the very least, going to have to stabilize defense expenditures . . . at about the present level." However, he added, "whether there can be significant cuts in real terms I think really depends on the progress of negotiations" with the Soviet Union, about which he expressed great optimism.

Asked to resolve the seeming contradiction, Dukakis said in a telephone Tuesday that "stabilizing the defense budget will require very tough choices, which I'm prepared to make . . . . If a new administration is serious about substantial cuts below current levels, I don't believe it will be able to do that without success in negotiations."