The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee accused President Reagan yesterday of lacking the "guts" to support the taxes necessary to save programs that Americans want.
Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) also said Republicans in Congress who agree with Reagan have essentially "walked off the job."
Rostenkowski, who delivered his party's weekly radio address, criticized the Republican opposition to a large tax increase. The split was reflected last week in a 23-to-13 party-line vote on a Ways and Means Committee $12.3 billion package of taxes largely aimed at upper-income Americans.
The bill is designed to raise revenues and mitigate the impact of $23 billion in mandatory deficit reduction required under budget-cutting legislation that goes into effect Nov. 20.
Republicans would rather have the automatic deficit-reduction measures take effect than be recorded in favor of tax increases, Rostenkowski asserted, a strategy he said would result in drastic and indiscriminate cuts in health, education and defense programs.
"They have refused to come forward with any plan to cut spending or raise revenues," he charged. "They have followed the president and walked off the job."
"This is a cyncial and dangerous strategy," he said. "Rather than working to meet their responsibilities they are sitting on the sidelines just hoping that we fail.
"We're not going to risk those programs just because the president doesn't have the guts to close loopholes or make large corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
"We don't like raising taxes any more than the president does. But economic reality dictates that taxes be a part of any real deficit reduction measure," Rostenkowski said.
The Ways and Means Committee program differs from the Senate Finance Committee version, but both are designed to provide enough revenue to reduce the need for automatic deficit reduction by half.