House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) said yesterday that Congress will pass the $76 billion compromise plan to reduce the federal deficit only if President Reagan persuades congressional Republicans to support it.
"It'll have to have votes on both sides of the aisle," Wright said yesterday on NBC News' "Meet the Press." "We probably cannot pass it all by ourselves. I believe . . . we will produce a majority of Democratic votes for it in the House, but it's going to have to have some support on the Republican side as well."
Reagan said Friday that White House and congressional budget negotiators had worked out a plan that cuts the deficit by $30 billion in the current fiscal year and by $46 billion in fiscal 1989 through budget cuts, $9 billion in increased taxes, increased fees for some government services and the sale of some government assets.
The budget summit was convened after the stock market plunged Oct. 19.
But the plan has elements that displease both sides: Most Republicans dislike its defense cuts and increased taxes, while Democrats generally would prefer to see fewer cuts in domestic spending. The plan, if approved, would replace the $23 billion in Gramm-Rudman-Hollings budget cuts that went into effect over the weekend.
Asked whether Congress will pass the plan, Wright replied, "That's probably dependent upon the degree of support that it gets from the president and his political party."
He added that with White House support, the plan will be approved: "Yes. Absolutely. . . . That's my judgment."
House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) said on ABC News' "This Week With David Brinkley" that persuading Republicans to support the plan is likely to be difficult because of their past opposition to tax increases.
"It is not going to be easy. And we are just going to be starting the selling process," he said. But Michel promised to work for the plan. "I have got to stick with what we have got as a bare-bones minimum," Michel said.
The budget plan calls for $9 billion in unspecified new taxes in fiscal 1988 and $14 billion next year.
Wright said the taxes would be similar to those spelled out in separate tax-increase bills that the House passed and the Senate Finance Committee approved last month.
Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and one of the budget summit negotiators, said Congress probably would work within the framework of the tax-increase bills. Appearing with Michel on "This Week With David Brinkley," Rostenkowski called the package a "baby step in the right direction. . . . "
White House chief of staff Howard H. Baker Jr. acknowledged on ABC that the prospect of raising taxes by $9 billion is awkward near the election because many Republican candidates are pledging to fight higher taxes.
But he indicated that Reagan is prepared to support new taxes.
Baker noted that the budget submitted the president this year included "about $22 billion in revenue . . . and, oh, about $8 billion of that by any other name would be a misnomer. It was taxes . . . .
"The president is absolutely firm in his commitment that we will not start any new broad-based taxes. But I think he's shown a forthcoming spirit in agreeing to this package of revenues. And I think candidates for president ought to be similarly realistic," Baker said.
Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), appearing on CBS News' "Face the Nation," charged that the budget compromise "does not represent the kind of bold departure we needed to calm nerves on Wall Street, to bring the deficit down sharply, to bring interest rates down, to strengthen and sustain an economy that is now in the longest period of economic recovery in American history."
Gramm said he expects efforts in the Senate to amend the plan to reduce the deficit. "We are going to offer amendments to amend discriminatory spending, defense and nondefense alike, at last year's level," he said.