Six of the 12 members of a bipartisan National Economic Commission that is charged with making a report on the budget and other national issues to President Reagan's successor this year were named yesterday by the Democratic congressional leadership.
House Speaker Jim Wright appointed Robert Strauss, former U.S. trade representative, Rep. William H. Gray III (D-Pa.) and Felix Rohatyn, partner with the investment firm Lazard Freres. Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) named Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee A. Iacocca and AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland.
A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) said that the six Republicans will probably be named within a week. Two each are to be designated by Reagan, House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) and by Dole.
The commission will then name one member chairman. Eventually, the president-elect will name one additional Republican and one Democrat following the November election.
The commission is to issue a final report no later than March 1, 1989. But Strauss said that the commission's goal will be to finish a draft of the report before a new president takes office.
"Those of us named today are not ideologues, and I am confident that will be also true of the Republicans named," Strauss said. "We are going to define an economic program that will be politically salable."
The idea for a wide-ranging bipartisan commission to deal with the enormous economic problems expected over the next decade was initiated by New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo (D), and sponsored in Congress by Dole and Moynihan.
Cuomo argued in congressional testimony that there is an urgent need for a bipartisan commission on politically difficult budget issues, modeled on the commission headed by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan that produced key changes overhauling the Social Security system in 1983.
Although the charter for the commission -- in the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987 -- calls for specific recommendations on ways of reducing the federal budget deficit while promoting economic growth, the commission is expected to range widely across the economic spectrum, touching on all related issues including Third World debt and volatile exchange rates.
In announcing his appointments, Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) said, "This commission is vital to our country's economic future. The quality of the people who will serve makes this a commission where ideology and political partisanship will be subordinated to the good of the country. I want the commission to look forward, not backward. We must meet the challenge to improve the economic health of the country."
Wright said the group's task will be "not a narrow path of budgetary accounting, but a broad program for growth, for development, for education, for competitiveness."