Lower interest rates: a political move by Fed?

By , Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Democratic National Chairman Charles Manatt didn't quite say it. But he was hinting broadly that the Federal Reserve Board's recent moves to lower interest rates were aimed at bolstering Republican prospects in the fall.

But would Fed chairman Paul A. Volcker, a Carter appointee, be likely to help bolster Mr. Reagan and the Republicans?

Mr. Manatt said he wouldn't know about that. But he was convinced, he said, that the Fed's move had been political, not at all connected with what he saw as the realities - business failures, high unemployment, distress among the farmers , etc. He said that the Fed's ''aggressive action'' has come at just the right moment to help Republicans - in August before the November election. Manatt also said that because the economy remained in a recession the Fed would probably have to make an adjustment later. He implied that this might come right after the election.

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Manatt, in a post-breakfast interview, spoke of his overall goals and problems.

He said he is modeling himself after the outstanding party chiefs that have gone before him.

''I'd like to be the communicator that Bob Strauss was - and provide the inspiration that came from Larry O'Brien. And I'm an admirer of the mechanical skills of the Republican national chairmen, Ray Bliss and Bill Brock.''

Manatt said he will feel he has made his mark if by the end of his stay in his job he will have welded the state parties close together with the national organization.

He said that after only a year and a half in office he sees signs of this coming about, particularly in the way the Washington and state staffs have been working together in an effort to elect Democratic governors.

What are the chief problems today facing both parties?

The single-issue people are a big problem, like those pushing for prayer in the schools, or the like. They are bringing about a fragmentation of the parties. And they show a lack of balance in concern for the common good.

Also apathy is hurting the parties. But I must say I've seen increased public interest in the political processes this year - bigger crowds as fund-raisers, etc., than we had in either 1980 or 1978.

But the parties are also hurt by the media, particularly TV. A lot of people get their information from the evening news instead of from letters or papers from their party. This means we are less influential in reaching and influencing the voter.

What is the chief problem of the Democratic Party today?

To restore the confidence of the American people that we can effectively lead and govern.

Back at the breakfast the back and forth centered on the coming elections.

What is the central issue in the upcoming campaign?

The fairness issue and mismanagement of the economy.

Will this vote be a referendum on Reagan?

Yes, on his economic policies. But not on Reagan the man.

Do you really think the Republicans are trying to buy the election?

Of course. They will be spending $130 million to $140 million. The Democrats will be spending $27 million. It has been estimated that this kind of spending will win about 12 congressional seats for the Republicans that they would have lost had the spending been more equal.

What do you think of the effort to pass a balanced-budget amendment?

It is not particularly responsible. It is a sham on the President's part. First, he brings about this huge deficit and then says we should make this impossible in the future.

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