Reagan sounds the themes for GOP in '84
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Others, too, warn that, if not checked, this trend will continue to act as a drag on the United States economy. Jerry J. Jasinowski, chief economist of the National Association of Manufacturers, says if the American economy continues to lag in the trade area, economic growth in 1984 could be cut by as much as 1 percent.Skip to next paragraph
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This is why Reagan and his aides now talk of the importance of attacking the ballooning budget deficit and reducing high interest rates. Still, whatever the importunings of Reagan's economic adviser, Martin S. Feldstein, to do something this year, the administration remains firm against any action in 1984 because of the political constraints in an election year. It insists it will seek to reduce the deficits through spending cuts, not tax increases - which Reagan maintains would hurt the economy more than the deficits - and it blames Congress for the deficit problem.
In political terms, however, the President appears to confront more of a challenge on the diplomatic than the economic front. Foreign policy looms as a potential vulnerability in November.
A new Washington Post/ABC poll shows a decline in public support for Reagan's policies, especially in the Middle East and Central America. According to the poll, 50 percent of Americans now give the President a negative rating for his handling of foreign affairs. About 60 percent think the US does not have clear goals for the US Marines in Lebanon, 58 percent would like to see the troops removed, and 60 percent say the US is trying to do too much with its military overseas. At the same time, those polled were equally divided on whether the US today is more secure internationally than when Reagan took office.
As he prepares for the election year, the President will try to persuade Americans that the US position has improved over three years ago, when the the nation's defenses had ''grown weak,'' US influence was ''shrinking,'' and the Soviets were throwing their weight around. Citing his foreign policy moves, the President says that the invasion of Grenada ''set a nation free,'' there has been progress in Lebanon, however slow, and the US is now strong enough to negotiate an arms reduction agreement with the Russians.
While critics take issue with such assertions, there is a feeling here that public opinion at home and abroad is forcing Reagan to seek better relations with the Soviet Union.
And, while the recent meeting between Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in Stockholm did not produce any concrete results, it is viewed as having opened the door to an improvement in the months ahead. The enhanced prospects for renewal of the East-West talks on mutual and balanced conventional force reductions in Europe and the further easing of US sanctions on Poland are positive straws in the wind, say foreign policy experts.
The President, at any rate, continues to hold out hope for an arms control agreement and progress in the international arena.