WASHINGTON — IN the coming weeks, the White House will make a harder push to save its treasured spending programs and pass its own version of tax relief, says Alice Rivlin, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
At a Monitor breakfast yesterday, the budget director said that President Clinton may have given the impression that he is reacting rather than leading -- ''especially with his budget posture, by telling the Republicans 'you put your cards on the table, and we'll talk about compromises.' ''
''Our tax plan looks better and better, because it's smaller and more targeted,'' and emphasizes education along the line of the plan proposed by House majority leader Richard Gephardt this week, Ms. Rivlin asserted.
The White House will fight GOP efforts to afford the corporate and capital-gains tax reductions by slashing services to the nation's poor, she said.
States will have a tough time if Congress gives them the responsibility to finance welfare, medicaid, food stamps, and other programs that have been federally funded. Current laws requiring governors to balance their budgets leave the states unprepared for the consequences of an economic downturn.
''If you can't run a deficit during a recession, then you're forced to raise taxes and cut spending just at that moment.''
The GOP's proposal for states to build up a ''rainy day'' fund is good policy, Rivlin says, ''but it hasn't worked terribly well.'' If the economy is growing well and state coffers are in surplus, she says, then taxpayers demand an immediate benefit, in the form of tax cuts or more spending.