Reagan to wage TV blitz if Congress balks at tax plan
Washington — President Reagan is already preparing a contingency plan for forcing his economic program through Congress -- Bill Brock, former Republican national chairman and currently special trade representative for the President, says that if the carrot doesn't get the job done, the Reagan administration will resort to "raw power."
Other White House sources have told the Monitor the alternative course Mr. Reagan is prepared to follow if Congress -- more predictably, the Democrats in the House of Representatives -- becomes obstructionist include the following:
* The President will go on television and appeal direction to the American public to apply pressure on Congress to support his economic proposals.
* He will use vetoes to dramatize to the public that it is, indeed, Congress that is keeping him from fulfilling his promise to turn the economy around.
Mr. Brock, talking to reporters over breakfast March 4, said that he expects Congress, including the Democratic majority in the House, to be cooperative in dealing with the Reagan economic program.
"But," he added, "if the House Democrats aren't willing to bite the bullet, as we expect the senators to do, then the battleground will be the elections of 1982. And I'll bet in that case the Republicans will take over the House that year."
Further, at least at this point, the President seems positioned to start to "play hard ball," as one aide described the plan, unless Congress accepts almost all of his spending cut and tax package.
Would this mean a veto if Congress, as now seems likely, only gives him the first-year tax reduction -- instead of the Reagan request for three annual increments?
"The President's commitment is absolute" on getting his full three-year tax, says Brock. Thus, brock hinted quite strongly, the President is ready to apply a veto on tax legislation that only applies to a single year.
When pushed by reporters on this possible veto, Brock reemphasized: "The administration is totally committed to its tax plan."
The Reagan White House is in no way foreseeing anything except success in getting its economic program put into place by Congress. It is encouraged by the President's high standing in public-opinion polls and the fine grades the American people are giving him for "leadership."
But the President does have this "raw power" plan, if needed. "The veto," Brock says, "is our ultimate fallback. But I don't think we'll need it."
Brock asserted that President Reagan has "four years" to "turn the economy around."
But he says that there must be "some signs soon" that the Reagan approach to the economy is beginning to work.
Brock adds that the public expects the President, through the quality of leadership, to be able to get Congress to go along with his proposals.
That is why, he contends, the public simply won't put up with any obstructionism on the part of Congress to Reagan initiatives relating to cutting taxes and spending.
But as opposition to the President's program begins to mount -- from Democrats and special interest groups -- the Reagan team is putting this alternative, get tough plan into place.
As one administration official puts it: "We'll be prepared to give it to them if this thing turns nasty. The important thing is they get the message -- that they are in for a real battle if they push us too hard."