President Reagan is running ahead of his timetable for moving his economic program forward. White House sources told the Monitor Monday morning, March 16, that:
* The Reagan momentum, picked up during the campaign and carried into the start of the administration, is continuing to grow.
This is perceived in the Senate's decision to work long days and late into the evenings to move the package along; the nonappearance of any real obstructionism in the House toward the program; and the apparent growth of grass-roots support for the President and his efforts to deal with the economy.
* Mr. Reagan's expectation now is that congressional implementation of his program will be fast enough to cause it to have a positive effect on the economy by the start of the administration's second year.
"Actually," a White House source said, "the beneficial effect may be seen sooner than that -- as business leaders see the program moving toward being put into place, enough so that they begin to start to invest and make the economy move again."
* The President now is said to believe that before the end of his second year in office there will be a slowdown in the rate of inflation. Further, this source said, the voters would expect that.
"However," he added, "we only built up moderate expectations on the part of the public by what we promised during the campaign. So the public is going to be satisfied if we can bring about moderate, not great, changes. People know how difficult the President's job is. And they are going to be patient."
* The President is gaining in confidence now that he will be getting "substantially" what he has asked for, both in spending and tax cuts.
Whit House sources say that the Senate's willingness to give prime and full attention to the President's proposals has "put pressure" on the House to do likewise.
"Also," one White House aide says, "the Democratic members of the House obviously got the message when they went home at recess time.
"They heard what we are hearing: that the people, the Democrats as well as the Republicans, are enthusiastically behind the President in all this. And they now know -- if they didn't know before -- that they will be taking big political risks if they become obstructionists to his program."
* Finally, associates of the President now are saying that they see little sign that he will have to "get tough" to get his program through. One put it this way: "Some thought that by now the President would be forced to use the "bully pulpit" to persuade the public at large to help him get his program through Congress. But there simply hasn't been any need for Reagan to go over the heads of Congress to the American people. And he may never have to."
Another White House voice had this similar comment: "The President does hold some aces -- going to the people or using the veto or both -- but he hasn't had to even talk about them yet. It looks now as if he may never have to use them."