Budget chief: only one more chance to cut budget - if Reagan wins in '84
Washington — After the coming presidential election, the Reagan administration hopes to launch one more attack on domestic spending in a bid to cut the federal deficit. But even a reelection mandate will provide only a short period in which action is possible.
That is the view of David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, who yesterday made a rare public appearance at a United States Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
''We only have one more chance and that is the first six months of 1985,'' due to political contraints on major budget-cutting, Mr. Stockman said. And because the easiest programs to cut already have been trimmed, ''that means 1985 will be that much tougher and we will have to apply all that we have learned - and a few things that we have not yet discovered.''
Meanwhile, Capitol Hill is once again wrestling with the need to boost the government's debt ceiling to deal with the effects of past government deficits. Congress has boosted the allowable amount of debt 22 times in the past decade.
The United States is slated to pierce the current debt ceiling of $1.49 trillion today. Without congressional action, the government will be unable to pay all of its obligations when they fall due - including social security checks , payroll checks, and principal and interest on government securities.
On Tuesday the House overwhelmingly rejected a measure to boost the ceiling by $30 billion to $1.52 trillion. That would have kept the government financially afloat until June 22 while differences are ironed out for House-Senate deficit-reduction packages.
The plan went down to defeat in the House 263 to 150 when Democrats refused to support the measure unless it got more than token support from Republicans. President Reagan's Treasury Department had requested a debt-ceiling increase, but only 46 Republicans voted in favor of the politically sensitive measure while 115 voted against.
The Senate was expected to debate a different debt-extension bill yesterday. The Senate plan, which is expected to pass, boosts the debt ceiling to $1.75 trillion, enough to last through June 1985.
By day's end, when Congress is scheduled to begin its Memorial Day recess, the House also will pass a debt bill if additional Republican votes are forthcoming, a Ways and Means Committee source predicts. A conference committee will then be held to hammer out differences between the two debt-ceiling bills.
House sources say that Senate leaders are willing to go ahead with the House's shorter extension.
Yesterday Mr. Stockman refused to speculate about the possibility of raising taxes next year to trim the deficit.
But President Reagan, at his news conference Tuesday, said he may review the tax structure ''if we get to the absolute bottom of where we can get government spending. . . .''