WASHINGTON — In a glum assessment of national economic conditions, Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that because of congressional concern about trade issues and the budget deficit, the chances of enacting any tax changes are "very slim" this year and "fatter, but not robust" for 1986.
At a breakfast session with reporters and editors of The Times' Washington Bureau, Wilson said he could detect "no great groundswell" of support for tax revision, one of President Reagan's top domestic priorities.
"My constituents, and I think most peoples', are far more concerned about both the (budget) deficit and the trade deficit than they are about tax reform," he said.
'Haven't Completed the Job'
Part of that lack of enthusiasm stems, he said, from "a very strong feeling in the Senate that we haven't completed the job . . . if we are both to avert an increase in interest rates and, at the very least, if we are to do anything about the trade deficit."
Similarly, Wilson recalled telling Reagan at a White House meeting a few months ago: "Mr. President, even you, the Great Communicator, have only so much time, so much energy, so many chits to call in and to spend, and don't spend them on tax reform, because we haven't finished the job (of deficit reduction) yet."
But he said Reagan replied: " 'There's no reason that we can't talk about both in the same speech.' "
Wilson became a prominent figure in the budget debate last May when he left his hospital bed to cast a key vote for a budget deficit reduction plan, supported by Senate Republicans, that would freeze Social Security cost-of-living allowances. He acknowledged that some of his GOP colleagues still harbor "bruised feelings" at Reagan's decision to ultimately back away from the controversial idea, leaving the Republican senators to take the political heat.
New GOP Measure
As evidence of the GOP's continued concern over the record budget deficit, Wilson cited the introduction Tuesday of a new deficit-reduction measure co-sponsored by Sens. Warren H. Rudman of Vermont and Phil Gramm of Texas, both Republicans. The bill sets out a plan for cutting the annual deficit to zero by 1990 and provides for automatic cuts in spending for any year that the projected deficit exceeds the limits called for in the legislation.
Wilson pronounced himself "delighted" with Reagan's speech Monday, in which the President outlined his strategy for reducing the nation's trade deficit, also a record.