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Sen. Dole Calls on Reagan to Join Stalled Budget Talks : President Blames the Democrats

November 04, 1987|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leader Bob Dole urged President Reagan today to step into the stalled budget negotiations in an attempt to develop a deficit reduction agreement before Friday.

A failure to reach an agreement by this weekend could further unsettle financial markets looking to Washington for an accord to reduce the huge debt problem, Dole said.

"I would hope we can have some agreement before Friday," the GOP presidential candidate told the Senate. "I would hope . . . the President might call the group together or call the leadership together and indicate to us and we can indicate to him at the same time a willingness to do what we need to do."

Dole made the appeal as Democratic leaders expressed similar frustration by the talks, which entered their eighth day without agreement.

House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) also hinted he is upset by a lack of cooperation from Administration officials participating in the private deficit reduction talks with lawmakers.

"It would be very nice if we could just get some modicum of consideration from the Executive Branch," Wright said.

Wright said time is running out on the negotiations, noting the automatic $23 billion in spending cuts that will take effect Nov. 20 unless lawmakers first reach agreement with Reagan on an alternative anti-deficit package.

The President reacted by blaming Democrats for "having created all these deficits."

'Looking for An Excuse'

Reagan, asked at a photo session about Democrats' arguments that he was not being flexible in the deficit talks, said, "Maybe they're looking for an excuse for having created all these deficits."

He insisted, however, that the talks will not fail. "No. Because they can't. They can't for the simple reason that it's about time, after a half a century of deliberate deficit spending, this government straightened up and started operating within its means," Reagan said.

Asked what would be the impact if the deficit talks collapsed, Reagan said, "I'm not going to speculate on that because we're going to get a handle on the deficit."

Reagan's criticism of the Democrats appeared at odds with his spokesman's earlier assertion that the Administration could not defend itself without "violating ground rules of the negotiations."

Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said, "I find it very disturbing that some members of the Senate, most notably its leadership, and the House, most notably its leadership, would choose to be making comments during this period that might have an impact on a sensitive market or that might be critical of negotiators and an Administration trying to deal with this problem, and it's not helpful."

He said the Administration is committed to progress in the talks but he would not discuss what position it has taken on various deficit-reduction proposals.

One of the negotiators, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said negotiations are "far more difficult than any of you could believe. It's kind of like the chicken and the egg: Who wants to agree to the tough things and who wants to be the first ones out there, because they are afraid they will be blamed."

While Dole told the Senate he wanted an accord by Friday, House Democratic leader Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) expressed doubt that this would be accomplished. He said he was making arrangements "to keep next week clear" for further talks.

"I do believe that unless we take some action soon, that there's going to be a feeling not only on Wall Street, but around the country and around the world, that we're just not going to come to grips with a very serious problem," Dole said.

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