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Two Objectives He Long Opposed : Reagan to Lobby Intensely for Arms Pact, Deficit Cuts

November 29, 1987|JOSH GETLIN | Times Staff Writer

SANTA BARBARA — When he returns to Washington this week from his Thanksgiving vacation, President Reagan will be trying to win congressional support for two objectives he has spent much of his political career opposing: a sweeping arms control agreement with the Soviets and a deficit reduction plan calling for billions of dollars in new taxes.

Beginning Monday, the President will begin a series of meetings with conservative Republican senators who have expressed early opposition to the proposed intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty, which would eliminate all medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe.

He also will mount an intense lobbying campaign to win over congressmen who are leery of the bipartisan deficit reduction plan that would require $23 billion in new taxes over the next two years.

At the same time, Reagan will be preparing for his Dec. 7-10 summit meetings at the White House with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, largely in private briefing sessions with personal aides and other arms control experts.

It all adds up to an unusually intense workweek for Reagan, who spent a leisurely Thanksgiving vacation at his ranch here reading briefing memos on the summit, riding horses and relaxing with his family.

"We've laid out for the President, and the President has approved, pretty extensive sets of meetings and initiatives on the budget package and on the treaty," White House Chief of Staff Howard H. Baker Jr. said. "The President is committed to both of them and he's going to work both of them very hard."

Reagan, who must win at least 67 votes in the Senate to ratify the INF treaty, will be targeting much of his attention on conservative GOP members who have criticized the pact's verification provisions and believe the Soviet Union cannot be trusted to live up to such an agreement.

In his Saturday radio address, the President sought to reassure such critics that, despite the euphoria of a summit agreement, "the Soviets are and will continue to be our adversaries," and reiterated his pledge not to make the "Star Wars" missile defense program a bargaining chip in his negotiations with Gorbachev.

'Stringent Verification'

"Since the Soviets have a record of violating arms agreements, we're insisting on the most stringent verification regime in arms control history," he said. "We must deal with the Soviets soberly and from strength."

To buttress his case, Reagan has scheduled meetings with Republican senators this week, mostly to explain what is in the treaty agreement and to give an overview of its verification provisions.

Under the proposed treaty, American and Soviet inspection teams would be stationed on each other's soil for the duration of the 13-year agreement, and would be able to monitor selected sites to ensure that the agreement was being upheld. The agreement calls for the United States to destroy 350 deployed warheads and requires the Soviets to destroy 1,500 similar weapons.

In his radio speech, Reagan praised the agreement, saying it will "for the first time in history eliminate an entire class of U.S. and Soviet missiles."

Echoing Arguments

However, several Republican senators, echoing arguments that Reagan has been making for years about Soviet trustworthiness, do not believe the verification provisions are strong enough.

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), for example, has vowed to offer amendments on the Senate floor to the treaty that would make further demands of the Soviets, including a withdrawal of their military forces from Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas has indicated he may offer amendments to strengthen its verification requirements. Although Dole appeared to soften his skepticism about the treaty after meeting Friday with Secretary of State George P. Shultz, he has continued to insist that "ratification does not mean rubber-stamping" the agreement, and said the Senate will have a full debate on the issue.

White House officials said Reagan will oppose any amendments.

"The President stands behind this treaty," Baker said. "It's Ronald Reagan's treaty. So I'm sure that the President will be anxious for the Senate to ratify this treaty in this form, because he negotiated it."

Talks on Deficit Cuts

On another front, the President will hold a series of meetings with members of Congress and business leaders this week to build support for the $76-billion bipartisan deficit reduction plan that was hammered out in the wake of the stock market plunge.

In a speech Monday before the conservative Heritage Foundation, Reagan will make a strong pitch for the economic package, aides said. He will make a similar appeal the same day in a White House meeting with a group of leading chief executive officers, and is expected to raise the issue in several other speeches during the week, according to aides.

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