President Reagan insisted Saturday that "vital weapons systems . . . must not be touched" as Congress tries to reduce the federal budget deficit, and he repeated his call for reductions in "bloated" domestic spending programs.
"Don't believe the drumbeat of propaganda that blames defense spending for government living beyond its means," Reagan said in his weekly radio address.
"Spending is zooming for only one reason: The domestic budget is still bloated with waste and unnecessary programs," he said.
Although the President agreed Friday to begin negotiating with Senate Republican leaders over the size of the defense budget, his strong rhetoric in his address Saturday from the Oval Office indicated that reaching a compromise on defense outlays may be a long and difficult process.
The Senate Budget Committee wants defense spending held at the rate of inflation in the new fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. The President wants a spending boost of 6% in addition to the rate of inflation. The Budget Committee approved a spending plan that would trim $21 billion from military outlays.
Reagan and key Senate Republicans reached agreement Friday to form a working group in an effort to settle differences over budget issues. On Saturday, the President said he and the Senate leaders are "coming closer to a meeting of the minds" but gave no details of what he might be willing to forgo in his defense requests.
Instead, he stressed that the weapons buildup is vital "when the Soviet Union is every bit as aggressive, expansionist and dangerous as before."
'A Threat to Expansion'
The President said he and Senate leaders agreed in their meeting that "uncontrolled spending poses a threat to our expansion, and we agreed we must face that threat together and face it now."
"For my part," he added, "I made it clear that in further reductions in defense, vital weapons systems, either conventional or strategic, must not be touched. Period."
Some members of Congress have proposed cutting the defense budget by spending less for civilian personnel at the Pentagon and reducing other expenditures that do not involve weapons.
Reagan is campaigning hard to win funding for a key strategic weapon, the MX missile, and he summoned home Max M. Kampelman, the chief U.S. arms negotiator in Geneva, to help persuade uncertain House members to vote for it.
The President called again for the elimination of revenue sharing, the end of federal financial support for the Amtrak train system, cutbacks in government loans to college students and the elimination of federally subsidized loans to small businesses.
In the Democratic rebuttal to the weekly radio address, Rep. George E. Brown Jr. (D-Colton) said Reagan's explanation of the budget deficit is "a complete hoax."
"If every line of the President's budget were enacted, we would continue down the road to national bankruptcy that we have followed for the last four years with $200-billion annual deficits indefinitely," Brown said.
Domestic spending programs "have been cut to the bone," he added.
Brown denounced Reagan's advocacy of a space-based defense system against nuclear attack.
"While I believe that the President is sincere in his desire for world peace," Brown said, "his dream of creating a shield over the United States to protect against nuclear attack is compelling, but so is the idea of finding the fountain of youth, or turning lead into gold as the ancient alchemists sought to do."