White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan, pounding his podium in anger, today denounced the budget deadlock on Capitol Hill as "ridiculous."
Budget talks broke down in acrimony Wednesday night, with both Senate and House negotiators trading charges that the other was torpedoing efforts to get an agreement.
"The federal government, the world's largest economy, the strength of the free world, is about to go into a new fiscal year without a budget," Regan said in a breakfast appearance before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "How ridiculous can you be?"
Regan, who has assumed major powers at the White House since President Reagan has been hospitalized, argued that if the problem is not dealt with, the Administration will be unfairly blamed for the growing deficit.
'Where Is It?'
With his voice and his anger rising, Regan said, "Did we not submit a budget? We did. Where is it now?"
Then, pounding the podium, Regan shouted, "It has not been passed by the Congress. No budget has been passed by the Congress. Why not?"
He said that "at the current rate we will have no budget at all" by the time Congress is due to begin a monthlong summer recess at the beginning of August. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
Regan's solution to the impasse was: "Cut federal spending; cut federal spending; cut federal spending."
'Speak Up Now'
Regan also told his audience to press legislators for action. "If you don't speak up now, it will be too late 48 hours from now," he said. "That conference is teetering."
Meanwhile, congressional leaders pondered how to salvage their effort to produce a major deficit-reduction package.
"Everything's up in the air, nothing's on the table," said Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), who called Republican senators together to consider their next move.
House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) said he hoped the Senate would return to the talks. "We think it's kind of childish to be walking out," O'Neill told reporters. "All it takes is the art of compromise."