President Steps Up Attack on Democrats’ Tax Plans

Times Staff Writer

President Reagan, stepping up his campaign against the Democratic-controlled Congress on tax and spending issues, promised Monday: “If a tax hike makes it to my desk, I’ll veto it in less time than it takes Vanna White to turn the letters V-E-T-O.”

In his speech, the third of a summer-long political offensive, the President denounced Congress’ impulse to raise taxes as part of a growing threat to basic American rights of freedom and property. The address, to a friendly audience at the Kiwanis International convention here, was a vintage Reagan attack on the menace of big government.

“Make no mistake--we face a clear and present danger in Congress,” he said. “The momentum of big government, which we’ve managed to hold back these last few years, has only been gathering steam, getting ready to burst through all the restraints we’ve imposed upon it.”


Part of Campaign

The speech was part of a nationwide campaign aimed against congressional Democrats, whom Reagan portrays as reckless apostles of a tax-and-spend philosophy. Congress has approved a $1-trillion budget resolution for fiscal 1988 that includes $19 billion in new taxes and would spend more on domestic programs and less on defense than Reagan has sought.

The House Ways and Means Committee opens hearings today as it prepares to draft a tax bill that would raise the revenues deemed necessary under the budget resolution. The resolution is a general budget guideline that leaves dollar amounts to individual bills that authorize specific spending programs and tax increases.

Congressional Democrats insist that new tax revenues are essential in helping to reduce the federal budget deficit. Reagan insists that he will veto any bill that would raise taxes and has expressed this determination with enthusiastic rhetoric.

In Monday’s speech, he drew laughter and his biggest round of applause with a reference to Vanna White, the television celebrity who gained unexpected fame in turning hidden letters of the alphabet for contestants and viewers of the game show “Wheel of Fortune.”

The President declared immutable opposition to tax increases in 1982 and 1984 but eventually signed into law major increases presented to him by Congress. However, White House officials, from the President on down, insist that there is no room for compromise in the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Unlike in 1982 and 1984, when the Republicans controlled the Senate, there is no strong GOP participation in preparing current tax legislation.

White House strategists have decided to put the President on the offensive, denouncing the menace of federal spending in a tone reminiscent of the speeches Reagan delivered in the 1960s and 1970s while building his reputation as the nation’s leading conservative politician.


The federal government’s power to borrow and spend, the President said Monday, is “like a wedge that could be driven between the individual and his God-given rights of freedom and property.”