Advertisement

WASHINGTON INSIGHT

The Times' Washington staff

UNIFORM VIEWS: President Bush has the unanimous support of his own top advisers in his decision to move quickly to attack Iraqi forces if Iraq fails to withdraw from Kuwait by the Jan. 15 deadline set by the United Nations Security Council.

Despite reports to the contrary, Administration sources say there is no internal dissent over the question--even from Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, whose own generals have cautioned that U.S. forces may not be prepared by then.

White House strategists also discount views that Bush may face a backlash in Congress if he orders an early attack. When the lawmakers return from spending the holidays at home, “they’ll be behind the President,” one top policy-maker says.

WHAT, ME WORRY? Bush’s top economic team has decided to try to tough out the economic downturn rather than take any new action to help arrest the slide.

Advertisement

Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady’s blithe response on “Meet the Press” earlier this month (“I don’t think it’s the end of the world even if we have a recession. . . . No big deal.”) was a foretaste of the Administration’s approach, policy-makers say.

The only major economic initiative the Administration is planning now is a sweeping bill that would overhaul the banking system. Officials say Bush doesn’t intend to propose any anti-recession plan because to do so might exacerbate inflation.

But some analysts worry that the President’s bank plan could seriously worsen the present slump by heightening the growing uncertainty about the nation’s banks.

TAKING AIM: Gun-control advocates hope to turn the Administration’s proposed “summit” of state and local law enforcement officials--scheduled to convene here in mid-February to discuss the increase in violent crime--into a push for tougher restrictions on firearms ownership.

Advertisement

Such a move could prove embarrassing for the White House. Big-city police chiefs, traditionally opposed to such legislation, now include some of the strongest advocates of tougher gun laws.

OPENING SALVO? The Bush Administration may be facing the prospect of a widespread internal revolt against White House Budget Director Richard G. Darman.

Health and Human Services Secretary Louis W. Sullivan’s surprise public attack on Darman last week--complaining that the budget chief’s demand for further cutbacks could impede delivery of services to the needy--may well have been just the opening salvo, sources here say.

Other top Cabinet officers are expected to try their hand as well as the White House moves into the final phase of decision-making for the fiscal 1992 budget, which is due out Feb. 4.

Some analysts say that Darman has all but invited discontent among other Cabinet officers with his continued heavy-handedness in demanding further cuts.

Veteran Administration-watchers say the Sullivan incident also reflects a growing perception that Darman, who lost ground in the budget fracas with Congress last autumn, is politically vulnerable and on the way out.

YULETIDE THOUGHT: Greeting on a Christmas card sent out by the Iraqi Embassy: “Peace is not a season. It’s a state of mind.”


Advertisement