Flood of calls to Md. delegation mildly favors proposals CLINTON'S ECONOMIC PROGRAM

February 19, 1993|By Nelson Schwartz | Nelson Schwartz,Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON -- The people of Maryland spoke yesterday -- but not all of them got through.

Congressional offices in Washington and throughout Maryland reported a surge of calls as citizens voted with their phones and gave President Clinton's economic proposals at least a mild thumbs up.

Many of the callers who did get through said they were willing to suffer through tax increases if it would help cut the deficit.

That marked a sharp change from the trend earlier this week, when calls ran heavily against the plan Mr. Clinton discussed Monday night.

The majority of callers to the offices of Democratic Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin and Republican Rep. Constance A. Morella said they were willing to pay more, despite a proposed freeze in the pay of federal workers. By midafternoon, Mrs. Morella's office had received more than 300 calls.

Democratic Rep. Albert R. Wynn found a slight majority of constituents in favor of the plan.

The calls to the offices of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, both Democrats, also tilted slightly to the positive side.

Ms. Mikulski's office received about 600 calls, which aides described as heavy but nothing near the 1,000 calls received in one day during the controversy over Zoe Baird when she was the attorney general nominee.

Ms. Mikulski said the calls to her office were running "60 to 40 [percent] for the president's package," with opponents expressing "serious reservations about the tax elements in it."

"But even there, those who are worried about that . . . at least they give him credit for starting the debate. Everyone seems to understand that doing nothing is not an alternative. I think that is extraordinary."

She added that there are "a substantial number of federal employees concerned about the freeze" proposed for their pay, which would result in the cancellation of a raise scheduled for next year.

"People think if everyone is going to pay, fine," Mrs. Morella said. She said she detected some caution on the details, though, especially from federal workers.

Aides to Mr. Cardin said they were surprised, after being hit with earlier objections, to hear many Baltimoreans say they are willing to ante up.

Two notable exceptions to the positive trend were the offices of Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett and Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, both Republican. They said their constituents were decidedly upset about the proposed tax increases. At Mrs. Bentley's Towson office, 95 people called to say they opposed the president's proposals, 18 to say they favored them, she said.

Republican Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest asked his staff to stay lat to handle all the calls. Mr. Gilchrest's office has been bombarded In recent months with calls and faxes on everything from well-publicized issues such as the admission of homosexuals into the military to more mundane such as procedural votes in the House, said his administrative assistant, Anthony Caligiuri.

"We thought 100 calls was a lot in the past," he said. "Now, it's 400 calls a day on an issue," he said.

Reaction from the Maryland delegation itself was generally positive, though several members expressed dismay about the federal pay freeze. There are an estimated 300,000 federal workers in the state.

Mrs. Morella's district in the Washington suburbs is home to tens thousands of federal employees, and she has already said she opposes the pay freeze. "We're singling them out," she said. "They've already got to pay the energy tax. They're vulnerable."

Federal workers were also on Ms. Mikulski's mind. In a statement, the Baltimore Democrat said, "I know that for my federal employee constituents, the pay reductions proposed by President Clinton are tough tonic, and I want to look for alternatives. Federal employees are middle-class, hard-working Americans, too."

She had positive words, however, for Mr. Clinton's proposals. "He has given us straight talk and truth in numbers," she said, adding that she "will not be a roadblock to progress."

Mr. Bartlett was more cautious, saying, "This is going to be the largest tax increase in our history, and it won't be the end of it."

WHERE TO CALL OR WRITE

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MARYLAND CONGRESS MEMBERS

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski

World Trade Center, Suite 253

Baltimore 21202, Phone: 962-4510

320 Hart Senate Office Bldg.

Washington, D.C. 20510

jTC (202) 224-4654

@Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes

1518 Federal Office Bldg.

31 Hopkins Plaza

Baltimore 21201, Phone: 962-4436

309 Hart Senate Office Bldg.

Washington, D.C. 20510

Phone: (202) 224-4524

Representative Helen Delich Bentley

200 E. Joppa Road

Towson 21204, Phone: 337-7222

1610 Longworth Office Bldg.

Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-3061

Representative Roscoe Bartlett

100 N. Franklin

Hagerstown, 21740, Phone: (301) 797-6043

312 Cannon Bldg.

Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-2721

Representative Benjamin L. Cardin

540 E. Belvedere Ave. Suite 201

Baltimore 21212, Phone: 433-8886

227 Cannon Bldg.

Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-4016

Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest

Arundel Center North, 101 Crain Hwy., Suite 509

Glen Burnie, Md. 21061, Phone: 760-3372

412 Cannon House Office Bldg.

Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-5311

Representative Steny H. Hoyer

4351 Garden City Drive, Suite 645

Landover 20785, Phone: (301) 436-5510

1705 Longworth Bldg.

Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-4131

Representative Albert Wynn

8700 Central Avenue

Suite 306

Landover, 20785, Phone: (301) 350-5055

423 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-8090

Representative Kweisi Mfume

3000 Druid Park Drive

Baltimore 21215, Phone: 367-1900

2419 Rayburn Bldg.

Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-4741

Representative Constance A. Morella

11141 Georgia Ave., Suite 302

Wheaton 20902, Phone: (301) 946-6801

223 Cannon Bldg.

Washington, D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-5341

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