US WELCOMES WEST GERMANY'S OPPOSITION CHIEF

US WELCOMES WEST GERMANY'S OPPOSITION CHIEF

Judging by the warm reception it gave him, the Reagan administration may be paying closer attention to West German opposition leader Hans-Jochen Vogel and his growth-oriented policies.

This contrasts with the fairly chilly welcome the Social Democratic Party leader got during a visit here five years ago.But when he returned to the capital last month, he was able to confer with many of Washington's most powerful figures: President Reagan, Vice President George Bush, Secretary of State George P. Schultz, Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and several members of Congress.

Mr. Vogel and his aides left Washington convinced that their new-found popularity had much to do with their economic ideas.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl's West Germany, which has the world's third-largest economy, is intentionally keeping its growth in national output low - to a recent 1.7 percent a year.

Mr. Kohl and Finance Minister Gerhard Stoltenburg have steadfastly refused appeals by U.S. officials and many economists to boost world growth by heating up the German economy.

What we want to do obviously is much more in line with U.S. concepts and needs than the rigid course pursued by the Kohl government, a member of Mr. Vogel's entourage said. Mr. Kohl heads a coalition consisting of the Christian Democratic Union, the Christian Social Union and the Free Democratic Party.

Ludolf von Wartenberg, one of the coalition's economic spokesmen in the West German Parliament, told reporters in New York last week that Mr. Vogel might be winning some audiences in Washington but he likely won't win U.S. officials' hearts.

The views of Mr. Vogel's party are so demand-side oriented that they aren't the views of your administration, Mr. von Wartenberg said. I can't imagine an opposition leader in Germany getting a warm reception from Mr. Reagan.

During his visit to Washington, Mr. Vogel contended that West Germany is not bearing its full share of responsibility for the world's economic well- being.

It is intolerable that the Bonn government accepts an unemployment total of two and a half million persons - about 9 percent of the labor force - and really does nothing about it, he said at one point.

The Social Democrats have proposed that the German government spend the equivalent of $14 billion over two years to reduce interest rates and give grants to municipalities and private firms for a wide range of environmental projects.

Mr. Vogel said he believes such a federal program would induce an equal amount of other investments, combining to help generate 600,000 to 700,000 new jobs. Countries with close economic ties with West Germany would benefit as well, he said.

Mr. Vogel also said German firms should give priority to investing at home rather than abroad.

Total public and private investment is at its lowest domestic level since the 1950s, he said. At the same time, the financial assets abroad of German banks and the 25 biggest industrial firms and their foreign subsidies rose

from a minor amount in 1980 to $30 billion at the end of 1986.