Citing eased auto exhaust emission standards, withdrawal of the proposed $50 tax rebate and defeat of common site picketing, the chairman of American Telephone and Telegraph last night heralded an era of improved relations between the government and business.
On the topics and on energy policy, the consumer protection agency and tax reform business is being listened to, said John D. deButts, the head of the nation's largest private corporation.
In a speech prepared for delivery to the annual dinner for delivery of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, deButts repeatedly referred favorably to relations between Washington and Wall Street.
He called on other business leaders "to eschew the rhetorical excesses of some hard line business spokesmen."
This is no time," deButts said, "for the kind of all or nothing oratorical extremism that . . . might stand in the way . . . of sensible accommodation."
"I am not saying that the Carter administration or the powers that currently reside on the Hill are probusiness," said deButts.
"What I am saying is that the leaders of our federal government today are not antibusiness. What I am saying is that they are ready at least to listen.
"Business viewpoints are being given a respectful hearing these days - both in the Executive department and in the Congress."
deButts reeled off a list of business successes as "evidence that we have received a fair hearing and evidence that what we've said has not been without effect."
His list included withdrawal of the $50 tax rebate proposal, delays in implementing tougher auto emmission standards, and "the administration's gathering belated concern about the impact on American jobs of subsidized competition from overseas."
Saying business arguments had given the administration second thoughts about consumer protection, energy policy and taxes, he predicted the Carter tax plan would lower corporate income taxes, make the investment tax credit permanent and soften the double taxing of dividends.
DeButts termed Washington's favorable ear for business "a quite unexpected development" in the wake of Watergate and revelations of illegal business payments at home and abroad.
Many business leaders favored a keeping a low profile to avoid becoming a whipping boy for Watergate, he admitted saying he disagrees because "not in a long time has the nation so much needed to be reminded of the hard lessons business teaches."
The AT&T chief spoke favorably of departed budget director Bert Lance, saying "uniquely he commanded the confidence of the president and of the nation's business leaders." Business can only hope deButts added, that Lance's replacement "will continue to afford us the fair hearing we've received so far."
He cited the Business Council and The Business Roundtable as the most effective forums for businessmen in Washington.
While the Business Council offers top management's expertise on government issues, the Business Roundtable has become an effective sounding board for testing new policies on the business community, said deButts, who this year is chairman of the Business Council.