President Carter is planning a major new policy pronouncement next January designed to "clarify" the administration's much-criticized economic program in an effort to overcome charges that its actions have been confusing.
Alarmed by the raft of criticism recently both from business and consumers, key administration policy makers are hammering out a rationale they say will "put the President's actions into perspective" and "make policy coherent" to the public.
The plan is part of a new White House effort to back away from the administration's earlier, more activist image, and hopefully to regain business confidence and support among voters. Many businessmen have complained they find present policy confusing.
Officials say it isn't clear yet whether the move will be part of the annual State of the Union message or will be in a separate address. Aides say the details won't be worked out until late December, but it may ultimately be that Carter will use both.
Both the President and Juanita Kreps, the Secretary of Commerce, have hinted at the possibility of such a pronouncement Kreps told a press conference recently she thought the speech would be a good way to restore confidence in the administration.
According to officials, the policy statement would seek to make two central points:
To show how the administration's various economic proposals are related to one another as part of a "comprehensive approach" to economic policymaking that is logical and coherent.
To put the President's programs "into prespective" by showing how they fit into a longer-range economic plan. Officials have been hinting at this by linking the expected proposala for tax cuts to long-term needs to adjust the tax brackets for inflation.
Apart from the tax-cut proposals, officials say the January pronouncement will contain no new general economic initiatives. (Carter also is expected to propose some changes in the tax code, but these are thought likely to be modest.)
The plans for the January policy statement stem from a recent decision by top administration policy makers that the White House needs to explain its economic actions more thoroughly. Officials are particularly concerned that business finds the programs confusing.
W. Michael Blumenthal, the Secretary of the Treasury, has made a major effort in recent weeks to calm business apprehensions about administration actions. In a speech in New York on Monday, Blumenthal all but promised there would be no end to special tax treatment of capital gains.
On key administration official described the January pronouncement yesterday as an exercise to "present a coherent picture. What we're talking about here is not a bunch of new initiatives, but the packaging of them all in one place."
The official said policymakers were now going through the annual budget review with an eye toward making policy more understandable. "Thing will make a little more sense in January to some people," he said, "than they do now."