President Carter won grudging industry and labor approval yesterday on a plan to hold frequent consultations between White House officials and top business and union leaders in an effort to try to slow inflation.
The plan, described as the heart of Carter's upcoming new anti-inflation program, would be modeled on sessions of the private Labor-Management Committee run informally by John T. Dunlop, former Secretary of Labor.
However, both the government and business and-labor representatives would vary, depending on the issues to be discussed, with no effort to appoint a single permanent panel. Dunlop's own group is not expected to play any role.
Sources indicated the working groups would try to develop specific proposals to deal with factors they see as pushing up costs in the economy. But there would be no numerical wage-price guidelines or formal criteria.
Carter discussed the plan yesterday in separate meetings with a handful of key business leaders and, later, at a luncheon session with George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO. The plan is to be unveiled officially next week.
Reginald Jones, chairman of the General Electric Co., told reporters after the business session that industry leaders were "willing to give it a try." Meany was not available for comment, but was not expected to oppose the plan.
The developments came as, separately, Arthur F. Burns, outgoing chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, disclosed as expected he will resign from the board entirely when his term as chairman expires Jan. 31.
In a letter to Carter, Burns said his decision was based on "my conviction that" G. William Miller, the man the President named as Burns' successor, "deserves the fullest opportunity to establish his leadership. . ."
"The continued presence of a former chairman could, in my judgment, be a complicating distraction," Burns said in his letter. Carter accepted, writing Burns that he was "conveying the sentiments of a grateful nation."
The plan for continuing rounds of White House consultations with business and labor leaders is only one of several elements in the Carter anti-inflation package.
Carter also is expected to pledge to work on changing government policies that tend to boost costs for the private sector - particularly regulations issued by agencies. The forums will give business and labor a chance to pinpoint some of these.
Sources said Carter apparently promised both sides there would be no numerical wage-price guideposts and that the program would not lead to mandatory controls. The business-labor discussion groups will not handle individual wage-price decisions.
However, Carter told business and labor leaders he planned to ask them to base their actions on the guiding principle that their steps should "decelerate" the rate of inflation from the present 6 per cent. The phrase is expected to serve as an overall guide for the anti-inflation program.
The disclosures came as, separately, sources confirmed the budget Carter is planning to unveil next weekend, for fiscal 1979, will contain a deficit of about $60 billion - slightly below the revised $61 billion estimated for the current year.
And Jones told reporters the business leaders who met with Carter urged him to withdraw two proposals in his coming tax-revision package that would phase out foreign tax breaks for U.S. multinational corporations. Jones said the move would hurt exports and the dollar.
In a related development, Jacob Clayman, new president of the AFL-CIO's industrial union department, said organized labor will continue to push "full steam ahead" for enactment of the Humphrey-Hawkins employment bill, despite the recent decline in the nation's jobless rate.