House Republican leaders said yesterday that the taxing and spending policies of the Carter administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress are irresponsible and the cause of much of the recent surge in inflation.
Minority leader John Rhodes (R-Ariz.) said that if President Carter is serious about trying to hold down federal spending as he has said, the Republican minority is willing to help.
Rhodes said a study by the minority members of the House Budget Committee showed that federal expenditures grew 11 percent in fiscal 1977 and are projected to grow that fast in the current fiscal year and fiscal 1979 as well.
"Government spending is responsible for the long-term inflation trend, and the long-term trend is upwards," Rep. Barber Conable (R-N.Y.) charged in a joint press confernce. Conable is ranking minority member of the House ways and Means Committee.
"The American people know you cannot go on spending beyond your means without debauching the dollar," Conable charged.
Rhodes said that the 1977 deficit and the projected 1978 and 1979 deficits are the second, third and fourth largest deficits in history, which he said is an irresponsible policy at a time when the economy has been growing quickly.
The deficit for fiscal 1979 was reduced from about $61 billion to $51 billion only because the President decided to reduce the size of his proposed tax cut, "putting the burden of fiscal policy on the tax-payer," Rhodes said.
"That's not healthy for the economic and it will not be popular with the taxpayers," the Arizona Republican charged.
The Republicans offered an alternative to the Democratic budget that was approved in the House last month and Rhodes promised to offer the alternative again next fall when the House and Senate must agree on a binding federal budget for fiscal 1917 (which begins Oct. 1).
The Republican budget, which lost by only six votes would have held the growth in federal spending next year to 7.5 percent rather than 11 percent, and would have cut taxes by about $30 billion, $10 billion more than the House was then considering and $5 billion more than the President's tax package.
Since then, the President agreed, to cut and defer the package, reducing the personal and corporate tax cuts in fiscal 1979 to $15 billion.
Conable noted that effective personal tax burdens at the federal level have been increasing 12 percent a year and said that for the good of the economy taxes should be cut further and the reduction in revenues offset spending reductions.
Rhodes said that Democrats today sound like Republicans in 1964, when Congress enacted big tax cuts. In those days, Rhodes said, Republicans cautioned that taxes could not be cut because the revenues were needed to finance the government.
Rhodes said, "We think we were wrong then. We think we are right now." He said a tax cut would stimulate the economy enough so that over the long haul more taxes would be raised by cutting tax rates than by leaving them alone.
Rhodes said that if President Carter is serious about restraining the growth of federal spending, as he pledged last week, he should make efforts at holding down appropriations in fiscal 1979 and "not wait until 1980."