The Carter administration is stepping up its jawboning efforts to get corporate chief executives to put "tight constraints" on their salaries and their subordinates.
Treasury Secretary W. Michael Blumenthal is mailing letters to about 200 leading banking and financial institution leaders asking for their "pledge" that they will meet national wage "deceleration" standards.
According to a Treasury official, President Carter has asked other Cabinet officers to follow Blumenthal's lead with similar letters to companies in their general area of jurisdiction.
Blumenthal accelerated the pressure for compliance with Carter's anti-inflation program by asking the corporate heads not only to give the matter serious thought, but to "notify me soon whether you will cooperate in this critical endeavor."
The Council on Wage and Price Stability earlier had urged that this year's price and wage increases be held to between one-half to one percentage point below the average for the past two years.
In his letter, Blumenthal said the objective of the president's program is to reduce the economy-wide average increase in total compensation, "excluding legally mandated items such as Social Security taxes - by at least a percentage point per year." But both Treasury and COWPS officials said that there was no intention to harden the nationwide demands, by excluding mention of the one-half point at the low end of the range. But a government spokesman when asked by The Washington Post, observed that a nationwide average deceleration of one-half to one per cent means that "some will have to do better than others" and that Blumenthal appeared to be asking the financial community to do a little better in decelerating its executive pay increases than is being asked of the rest of the economy.
"If we can pull down the rate of growth in these wages (with the greatest gains) while preventing an acceleration in the wage gains of others, we will be able to reduce the average wage increase nationwide," Blumenthal's letter said.
He cited announcements in the past few weeks by General Motors, Ford, and AT&T that they would limit advances in executive and other salary payments.