President Carter is planning a series of new vetoes - and announcement of a tighter-than-expected spending clampdown in his January budget - as part of his new anti-inflation program, according to key officials.
White House Sources say the president has told top strategists they can expect the vetoes in the nest few weeks on major legislation in which Congress has exceeded his budget targets.
Although the president has not decided definitely which measures he ultimately will reject, aides say the veto list includes three "prime candidates" - the public works, highway construction and veterans' benefits bills.
The developments came as the White House quietly sounded out top labor leaders on its new anti-inflation plan, but apparently did not seek a specific pledge to cooperate in a wageprice guidelines program.
Although neither side would comment formatlly, initial indications were that the labor leaders neither embraced nor rejected the administrations' plan. One source described the talks as "only general, without any details."
The administration's cabinet-level Economic Policy Group also met yesterday to review recommendations for the guidelines program, but apparently delayed any final decisions pending further efforts by aides to iron out some details.
Carter is expected to announce either later this month or in October a Kennedy-style guideposts program involving a 7 to 8 percent ceiling or "trigger-point" for prices and a 5.5 to 6.5 percent limit on prices. Both would be voluntary.
The plans for additional vetoes were disclosed as Carter won a victory in Congress on his one major veto effort so far - his rejection earlier this month of the defense authorization bill.
The House yesterday voted overwhelmingly to sustain the veto, heightening the administration's confidence that the president's new "toughness" on fiscal matters can be made to pay off politically.
The budget holddown for fiscal 1980 is being regarded as crucial to the new anti-inflation program. Key White House advisers apparently are convinced Carter must take a tough stand on spending to give credibility to the plan.
The spending target policymakers are recommending for next January's budget would slash the fiscal 1980 deficit to just over $30 billion, rather than the $37.5 billion figure Carter had been aiming for before.
Planners say that would imply an overall spending limit of about $530 billion - a figure slightly below that needed to offset inflation. As a result, Carter would have to make significant cuts in some programs.
Although the White House has only just begun reviewing budget requests from various department and agencies, aides say they are seriously considering cutbacks in a number of major programs.
The list includes reducing the number of federally-financed public-service jobs, in view of the reduction in the nation's unemployment rate, and trimming back spending on shipbuilding, where there already is some backlog.
Planners also are looking into the possibility of proposing a cutback in revenue-sharing aid to states and localities, in view of the large number of states which are enjoying budget surpluses.
And White House aides also are considering slowing the amount of oil going into the nation's strategic petroleum reserves and reducing spending on energy research and development.
Although the $30 billion target for the fiscal 1980 deficit is regarded as the one most likely to be adopted, sources say the anti-inflation pressure within the White House is so great that some advisers are pressing for a $28 billion figure.
Carter also is being urged to veto the tax bill, which currently is before the Senate Finance Committee. However, the president has said he wants to wait until the Senate has considered the legislation to see if there are any changes.
The public works, highway and veterans bills were selected from a list of some 30 separate money measures policymakers had targeted earlier for possible veto on grounds of budget-busting.
Carter is said to have decided to veto the defense measure when he did simply because it was the first major bill on his list to come to his desk. It was only after that that aides began touting the move as a sign of "toughness."
The $30 billion deficit figure for fiscal 1980 would amount to a $10 billion reduction from the fiscal 1979 deficit, which currently is being estimated at between $39 billion and $41 billion.