The U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday called on Congress to reduce the federal deficit to $25 billion in the next fiscal year -- $4 billion less than the target set by the Carter administration.
The request for a budget squeeze topped a list of legislative initiatives outlined in a letter sent to members of Congress by Shearon Harris, the chamber chairman, and underlined the prevailing mood in the business community that excessive federal spending is the chief cause of inflation.
Harris also urged Congress to ease regulatory pressures on business and industry and to reform the tax structure to provide both across-the-board relief for all taxpayers and special investment incentives for business.
In related developments yesterday:
Alice Rivlin, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said the "general feeling" among members of Congress is for a "tight budget," though there is still far from general agreement on what federal programs should be cut.
At the same time, she criticized President Carter for pinning too much hope on a lower deficit as a cure for inflation. "The realities are that in the range being debated, it won't make a lot of difference," Rivlin told a breakfast meeting of reporters.
G. William Miller, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, predicted the U.S. economy would steer clear of a recession in 1979. In a review and forecast speech to a luncheon gathering at the Washington Post, Miller also pledged the Fed would continue to follow a policy of restraint and austerity, a policy which has produced the high interest rates that many economists are predicting will help tip the economy into a recession in the second half of 1979.
A survey of small and independent businessmen taken by the National Federation of Independent Business showed that 52 percent of those polled favor the administration's voluntary wage-price program and 41 percent oppose it.
"Carter's voluntary guidelines may slow inflation slightly," said Wilson S. Johnson in releasing the poll results yesterday, "but they can't solve the inflation spiral because they do not treat the causes, mainly large federal budget deficits and excessive growth in the money supply."