The Carter administration's proposal for a "real wage insurance" tax credit continued to run into skepticism in the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday, with no firm indication yet whether members will approve the plan despite their reservations.
At a breakfast meeting in advance of a second day of hearings, Rep. Al Ullman (D-Ore.), chairman of the panel, told reporters he saw "some increasing resignation" on the part of committee members "to the idea that we have to do it" for lack of a better anti-inflation plan.
However, questions posed by members during the hearing indicated that misgivings about the proposal had not yet abated. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) told White House officials at the session: "I don't see a great deal of enthusiasm. I think you've got a tremendous selling job to do."
The moves came as, separately, Carter's budget director, James T. Mc-Intyre, said that if Congress rejects the real wage insurance plan, the House Budget Committee should reduce the budget deficit by $2.5 billion rather than divert the money to spending for social programs.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Board chairman G. William Millier, reversing his previous stand, counseled the law-makers to approve the real wage insurance proposal on a "one-year trial basis," rather than simply rejecting it entirely.
On Monday, Miller had told a group of reporters he thought the tax-credit plan was "an interesting concept," but he was "not sure it fills the bill under these circumstances." He suggested Congress might spend its money more effectively on other proposals.
Yesterday, however, Miller urged a hearing of the congressional Joint Economic Committee to allow Carter to experiment with the proposal, telling members the plan has "plusses and minuses" and ought to be given a chance. Miller was out of town late yesterday.
The real wage insurance proposal, designed to protest workers who follow the new wage guidelines if inflation outpaces the government's pay standards, would provide up to $600 in tax credits if price increases average more than 7 percent. The credits themselves would be taxable, how ever.
In his meeting with reporters, Ullman also said he thought that if the nation ever suffered an energy shortage, Americans would prefer government rationing of gasoline and fuel oil rether than "willynilly" spot shortages that might crop up without it.