Chrysler Corp. "sounded out" the Carter administration yesterday on a proposed federal aid program for the financially ailing automaker.
Details of the Chrysler proposal were not immediately available, but sources close to the company indicated the plan included a request for both loan guarantees and tax write-offs.
Chrysler Chairman John Riccardo, President Lee Iaccoca and three of the company's outside directors outlined their plan during an hour and a half meeting with Treasury Department officials. Outside directors attending the meeting were J. Richardson Dilworth, Louis Warren and Martha Griffiths.
Iaccoca met privately with Treasury Secretary G. William Miller while the other corporate officials met with Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Carswell and other department officials.
Sources close to the meeting said Chrysler's strategy was to sound out the government before formally presenting its proposal. This, a Chrysler source said, would give the company a chance to decide whether it wanted to amend its proposal or take its fight to Congress.
Chrysler was reported to be asking for $750 million in federal loan guarantees and another $250 million in tax write-offs. Chrysler officials denied the specific numbers.
Miller said Thursday that he personally opposed any special tax breaks for Chrysler. He has said that any government aid is apt to be in the form of loan guarantees.
Administration sources indicated yesterday, however, that Miller, in his statement Thursday opposing tax aid, had left himself enough room to change his position.
After the meeting yesterday, the Treasury Department issued a statement reiterating Miller's oppostion to any tax aid and insisting that any help would be contingent on Chrysler's credit status and "concessions from all who have an interest in the Chrysler situation."
A key to any eventual government aid decision is expected to be a special report by Chrysler's outside directors on the company's future viability.
In other related developments yesterday, the Federal Reserve Board reported that commercial banks already have lent the company and its subsidiaries 50 percent of the credit that legally can be extended.
Congressional sources said the Federal Reserve report could create problems for Chrysler in its effort to obtain loan guarantees.
Chrysler's quest for federal aid is not restricted to the United States. Chrysler's Canadian subsidiary is reportedly demanding approximately $500 million in aid from the Canadian government.