President Carter and his chief inflation fighter, Alfred Kahn, yesterday called on state and local regulations to help the federal government eliminate unneeded and wasteful regulation.
"We've got a pressing need to get rid of those regulations which are unwarranted," Carter told a White House conference on regulatory reform. Calling himself a "product of our free enterprise system," Carter said the government must have "a constant recommitment to competition."
Carter said many regulations are excessive, citing as examples rules governing the operations of railroads, trucking, financial institutions and telecommunications.
With the help of state and local authorities, Carter added, the federal government can reduce -- and in some cases, already has reduced -- the regulatory burden on business.
"We've made some initial progress," he said. "We've brought under control conflicts between federal agencies. We have reduced paperwork in the federal government by 15 percent."
Kahn also called for the deregulation of many industries, claiming that such a move would improve competition.
He cited the case of the airlines, which were substantially deregulated while he served as head of the Civil Aeronautics Board.
"We dragged the airlines, many of them screaming and kicking, into the free market -- and right to the bank," said Kahn, claiming that the industry has done well in a more competitive atmosphere.
"Wherever competition is feasible, deregulate," said Kahn. "Leave the protection of the consumer to the competitive market process, to the antitrust laws, to direct safety regulations where the market will not provide tolerable margins of safety, and even to direct subsidies for certain kinds of service, if that is what society decides it wants to do."
Kahn warned, however, of the need for continued environmental, occupational and product safety regulations. He said that "no one in his or her right mind could argue that the competitive market takes care of protecting these social values."
Without regulation, Kahn argued, "competition becomes rivalry in the degradation of the environment."
The state and local regulators were urged to support administration deregulation and regulatory reform efforts, including pending legislatgion in Congress that would streamline many regulatory operations. They were also asked to take similar action with local regulation.