The chairman of the House Banking Committee said yesterday he is opposed to mandatory wage-price controls and sees no chance that Congress will enact them in the near future.
Rep. Henry S. Reuss (D.-Wis) made his remarks to calm fears of business and banking leaders, many of whom have become nervous in the wake of recent calls by some private economists for imposition of controls.
Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has expressed similar views. Congressional sources say they feel confident a clear majority of both panels would vote against controls.
The debate was given new life last week when Barry P. Bosworth, former Carter administration wage-price chief, called for imposition of mandatory controls. A few other economists have since endorsed the idea.
On Wednesday, a House Banking subcommittee announced it will allow sponsors of mandatory controls legislation to testify later this month when the panel considers whether to renew President Carter's voluntary wage-price program.
However, Bosworth and most others who have advocated controls have endorsed them only as part of a broader plan that would include gasoline rationing or a stiff excise tax, tight fiscal and monetary policies and other tough moves.
Moreover, as reported yesterday, the banking panel's agreement to give the issue an airing was mainly to keep sponsors from reviving the measure in the House Democratic caucus and was not a first step toward passage of the bill.
The caucus rejected the controls proposal by a vote of 94 to 50 in its January meeting, and congressional experts say despite the statements by Bosworth and other economists they see no increased support for the measure.
Reuss said yesterday he was not unalterably opposed to controls, but added he would favor them only with the other policies Bosworth listed and as part of a complete overhaul of the economic structure, which he conceded was unlikely.
He said in any case, he would not vote to give wage-price controls authority to the Carter administraton "because they're likely to bugger it up." President Carter also has said he is opposed to controls.
Reuss' remarks came as, separately, economists for The Business Council, an organization of industrial leaders, disclosed they now expect inflation to be more virulent than they did a month ago, with interest rates pushing higher. b
They blamed an "unusual array of surprises" during the past several weeks, from a stronger-than-expected economy to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and higher proposed defense spending.
The group said a straw vote to top corporate economists showed none expects inflation to drop below 10 percent anytime this year, where about half had foreseen more improvement in a similar ballot a month ago. The group predicts a mild recession.