Independent presidential aspirant John Anderson, seeking to put as much distance as possible between himself and Ronald Reagan, yesterday denounced the GOP candidate's call for a tax cut of almost 30 percent over the next three years. Instead, Anderson called for a gradual program geared to progress in fighting inflation.
Reminded by his questioner on the television program "Issues and "Answers" (ABC, WJLA) that he had supported the same Kemp-Roth tax proposal now a part of the GOP platform when he, Anderson, was a member of the Republican leadership, the candidate replied: "Time moves on; circumstances change. At that time inflation was 6 percent; today we have a core inflation of 10-11 percent. To compare the success of tax cuts in the Coolidge-Mellon or even the Kennedy-Johnson eras, as Mr. Reagan does, is to ignore the fact that the economy has developed some difficult structural changes."
He rejected charges that he has frequently changed his mind on key issues. Anderson said were he elected he would not be as "ridgid and doctrinaire" as Reagan. He would remain flexible but, on the other hand, would be more "consistent" than Carter who, he noted, had produced two entirely new different budgets within seven weeks and five different proposals for military spending in five months.
Reaching out for a wider audience, Anderson attacked the GOP cut as as effort to "try to sell a white collar tax cut to the blue collar workers of this country" and added, "I don't think this is the most equitable way of going about cutting taxes." Under the GOP plan the minimum tax rate would be reduced from 14 to 10 percent; the maximum rate from 70 to 50 percent. This means a worker making $10,000 would get a tax cut of just over $100 a year while the $50,000 family would get $1,000.
Anderson indicates a tax cut was not a panacea per se for unemployment or the woes of the automobile industry. "I just don't believe that the kind of tax cut that has been proposed by Mr. Reagan is going to be that effective in addressing the problems of an industry that has clearly gotten into trouble because it hasn't produced the kind of cars the American people want to buy. Putting $100 or $1,000 into (taxpayers) pockets isn't suddenly going to produce a great bonanza for the auto industry." p
The candidate brushed aside a question about what he would do as president if unemployment reaches 9 percent. He spoke instead of the need for retraining programs for minority youth -- whom he called the "social dynamite of our society" -- in cities where the true unemployment rate is 50-55 percent. "I'd even be wiling to make the government the employer of last resort," said Anderson, who also made a pitch for more involvement in job retraining: by the private sector.
Another broadside at his rival centered on military spending. The GOP platform, Anderson contended, contains "every gold plated military system that the Pentagon has been asking for the last 15 years. But how you are going to (finance sophisticated new weapons) consistent with a balanced budget and at the same time reduce taxes by as much as $280 billion between now and fiscal 1985, I don't know."