The AFL-CIO remains opposed to a tax-cut bill now, the group's chief economist, Rudolph Oswald, told the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday. Oswald said the government should move to boost the economy but through increased spending for jobs programs rather than through tax cuts.
Organized labor generally has opposed tax-cut legislation this year. The United Auto Workers is scheduled to testify later this week.
In the fifth day of the hearings on whether or not there should be a tax-cut bill this year, to take effect in 1981, several other witnesses urged Congress not to rush into a tax cut.
Otto Eckstein, president of the independent forecasters Data Resources Inc., referred yesterday to "a growing concensus" against an early tax cut, but said he believes Congress should go ahead with one now.
Barry Bosworth, former director of the council on Wage and Price Stability and now of the the Brookings Institution, cautioned against hasty tax legislation but said he does not feel strongly about it.
A tax cut would not have much effect anyway, because it would come too late to boost the economy out of recession, he argued. But he did speak strongly against the idea of cutting taxes without considering what was happening to federal spending.
"There has been a tremendous change in the federal budget" which has gone unnoticed, an every major federal program has overrun its projected budget, Bosworth said. It is not plausible that spending will slow down in fiscal 1981, he added.
The "roller coaster of U.S. economic policy" has led to higher inflation and higher unemployment at the end of each successive recession this year, according to Bosworth. Congress has no reason to switch its policy now from the anti-inflationary stance which it took just three months ago, he argued.
Taxes should be cut only as part of an overall economic strategy aimed at improving productivity and raising investment, Bosworth added.
He argued against the proposed "10-5-3" plan for changing depreciation rules for business taxation, saying the proposal would give a strong economic incentive for building shopping centers rather than for investing in the industrialized core of the nation.
Lawrence Klein, of Wharton Econometrics forecasting association, yesterday urged the Senate Finance Committee to approve an immediate tax package including a rollback of scheduled increases in social security taxes due on Jan. 1 and new guidelines for depreciation.
This would lead the economy to grow next year, rather than slip back slightly, and would not be inflationary, said Klein, President Carter's main economic adviser during the 1976 election campagin. He described several different types of tax cuts and concluded they all would help the economy grow and would not be inflationary, at least at first. The worst would be an across-the-board cut in personal taxes, Klein contended.
Oswald's recommendations to Ways and Means were markedly different from those of other witnesses. He did not favor a cut in business taxation, saying a business tax reduction would raise major questions about where the country's tax policy is going.