Sen. James Sasser (D-Tenn.) wants the Federal Reserve Board to act immediately to roll back high interest rates and to create a dual financing system that gives distressed industries a break.
Sasser, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations, Budget and Small Business committees, appeared yesterday at a press conference with Wendell Miller, president-elect of the National Automobile Dealers Association, and Merrill Butler, president of the National Association of Home Builders, to deplore the effect of high interest rates on construction and automobile manufacturing. They changed that these industries were "deliberately being targeted for sacrifice in the name of fighting inflation."
More than 1600 dealerships closed in 1980, and 125,000 retail automotive employes are out of work, a trend that is expected to continue in 1981, they noted. More than 30 percent of the country's builders have gone out of business in the past two years, and 757,000 housing industry workers are unemployed.
In a joint settlement, Miller and Butler declared, "If this nation can find no more effective way to control inflation other than to force higher rates of interest, than mechanisms must be immediately developed and implemented to assist the auto and housing industries through troubled times so they no longer will be forced to shoulder such a disproportionate and disastrous burden."
This week Sasser and eight cosponsors introduced a resolution that the Fed should "act immediately to prevent any further increases of interest rates and to reduce such rates as soon as practically possible." Furthermore, the Fed should "institute alternative policies to restrain interest rates and the growth of nonessential credit directly." Sasser acknowledged he was asking for credit allocations, a strategy employed last spring by the Fed with dire consequences for the economy.
Sasser, who said he hadn't discussed the matter with either President-elect Reagan or Senate Banking Committee Chairman Jake Garn (R-Utah), admitted that passage of the resolution would not by itself cause a rollback in interest rates. So he included some other provisions he hopes will emphasize what he calls the displeasure of Congress at the Fed's monetarist policies, which he maintains are feeding the fires of inflation.
These include abolishing the Federal Open Market Committee and leaving all decisions on money supply and interest rates to the seven residentially appointed Fed governors. At present, five presidents of Federal Reserve Banks also sit on the committee. This idea has been around for 20 years, and as recently as last fall a bill got as far as the full House Banking Committee before Congress adjourned.