In yesterday's Business & Finance section the chairman of General Telephone & Electronics Corp. was identified incorrectly. The chairman is Theodore F Brophy.
President Reagan got a vote of confidence yesterday from many business leaders who backed his rejection of higher taxes and said the administration program must be given time to work.
There was some concern among economists and financial analysts that Reagan has not yet dealt with the prospect of huge and damaging budget deficits in the years immediately ahead, but it didn't spread to the ranks of corporate leaders.
"I'm pleased he determined not to reverse any of the tax cuts put in place in 1981," said Thomas Brophy, chairman of General Telephone & Electronics Co., and chairman of the tax policy committee of the Business Roundtable, the chief lobbbing arm of business leaders.
Brophy says until he sees otherwise, he will accept the president's assurances of new spending cuts to reduce the expected deficits. There can be a revival of confidence among business and Wall Street leaders if the president's program offers a credible promise of shrinking budget deficits following 1982, Brophy said.
Reagan's State of the Union message Tuesday "probably is welcomed by most of the business community," said Alexander Trowbridge, president of the National Association of Manufacturers.
Jerry J. Jasinowski, chief economist of the NAM, said the president's plan "must be given sufficient time to see its full impact on economic recovery and therefore, on tax revenues." Those answers probably won't be clear until the summer, he added.
"I was very pleased that he maintained his steadiness on his economic recovery program," said Walter Wriston, chairman of Citi corp and an active Reagan supporter in the 1980 campaign.
Richard Lesher, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, called Reagan's rejection of higher taxes a "gutsy display of courage," given the pressure on the president for immediate action on the deficit.
Without providing details, Reagan said he would keep the budget deficit below $100 billion in the 1982 fiscal year by closing $24 billion in loopholes in business taxes over the next three years. Part of that effort will include imposition of a new minimum tax on profitable corporations that currently are able to avoid taxes.
"We feel our members will have some problems with that the minimum tax , said Jasinowski, "but it will have to be judged after we see the details. We will look at it closely to see if we can support it."
Walker Merryman, vice president of the Tobacco Institute, applauded Reagan's refusal to raise federal excise taxes, as some advisers and cabinet members had advocated, saying the industry's opposition "obviously made an impression."
A spokesman for the housing industry, however, said the absence of major new tax programs in the next fiscal year ensures a high deficit and a continuation of damagingly high interest rates. "We just don't see a way for interest rates to be reduced with those kinds of deficits," Julio LaGuarta, president of the National Association of Realtors, told the Associated Press.
The Reagan message "did not really address the deficit issue at all," said Otto Eckstein, president of Data Resources Inc., a Lexington, Mass., economic forecasting firm. "You have to say that the deficits are going to grow and remain huge for several years and that means higher interest rates.
"And that means continued bad news for the housing and automobile industries and the economy as a whole," Eckstein said.
Roger B. Smith, chairman of General Motors Corp., limited his reaction to the change in the Clean Air Act promised Tuesday by Reagan. The higher emission limits sought by the industry would permit manufacturers to eliminate some of the sophisticated equipment now required on most U.S.-built cars, a break the auto industry "desperately needs," Smith said.
Alone among top auto industry executives, Chrysler Chairman Lee A. Iacocca has criticized the president's program and the credit policies of the Federal Reserve Board as being too damaging to the auto industry and other sectors of the economy. Iacocca had called for higher excise taxes with a portion of the revenues returned to consumers who buy new autos, in the form of additional tax credits. That course was decisively rejected Tuesday.