Labor Secretary-designate F. Ray Marshall yesterday sought to soften the impact of his Senate testimony Thursday that President-elect Jimmy Carter's economic stimulus program is too small and too heavily weighted toward tax relief.
The program is a "compromise" that satisfied no one entirely and his comments were intended as a statement of economic philosophy rather than "attack" on the package, Marshall told reporters during the briefing.
Marshall denied that Carter or Carter aides pressed him to make the clarification. He said he decided to do so after one of his own aides saw Marshall's dissent prominently displayed in the news and talked with Stuart Eizenstat, Carter's domestic policy assistant. Eizenstat responded that Carter's policy is to let Cabinet members speak their minds.
Marshall did not back off his contention during the confirmation hearings before the Senate Labor Committee that the two-year tax package of up to $10 billion in jobs, spending and $20 billion in tax rebates and cuts should have put more emphasis on spending for job-creating projects such as public works.
But he said public works fall within the jurisdiction of the Commerce Department rather than Labor and he accepted the judgement of other Carter economic advisers of limitations on public works spending.
He still thinks more public works jobs might be provided but he does not intend to continue arguing for them, Marshall said. He emphasized that he got all he asked for in public service employment and other job programs that fall under Labor Department jurisdiction.
As for his Senate committee testimony, he said, "Maybe it was a strategic mistake, but I think you should say what you think."
Although the AFL-CIO has sharply attacked the stimulus program, Marshall said relations between the incoming administration and labor are "too close" to be ruptured by such a disagreement. He said he had not made his comments with a view toward pleasing the AFL-CIO or other critics.