Following are excerpts from President Carter's news conference eysterday:
QUESTION: Mr. President, I have heard some people suggest - maybe you called them cynics - that your proposal for a standby gasoline tax is a bargaining chip to be traded later for something else that you really want. I want to know, are you deeply committed to the tax idea or are you a little queasy about it?
ANSWER: I am deeply committed to the standby gasoline tax as part of a comprehensive and well-balanced and overall energy program. In my opinion, the gasoline tax is a good idea. As a matter of fact, it will help greatly families who participate in the program by cutting down on gasoline consumption.
When the 5-cent gasoline tax is put into effect, if people don't conserve, then that means that the federal Treasury will receive about $6 billion in additional income. This will be regreatly families who participate in the United States on their income tax as a direct tax credit.
A family of four, for instance, would receive $100 either reduction in their tax payment or, if they don't pay taxes, they would get that much of a refund in any case. So a family with a car that gets, say, 27 miles per gallon, travels 10,000 miles per year, would pay $91 more in taxes. They would get back a credit of $500 if the 25-cent tax goes into effect.
So the benefits are great for families that conserve. The taxes will not be severe when this goes into effect. And if the people conserve, the tax won't go into effect at all. So I am deeply dedicated to the gasoline tax and will fight for it until the last vote in the Congress.
Q: Mr. President, the Senate has voted to increase the business tax credit to the tune of billions of dollars. You have approved millions of dollars in a tax break for the oil drillers which is contrary to the tax reform law. What is the average taxpayer supposed to think about all this?
A: As you know, I am not in favor of continuing the business tax credit that the Senate voted yesterday. This will be taken up either this aftermoon or early next week.
I intend to meet with Sen. Long later on today to discuss the effects of this tax bill. My own pisition against the business tax credit has been very clearly expressed and I will have to decide at the time the bill gets to my desk, if it passes, whether I can accept ir or not.
I believe that there have been erroneous reports made about the intangible drilling tax, to which I think you also refer.
The first part of the sentence, which has not been adequately emphasized is that we would like to do away with the special provisions under the tax shelter laws that permit doctors, lawyers, wealthy farmers, and others to invest in exploration for oil and receive benefits. But the present law does permit the intangible tax credit for corporations.
It does not permit the same tax credit for legitimate partnerships or individuals who have a full-time profession of drilling oil. That needs to be equalized.
Q: Mr. President, if the energy crisis is in wartime proportions, as you have indicated, why not rationing right now?
I have a follow-up.
A: There is a provision now in the law that permits me to impose gasoline rationing in case of a national emergency, and that would be a part of the overall energy package. If I feel at any time that the nation's security is in danger, for instance if there should be an embargo imposed, and I see no likelihood of this, then gasoline rationing would be a viable alternative.
Q: Are you saying there, Mr. President, rationing would be a fall-back position if milder measures proved out to be not sufficient?
A: That is correct. If the energy package that I have proposed to the Congress is adopted. I don't see any reason in the future of ever having rationing. However, I it is going to take us quite a while to build up to a billion-barrel oil reserve supply which could tide us over 10 months, even with an embargo. Until this is done, we are vulnerable. We are getting more and more vulnerable every year. But if the entire package is put into effect, and I certainly hope and expect it will, then I see no reason for gasoline rationing . . .
Q: A minute ago you said that all the money would be refunded in the form of direct tax payments, yet some of your advisers said that some of the refunds would begin the form of other payments.
What percentage of the rebates would be used by you to pay the cost of federalizing the welfare program and other payments, rather than direct refunds?
A: We still have to have some flexibility about exactly what we do. I can't certify today that every nickel of the taxes collected will be refunded to consumers.
There will be, for instance, for those who use fuel to heat their homes, or at the time they pay their fuel bills, that increase in the price will be part of that settlement and they won't have to pay the higher price for fuel as it relates to home heating.
This is particularly important in the New England states.If we do refund, however, all the wellhead tax which goes on one step at a time for three years, this will bring in enough money to give a credit, a tax credit, by 1980 of about $188 per family. As I said before, for each 5 cents that we add onto the gas tax if it is imposed, because of the continued waste that will be about $100 per family; that is, if all the tax is refunded to the family.
That is our present plan. Of course, we will have to work on that with the Congress in the months ahead.
Q: Can I follow up on that?
Q: As you developed this energy program, however, was it in your mind that a substantial portion of the additional tax revenues that would come in to the government by some estimates as much as $70 billion a year by 1985 would be used for other domestic social welfare programs, the federalization of the welfare program, and other unemployment programs, a substantial portion to be used ultimately for those purposes?
A: We considered a lot of options. Those that you mentioned were among the options that we did consider. We also thought about the possibility of refunding part of the gasoline tax through the payroll deductions for Social Security.
The judgment that was made just in the last few days was that it is better to keep the Social Security question separated from the energy tax, but all those options have been considered and I have described my present thinking about it now. But I don't know what I and the Congress will work out during the next two or three months ahead.
If a better option should arise, then this will ge debated openly and we will make a judgment accordingly. My present inclination is to see the gasoline taxes, to a substantial degree, and the fuel tax increases, to a substantial degree, are refunded directly to the people of the country in the form of tax credits.
Q: Mr. President, can you explain to us just how you have had to reassess the economic impact of the energy plan, the impact on inflation and general economic recovery?
A: Yes, I can do that. I believe. We have run a series of computer model analyses to try to predict as accurately as we can what the impact of the overall package will be if it is passed without change. There are varying results. The variations are not very substantial.
There is a general consensus that there will be some inflationary impact. I think the inflation would come along if we didn't have an energy package. But with the energy package intact, the inflationary impact would probably be less than one-half of 1 per cent per year.
Secondly, as far as economic stimulus is concerned, will it hold down our increase in our gross national product or will it cost the American people jobs? The most conservative and unfavorable analysis shows that it will have no adverse impact. Some computer model studies show that it will actually increase the number of jobs by several hundred thousand and have a beneficial effect on our economy.
So, to summarize, it will have some inflationary impact. It will definitely not have an adverse impact on jobs or economic growth. It might have some beneficial impact on jobs and economic growth . . .
Q: Mr. President, now that you have asked Congress to continue regulation of all natural gas except deep well gas and to extend the regulation to the intrastate market, would you concede that your campaign promise to the governors of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, that you would work with Congress to deregulate natural gas or new natural gas, has gone down the drain?
A: No. I think if you would read the statement I made to the Congress the other night, I specifically said that I will continue to work with the Congress to a deregulation of newly discovered natural gas.What we have done so far - I think I went on to say when economic circumstances permit. What we have done so far is to set the newly discovered price of natural gas at the same price as its equivalent in energy of oil, which is the international price. So this is a substantial move, and I believe that my campaign commitment which never put any time limit is indeed intact.
Q: Mr. President, do you foresee a recommendation to eventually take the cap off of gas; that is, as long as there is a cap on it, it would seem to be regulated? I wondered if that might be the eventual thing?
A: I think that would still have to remain for future analysis. I believe that in the definitions that have been given at least by some of the natural gas producers, setting the natural gas prices at its equivalent in oil, is an adequate level of deregulation. Others, of course, want complete deregulation of oil and gas.
I don't think it is possible for us to do that in the immediate future. I think the adverse impact on consumers and on our economy would just be too severe. I can't answer the question any better until I see what events bring in future months.
Q: Mr. President, are we going to transfer American battle tanks to Zaire? If so, why?
A: No, No decision has been made about that. The news stories that have come out recently about the possible sale of tanks to Zaire are a result of a study that was done a year of so ago before I became President.
This question has never come to my attention since I have been in office until this morning. I have made no decision about sending tanks to Zaire. And I think it is highly unlikely that I would advocate such a sale.
Q: Mr. President, do you agree with Vice President Mondale that former President Ford's criticism of your anti-inflation package was unseemly and unfair?
A: I haven't seen Vice President Mondale quoted on those lines. I think that the expression specifically that I heard Sen. Mondale, Vice President Mondale make, was that I believe that President Ford said that had he been in office for two months, he would have had a SALT agreement.
The fraternity of the Presidents and former Presidents is a very small one. I think there are only three of us. And historically in our country there has been a substantial effort by former Presidents to give support and counsel and advise and criticism in private whenever there was disagreement.
I don't feel threatened by President Ford's criticisms. I don't feel disturbed about his comparison between what he would have done, had he stayed in office, compared to what I have done. I am doing the best I can.
I have a good relationship with President Ford. And he has told me that his criticisms would be private and that his advise and counsel and help would always be available to me.
So I don't feel concerned about it. But I have to say that Vice President Mondale has a right to express his opinion.
Q: Mr. President, do you feel the former President has violated his promise by making his criticisms in public then?
A: No. I don't feel he has.
Q: Mr. President, during the campaign you said you favored legislation that would prohibit ownership of competing types of energy. You mentioned oil and gas, or oil and coal?
Q: When the energy package came out there was no mention of legislation believe that you cannot accomplish horizontal divestiture without legislation. How do you think you can accomplish it based upon the lack of success by the Justice Department?
A: My position has been that unless I was personally assured that adequate competition existed under existing antitrust laws and revelation of financial information that I would favor horizontal divestiture and divestiture on a vertical basis at the wholesale and retail levels of oil distribution.
The proposal that I made to the Congress the other night is I think a very strong and beneficial move to require the energy producers, the oil companies, and others, to report to the public their profit and loss on each individual component of energy production: extraction from the ground, including exploration; refining and distributing, and also break apart their domestic operations from their foreign operations.
I think when this information is analyzed, it will be almost instantly obvious that unfair competitive procedures are in effect within the energy-producing area, and the antitrust laws can take care of it.
If I ever feel convinced that there is still an absence of competition within the energy field after this proposal is put into effect, I would not hesitate to recommend a divestiture.
Q: But to take up another foreign policy question, your son, Chip, who was on a trip to China, has come back. You sent a message with him and may have gotten a message back. I wonder if you could tell us about that communication and, specifically, are you planning a trip to China or are they planning, any of their leaders, to come here in the near future?
A: The nature of the message is one just of friendship and goodwill and a mutual agreement that it is in the best interest of the world and our own countries to increase communication, trade, and ultimately, through compliance with the Shanghai agreement, to normalize relationships with China.
I don't anticipate any trips outside the countty this year except my trip early next month to London. And I will go to Geneva to meet with President Assad of Syria.
The Chinese Government have always taken the position that their leaders coming to our country would not be appropriate so longa s there is an ambassador here which represents the Republic of China on Taiwan. So I think even from the first visits there of President Nixon and Kissinger, this has been the Chinese position. I would certainly welcome the Chinese leaders to come to Washington to meet with me, as I would other leaders of nations, but I think I have described the situation now as best I can.
Q: Mr. President, in our getting briefed by Dr. Schlesinger, we didn't get much in the way of costs as far as your energy package went, and some of these figures are kind of impressive that I have been hearing about.
Is it true that you are going to spend about $13 billion on the stockpile of strategic oil, and it looks like about $5 billion to $10 billion in credits for corporations; tax credits for corporation? I don't know how much for individuals. But what is the total overall package cost, either by year of five years?
A: I will try to give you the toral cost as best I understand it.
All the way up through 1985, the total net outlay from the federal government, as best we can determine it - and a lot of this is conjecture, but it is based on computer analysis - would be $4 billion. That is a cumulative figure. That is outlays compared to receipts or revenues.
But with that $4 billion, we would have purchased and placed in storage a billion barrels of oil for a reserve in case we have an embargo or an emergency need for extraction of that oil.
So as you can well see, we will have, at present prices, $13 1/2 billion of oil owned by the government. The total outlay, including that purchase, would only be about $4 billion.
Q: You said that you would like to see natural gas in the intrastate market regulated at $1.75. That would mean a rollback in natural gas prices in the intrastate market. Would you be willing to compromise at a higher price in exchange for going into the intrastate market?
A: No. I think that the figure is based on equating the natural gas price throughout the nation with its equivalent cost for the same amount of energy in oil. And as that price of oil increases over a period of time, because of inflation or otherwise, then we hope that the natural gas price both within a state and transported across state lines will stay compatible with the price of oil.
Q: You described - Sen. Clark has described Zaire as a military dictatorship. How can you regard this as a defender of human rights?
A: I haver never defined Zaire as a defender of human rights. I know that there are some problems in Zaire with human rights as there are here and in many other countries. But our friendship and aid historically for Zaire has not been predicated on their perfection in dealing with human rights. I think, as you know, our military aid for Zaire has been very modest.
We have observed some stabilizing of the situation in the southern part of Zaire lately and I think our policy even in spite of the invasion from Angola by the Katangans has been compatible with our past policies.
Q: Are you sure that there are no Cubans in that group, Mr. President?
A: I am sorry?
Q: Cubans. We hear reports from King Hussein and General Mobutu that there are Cubans there.
A: Let me - I can't certify to this because we don't have observers all over the Shaba Region. The best information is that the Katangans have been trained within Angola by the Cubans.We have no direct evidence at all that there are Cubans within Ziare . . .