Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said yesterday that President Carter has virtually no chance of winning approval for a standby gasoline tax.
Such a tax is "not do-able, politically or otherwise on the Hill, said jackson. "It's not going to be done."
He was interviewed on "Face the Nation" (CBS, WTOP).
Rep. Al Ullman (D-Ore.), chairman of the house Ways and Means Committee, also indicated yesterday that he foresees trouble for the gasoline tax. Citing Carter's proposal to return much of the tax to consumers through rebates, he said, "Maybe is saleable on that basis and maybe it isnt't."
Ullman emphasized that the gasoline tax is only part of the President's program, and said he preferred to folcus on the overall goal of reducing consumption.
"If you put the whole emphasis on the gasoline tax, you're ignoring what th energy program is all about," he said on "Issues and ANsers" (abc, WMAL). "It's a very,very small part of it, that doesn't mean we have have an energy program," Ullman sai.
Jackson, asked if he were (pronouncing the final death" of the gasoline tax replied that he was only one senator," but noted that other powerful congressional firgues. Such as chairman russell B. Lond (D-La.) of the senate Finance Committee, have "raised some rather iminous concerns.
However, Jackson said he believes the President is "on the right track in dealing with "a tzx on) gas guzzlers, because this is do-able." He added, "There's no reason why the industry cannot move to bring about more fuel-efficient automobiles."
Endorsing a tax on cars indicated something oof a turnabout for Jackson, or - as several of his aides put it - willingness to compromise.
Early in April Jacson was predicting a "political firestorm" on Capitol Hill if the President asked for a new sales tax on new automobiles that do no use gasoline efficiently.
"I see the auto workers and the industry coming in lock-step to Washington" to oppose the tax, Jackson said in an April 4 meeting with reporters.
But yesterday Jackson said of taxing gas-guzzlers: "I can support that course . . . That will be the main thrust in trying to cut down gasoline consumption."
Carter's standby gasoline tax would raise the federal excise 5 cents a gallon a year each year that gasoline consumption exceeds federal limits. The maximum tax increase over the next decade - beginning in 1980 - would be 50 cents a gallon. At present the tax is 4 cents a gallon.
The President's gasoline tax plan is "not do-able" because "we've learned that a tax on gasoline will not deter consumption," Jackson said. "We've had a 40 per cent increase in the cost of gasoline over the last three years, with consumption growth about the same as in the past," he said.
In order for a tax on gasoline to be effective. "It would really have to go up to close to $1 a gallon," Jackson said, and that "just won't do."
"At the other end, there's a tax on the so-called gas-guzzler and a rebate for the purchase of small cars," Jackson noted. "I think that's moving in the right direction . . . Whether it should be by a [direct] tax on the gas-guzzler or by law is something I think the Congress should want to look at," he said.
Under the President's gas-guzzler proposal, 1978 cars getting less than 13 miles per gallon would incur a $499 tax penalty, with a rebate rising to $473 for new cars rated at 39 mpg. The tax would eventually rise to $2.488 by 1985 for low-mileage cars.
In an interview published yesterday, United Auto Workers president Leonard Woodocck said his union would lobby vigorously against that proposal.
"I don't think the thing's been though through adequately," said Woodcock, an early Carter supporter who reportedly is in line to be ambassador to Peking.
Woodcock said the plan would punish families who need large cars and could possibly lead to an international tariff war with the small-car rebates.
Woodcock said his labor union supports reducing gasoline consumption by fining manufacturers whose cars don't meet federally mandated fleet averages for fuel economy.Currently, car makers must meet a fleet average of 18 mpg.