AFL-CIO President George Meany charged yesterday that the Carter administration is dominated by the tight-fisted economic theories of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Arthur F. Burns and said Burns should be retired.
Meany's renewal of his longtime feud with the powerful Fed chairman came as the AFL-CIO Executive Council wound up its two-day summer meeting, endorsing the administration's new Panama Canal treaties but criticizing its domestic policies "too timid."
Meany on Monday endorsed the agreements under which the United States would relinguish control of the canal to Panama by the year 2000, and the 35-member council, as is it custom followed Meany's example. The vote was unanimous despite some disagreement, Meany reported.
Meany's attack on Burns, whom he described as a "disaster," came in response to the Fed's action Monday to raise the so-called rate at which it lends money to member banks. The increase, from 5.25 per cent to 5.75 per cent, was described by sources at the central bank a "technical" step to catch up with other credit-tightening actions it has taken in recent weeks.
The net result of the Fed's policies Meany charged, is to tighten the money supply, thereby curtailing vestments and aggravating both inflation and unemployment.
Burns is just as influential in the new Democratic administration as he was in the previous' Republican regimes, said Meany, adding:
"I'm wondering when somebody in this government will take a look at this man (Burns) and retire him and see if we can't get our economy moving again."
Burns' term as Fed chairman expires next year, but this 14-year term on the board runs until 1984.
Asked if he planned to urge Carter not to reappoint Burns as chairman, Meany quipped: "No, I think that maybe I should ask the President to reappoint him, and then the President would wonder what the hell is going on. he might not reappoint him."
Meany also critized Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Charles L. Schulze as "just as wedded to the Burns philosophy as was Alan Greenspan (Schultz's Republican predecessor" and said:
"I would like to see some new faces there, not only Mr. Burns, but some new faces who would take a new look at the whole picture and not try to stick to the old philosophy - and that is, if you keep the big corporations wealthy, everything is going to be all right."
Meany also said with black leaders who have accused Carter of reneging on campaign promises, saying the President now seems to think "there will be dancing in the streets of the ghettos" if the budget is balanced.
Meany said he was not questioning Carter's concern for the poor or "disapproving of (him) as an individual" but "I think he should reorder his priorities" in favor of creating more jobs.
Meany exempted Labor Secrectary Ray Marshall from his criticism of administration economic advisers but said "he is limited as to the influence he has."
On the Panama Canal, Meany said the council's endorsement means "using whatever influence we have on members of the Congress" to ratify the treaties and approve implementing legislation.
The federation's support of the treaties appeared to be a departure from its normally hawkish stand on foreign relations, but the council said the pacts assure continued U.S. access to the canal and protection of union workers' job security and bargaining rights.