President Carter met with his top economic advisers yesterday to hammer out basic decisions on his coming tax-revision package, but officials said the proposal won't be ready for unveiling for several more days.
There were no formal announcements of what took place at the five-hour session, but aides said the President was expected to call for toughening some of the proposals drafted for him by the Treasury Department.
The overall tax package is expected to include between $20 billion and $22 billion in tax cuts - about $15 billion for individuals and $5 billion to $7 billion aimed at stimulating business investment.
Carter spent the weekend at Camp David, Md., poring over various option papers prepared by the Treasury. The President was said to have reviewed the entire set of proposals, but reportedly he made no firm decisions.
The White House is working undersomething of a deadline. Rep. A1 Ullman (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has warned that the package must be sent up soon as hearings can begin in this session of Congress, a move he regards as crucial to passage.
At the same time, the White House has promised Senate leaders it will not unveil the tax revisions until that chamber has completed action on the Presidents energy legislation, in order to avert any damage from political tradeoffs.
The President told reporters yesterday morning he had not made any decisions on the package during his that "it won't be long." The White House had no comment after the meeting.
Yesterday's meeting involved top policymakers, including W. Michael Blumenthal, the Secretary of the Treasury; Charles L. Schultze, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and James T. McIntyre, the acting budget director.
The only subcabinet officials to attend were Laurence N. Woodworth, assistant secretary of the treasury for tax policy, who is heading Carter's tax-revision task force, and Stuart Eizenstat, the President's domestic adviser.
proposals the President was expected to stiffen included one onwhether to tax capital gains at death and one on whether to end the ability of corporations in defer taxes on foreign-source income.
Capital gains are the profits earned from the sale of a stock or other asset. At present only half capital gain is subject to tax, and capital gains at death go virtually untaxed.
Carter had promised during last year's election campaign to tighten both provisions, but has been urged to go slow by the business community. Blumenthal, in particular, has been pushing for postponement of the foreign-deferral proposal.
In addition to what provisions to included Carter also must decide on the timing and scope of the taxi-revision package, and possibly whether to speed up the proposed tax cuts for individuals to bolster the economy.
The Treasury recommendations were sent to the White House on Sept. 23, but so far there has been no word of any presidential decisions. Carter was reported to be reading over the proposals in detail.
Yesterday's session was Carter's first full-blown meeting on the tax package since August and, by some accounts, by far the longest.