President Carter, declaring that "everyone in the country has gotten the message," has stepped up his efforts to associate himself with the California taxpayers' revolt.
Carter, in a delicately worded interview, warned that Congress should take heed of the revolt and its repercussions elsewhere. At the same time, he chided lawmakers for big spending habits and their failure to accept his proposals to reduce income taxes by $20 billion.
The people of California "have spoken very clearly," he said. "And I certainly don't have any criticism of what they have done."
But, he added, the people who will suffer from the state's approval of tax-slashing Proposition 13 "are the poor and the dependent."
"Obviously, this is a very good thing for property owners who are economically able to take care of their own needs," the president said in an interview with out-of-town editors.
"The ones who suffer are those who don't own property and those who have to be more dependent upon government services and have to send their kids to the public schools or have to be more dependent upon public health services."
Proposition 13, approved by a 2-to-1 ratio last Tuesday, sets limits on real estate taxation and further restricts other forms of taxation to compensate for the subsequent loss of revenue.
Although the president said, "I certainly welcome this kind of experimentation," he conceded that he would have been "quite concerned" had property taxes been cut 50 percent while he was governor of Georgia.
"I think this is the kind of thing that is going to work a very great challenge to Gov. Brown," Carter said. The California governor, Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr., is frequently mentioned as a possible Democratic challenger to Carter in 1980.
Asked if Congress might seek to impose a similar spending limit on him, Carter said, "I would be greately surprised. You know; we have put forward a proposal to Congress to cut income taxes by $20 billion," he said."The Congress has not been willing to go along with cutting income taxes at all so far."
He also criticized Congress for moving to increase his spending requests. "Our main concern about Congress is not unacceptable levels of spending, too low, but too high," Carter told the editors."
On other matters, the president and his decision last week to allow the importation of 200 million additional pounds of beef will lower the price of hamburger by 4 cents to 5 cents a pound.
The move, sharply attacked by beef producers, is "a very modest approach" which "will not have an adverse effect on beef producers in the long run," he said.
He said "chances are good" for passage of the labor law revision bill now that an amendment has been introduced to eliminate about 78 percent of business, primarily "the very small businesses," from it.
On foreign affairs, Carter told the editors that differences with the Soviet Union in the strategic arms limitation talks (SALT) have been narrowed down to 'a very small number of items, still very significant" but that "we don't see the end in sight yet."
He reiterated his view, stated in his Annapolis speech last Wednesday, that the prospects for a SALT agreement are good. He gave no timetable.
"We are quite concerned about Africa," Carter told the editors, but, unlike most of his recent statements on the subject, he made no mention of Soviet and Cuban intervention in that continent.
He said it is "a step in the right direction" that the United States has strengthened its ties of friendship, trade, understanding and communication with previously distrustful African leaders.