Vice President Mondale, in an attempt to deflect criticism onto Congress and away from President Carter, yesterday accused Congress of stalling social legislation and tax relief measures that would benefit the poor and minority groups.
"Send them a message in the final days of the session to pass the bills," Mondale told a convention of the National Urban League.
Mondale's speech here in which he blamed Congress for blocking bills that would benefit low-income families and unemployed youth was regarded as a response to a speech Sunday by National Urban League President Vernon E. Jordan Jr. who criticized both Congress and Carter.
"This administration, though it supports many of the things we want, does not fight hard enough for them," Jordan said. "The administration apparently lacks the will to put its power and its prestige on the line for issues vital to minorities and poor people. We haven't seen the kind of massive drive mounted for full employment or for urban policy that we saw for the Panama Canal Treaties and the Middle East arms deal."
Jordan was even harder on what he called "a callous Congress marked by inaction and intransigence." He was particularly critical of congressional attempts to divert Comprehensive Employment and Training Act funds from the long-term unemployed, to pass a tuition tax credit benefiting the middle class and "to wipe out HUD's efforts to target community development funds."
These bills and others were part of a long litany of measures cited by Mondale in his criticism.
Mondale said that Congress had ignored the needs of poor people and umemployed youth.
"In every city, the young people are facing unemployment and, although strong in body and in health, are told we have nothing for you," Mondale said. "No nation can afford to squander a generation."
Mondale's speech was warmly received at a convention where the level of criticism for Carter is far less than it was a year ago when Jordan delivered a blistering attack on the administration. This year the focus has been on a backlash against minorities - what Jordan calls "the new negativism" - and Congress has borne the brunt of the rhetorical attacks.
In his introductory remarks, Mondale said to Jordan that he had read his speech and quipped, "They're getting better every year."
The vice president left immediately after the speech for a brief vacation in southern Canada with his family.