President Carter called today for enactment of legislation to overhaul the federal goverment's regulatory machinery, which, he said, has deteriorated into "a bewildering mass of paperwork, bureaucracy and delay."
In a speech to the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters here, Carter said he will submit to Congress tomorrow legislation to revise the regulatory process and end what he called "needless rules, excessive costs, duplication, overlap and waste" in government rulemaking.
The measure would strengthen and expand an executive order the president issued last year, extending its provisions for the first time to independent regulatory agencies such as the Interstate Commerce Commission and Federal Communications Commission.
Its key provision would require all regulatory agencies to examine and publish the costs and benefits of alternative methods to achieve their objectives before issuing new regulations.
The measure would require a review of all existing government regulations, force agencies to set agendas and deadlines for their actions, and authorize $20 million to underwrite the cost to individuals and nonprofit groups of participation in the regulatory process. It would also revise the Administrative Procedure Act, placing the now-independent administrative law judges under more direct government control.
White House officials, three of whom flew here from Washington today to brief reporters on the Proposal, said hearings on the legislation are scheduled to begin in the Senate in April and in the House in May. They said the measure has some backing from business, but could be opposed by environmental, consumer and similar groups which fear that revision of the process will weaken government protections for individuals.
Following the speech, the president answered several questions from the broadcasters, defending his voluntary anti-inflation program to one questioner who suggested that none of the actions by the administration seems to be curbing the rise in prices and wages.
Appealing for more time to see the results of the administration effort, Carter said businesses had taken advantage of "loopholes" in the administration's price guidelines and said those guidelines would be "tightened up." He also said the administration will soon publicly name "four or five companies" which have violated the price guidelines.
"I'm not about to abandon a very tough posture of controlling wages and prices on a voluntary basis," he said.
In response to another question, Carter said that history may record the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, set for tomorrow afternoon on the front lawn of the White House, as the most significant event of his presidency. He called the treaty a permanent and "very significant first step" toward a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors, which he predicted will ultimately be achieved.
The president also said that he has not made decisions on decontrol of domestic oil and other energy questions, but suggested that such decisions are close. He is tentatively scheduled to announce new energy policy decisions in a nationally televised speech Thursday.
In his speech to the broadcasters, Carter said 90 federal regulatory agencies now issue 7,000 new rules a year.
"Our challenge," he said, "is to pursue the legitimate goals of regulation in ways that are rational. For far too long, we have acted as if we could throw another law and another rule at every problem in our society without thinking seriously about the consequences. When I came to Washington I found a regulatory assembly line which churned out new rules, paperwork, regulations and forms without plan, without direction and seemingly without control.'
Such a system, the president said, "eats up productivity and capital for investment," as a result feeding inflation.
"Americans are willing to spend a fair share of their resources to achieve social goals through regulation, but they want their money's worth," he declared. "They will not support -- and I will not permit -- needless rules, excessive costs, duplication, overlap and waste."
Carter flew here today after attending Sunday school and church services this morning in Elk City, Okla., where he had stayed after conducting a "town meeting" there Saturday night.
The president's first stop in Dallas was the home of his special trade representative, Robert S. Strauss, who hosted an outdoor lunch around a swimming pool. White House officials insisted the event was not "political" or a "fund-raiser," but it attracted a number of wealthy political contributors, public officials and well-known political figures, among them Lady Bird Johnson.
Carter was joined at the Strauss home by his chief political adviser, Hamilton Jordan, his congressional relations chief, Frank Moore, his communications adviser, Gerald Rafshoon, and the recently named treasurer of his reelection campaign committee, John Dalton.