The Carter administration is beginning what it calls "full-scale consultations" with business, Congress and organized labor in an effort to win broad support for a revised version of its wage-price guidelines program next fall.
President Carter hopes to involve all sides in the planning and thus ensure cooperation when the changes take effect,
The effort came about after policy-makers conceded that the lack of broad-scale consultations before the original guidelines program was announced last October had been a major factor in stirring up opposition to the program.
Although the White House claimed last fall to have consulted widely with business and labor groups before unveiling the guidelines, the sessions were mainly to announce decisions already made, not to seek outside advice.
Labor leaders in particular complained that key elements of the wage-price program, such as Carter's ill-fated proposal for a "real wage insurance tax credit, were "sprung" upon them with no warning.
As a result, the AFL-CIO, for example, vigorously opposed the "real wage insurance" proposal and several key businessmen and members of Congress were critical of the overall guidelines program as well.
Carter's instructions to his policymakers were to listen to and discuss any suggestions except those for mandatory wage-price controls. The president still reject these as unnecessary and unworkable.
The discussions will be held between members of Carter's cabinet level Economic Policy Group and business, labor and congressional leaders. Anti-inflation chief Alfred E. Kahn reportedly will head the talks with Congress.
The administration had just begun planning for the second year of the guidelines program, which begins next October. Officials want to decide on any changes by late summer, in time to publish the new regulations for comment.
Policymakers say their major challenge for 1979-80 will be to prevent the price increase of 1979 form "spilling over" into sharply higher wage demands in 1980. Once inflation becomes "built into" wage demands they day, it becomes harder to slow.
Guideline-planners say they also will have to deal with the question of "equity" between those who received sharp cost-of-living increases this year and those whose contracts did not contain such clauses.
The disparity between those workers whose contracts have cost-of-living clauses and those whose contracts do not has skewed traditional relationships between pay scales of various unions, posing a major threat to wage moderation.