President Carter does not intend to order the decontrol of gasoline prices at the conculsion of the domestic policy talks he is holding at Camp David, White House press secretary Jody Powell said yesterday.
Speaking to reporters by telephone from the presidential retreat, Powell said there is also general agreement among Carter and his advisers that it is too early to propose major economic measures to counter an expected recession later this year.
As the president scheduled additional meetings today on the energy and economic problems besetting the country, While House aides began preparing for the conclusion of the extraordinary Camp David talks and a Nationally televised speech by Carter.
Stressing that a timetable was not set, officials suggested that Sunday night is a likely time for the president to report on the results of the discussions and to deliver a "broader" speech on domestic policy than the one he had scheduled and then abruptly canceled last week.
On Monday, Carter is scheduled to speak to the National Association of Counties in Kansas City and the communication Workers of America in Detroit. Those appearances could be crucial tests of the president's effort to reassert his leadership role and reverse the sinking political fortunes of his administration.
Powell's statement yesterday on decontrol of gasoline prices and actions to deal with the recession the administration is now forecasting was one of the first concrete pronouncements on Carter's intentions since the president withdrew to Camp David last week.
Both Energy Secretary James R. Schlesinger Jr. and Treasury Secretary W. Michael Blumenthal had advocated a lifting of price controls on gasoline as a means to reduce gasoline demand and deal with the immediate problem of gasoline lines.
But Powell cited the impact such a decision would have on inflation and the economy generally, saying, "The president has no intention of deregulating gasoline at this time."
Powell said the administration has estimates that lifting of price controls would raise the price of gasoline to as much as $1.50 a gallon, during "tens of billions of dollars from the economy and significantly adding to the consummer price index."
The president's decision to maintain price controls on gasoline strongly suggested that he will also continue the present schedule of phasing in the decontrol of domestic crude oil prices and will maintain the gasoline allocation system.
Proposals to decontrol gasoline and crude oil prices immediately and to scrap the allocation system were the principal options Carter had to deal with the short-term problem of the gasoline lines.
Administration officials reportedly were deeply divided on the question of ending controls, and those divisions, according to some early accounts, contributed to the president's decision to cancel the energy speech last week.
But Powell said yesterday that the argument over whether to continue the controls "basically has been over for some time." yesterday, Carter conferred with his top economic advisers, including Blumenthal, Commerce Secretary Juanita M. Kreps and Labor Secretary Ray Marshall, and a broad spectrum of private economists, businessmen and labor leaders.
Powell said there as general agreement in the group that "this is not the time to be making decisions" to deal with the coming recession because more information on the direction of the economy is needed.
Powell thus appeared to rule out any major changes in administration economic policy as a result of the Camp David talks.
Congressional leaders who met with the president said yesterday that Carter is exploring the possibility of resubmitting his "real wage insurance" proposal, which would provide tax breaks to workers who accept modest pay increases.
But the congressional sources indicated that Carter would resubmit the proposal only if organized labor, a major factor in its earlier defeat, showed more enthusiasm for the idea.
Last night, the president continued the Camp David talks by conferring with 10 religious leaders. Unlike his discussions on the specifics of energy and economic policy, the unusual session appeared to be part of Carter's effort to deal with the general condition of American society as he moves toward politically crucial decisions on domestic policies.
White House officials gave no hint of when the Camp David "domestic summit conference" will end, except to say that it will continue through today.
Powell said the president will meet this morning with a group to discuss employment policy and this afternoon with another group of state and local officials.
The political stakes in the outcome of the talks were stressed yesterday by Dougllas Fraser, president of the United Auto Workers union and one of those who met with Carter to discuss the economy.
Fraser said the administration is "probably at the point of no return."
"This administration has to convey to the American people the problems confronting our society, and it has to be believable and it has to be acceptable," he said. CAPTION: Picture, Economist Walter Heller and Commerce Secretary Kreps meet with President Carter at Camp David yesterday. White House Photo via AP