Changing U.S. Middle East policy to achieve lower imported oil prices would be "a fatal brew" of appeasement and political accomodation, Republican presidential contender Rep. John B. Anderson said yesterday.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is not held together by political agreement but by the desire to make money, Anderson said, "It would be a fatal brew indeed if we were to mix the politics of the Middle East with the economics of oil."
The Illionis Republican's speech to the National Press Club was another strong attack on the Middle East prescription of former Texas governor John Connally, also a candidate for the Republican nomination. Connally recently proposed sending U.S. troops to guarantee both the existence of Israel and of a seperate Palestinian state.
"Such appeasment is an dangerous and irresponsible approach," Anderson said.
As an alternative energy policy, Anderson reiterated his proposal for a 50-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline. "If we do not tax our consumption of energy, you can be sure that the OPEC oil cartel will do it for us," he said.
We now know where the path of least political resistance leads," he said. "It leads to gas lines."
Anderson, the only Republican liberal in the presidential sweepstakes, called for "a consumer cartel strategy" developed with Japan and Western Europe to deal with OPEC by imposing tariffs or other restrictions on oil imports.
In another veiled attack on Connally, Anderson said the answer to U.S. economic problems was "not just to tell the Japanese that they can sit on the docks of Yokohama watching their Sonys and eating their oranges," which is what Connally has advised.
That is not the solution to making American products more competitive . . .
nor is it likely to open markets in Japan," he said.
He called for tax incentives for savings and investment, such as liberalized capital depreciation allowance, and for a "thorough and ongoing review" of government regulatory policries he called "anticompetitive and detrimental to the public welfare."
Anderson, 57, expressed some annoyance with those who write off his candidancy, or call him at best a vice presidential longshot. While he did not rule out accepting a vice presidential nomination, he said that his "candid candidacy" would win him the top slot.
I am getting a little weary of being written off as a serious candidate just because I want to talk seriously about the issues," he said.
Asked whether he would prefer to face President Carter or Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts as the Democratic nominee, Anderson said a Kennedy candidacy "gives me a better chance to get nominated."
Not only would he be able to take away some of Kennedy's votes among women, blacks and social activists, he said, "but we could stipulate at the outset that the past four years have been terrible ad we want no more of that."