President Carter yesterday introduced the economic revival program the counts on as a foundation for growth in the next decade and as a campaign counter to Ronald Reagan's claims that Carter is leading the nation to economic disaster.
The package includes $27.6 billion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses, including a new refundable investment tax credit and about $3.6 billion in aid for economically distressed areas research and development and a bundle of energy conservation measures.
But Carter said none of the tax cuts will be sent to Congress before next year, and again ruled out a preelection tax-cut bill.
"Our task is nothing less than to revitalize America's economy. Increasing productivity is the foremost economic challenge of the 1980s," Carter told members of Congress, governors, local officials and representatives of business and labor who were invited to the White House to hear him introduce his program.
"We will meet the challenge of a more productive America as if our economic life depended on it -- because it does," the president said in outlining his plans, which aim to add almost 1 million jobs by the end of 1982, revitalize obsolescent industrial plants, make American exports more competitive, boost small business and overhaul the nation's port and transportation network.
Carter's proposed tax cuts, more than half for businesses, would boost the 1981 budget deficit from $30 billion to $36 billion, according to administration officials.
Carter called the refundable tax credit for business "a profound change in American tax policy."
He also called for more rapid depreciation schedules for businesses to stimulate new investment.
About $2.4 billion in 1981 would be spent to increase research, repair highways, retrain workers, insulate homes or otherwise make them more energy-efficient and assist distressed areas.
Carter also created a new Economic Revitalization Board composed of business, labor and public leaders headed by Du Pont Chairman Irving Shapiro and AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland.
For individuals, Carter proposed an end to the "marriage penalty" under which a married working couple pays more tax than if each were single.
Workers and well as employers would benefit from a Social Security tax credit and aimed at offsetting the Social Security increases that will take effect next year.
Carter also proposed larger tax credits for low-income families.
Carter expects the program to be a central part of his reelection campaign, but the only item that is to be sent to Congress before next year is his request for an immediate 13-week extension of unemployment benefits to a total of 52 weeks.
"Now, in the heat of an election year, is not the time to seek votes with ill-considered tax cuts that would steal back in inflation the few dollars the average American taxpayer would get," the president said in reference to Reagan, who proposes a 10 percent across-the-board tax cut.
Carter pledged that he would not accept a pre-election tax bill. The Senate Finance Committee has approved a bill that would reduce next year's taxes by about $39 billion.
The heat of the election year, however, incubated the renewal program -- Carter's fifth economic plan in less than four years.
The president and his advisers began working on the new plan last spring, when both Reagan and Sen. Edward M. Kenney (D-Mass.) were making the economy a main element of their attacks on his administration.
Reagan and Kennedy diverged along predictable lines in their reaction to the new plan.
Reagan called the plan a "short-term political quick fix" that will leave "people out of work, people out of money and people out of hope."
Kennedy, who supports the president's reelection but had urged him to include stronger jobs programs and antirecession federal projects in the economic package, expressed approval.
"The program announced today indicates a genuine concern for rejuvenating our economy and providing jobs to our workers . . . [it] offers real hope to American workers and significant prospects for economic renewal," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said that, as a result of his conversation with the president, the package calls for increased jobs, but that even more jobs program are needed.
House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) issued a statement saying Carter's plan is "the responsible route to go."
"I will be working to pass this year the extra weeks of unemployment compensation and countercyclical aid [to depressed communities], and I agree we should wait on tax issues untile next year so we don't set off an inflationary spiral now," O'Neill said.
Independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson said, "Jimmy Carter has mismanaged the American economy for four years, and the new plan . . . does not change that." He labeled as "economic pie in the sky" the plan that would propose tax cuts and tax incentives to business in an effort to "reindustrialize this country and give it price stability and a non-inflationary economy."
Republicans said Carter's plan was a poor imitation of the Senate Finance Committee's bill and the Reagan proposal.
Sen. Bob Dole (Kan.), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said Carter's proposal was "poorly designed and obviously timed to fit the current political needs of the Carter-Mondale campaign."
Sen. John G. Tower (R-Tex.) called the plan a "partial plateful of economic leftovers designed to divert public attention from 3 1/2 years of economic failure."
Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, said, "It's 67 days before the election and Jimmy Carter comes up with another quick fix, like he hasn't been here for four years."
Carter's program is an atypical election-year plan. Since it asks nothing in 1980 except an immediate temporary extension of unemployment benefits by 13 weeks to a total of 52 weeks, it is offering no quick and easily understandable reward for the man in the street.
The tax reduction package for 1981 is weighted in favor of business as opposed to individuals. As a rule the effect of giving business more cash to invest is greater throughout the economy than the effect of giving individuals more cash to spend.
The political impact, however, is less predictable.
White House press secretary Jody Powell said yesterday that the Carter plan will be welcomed and understood by voters in part because the White House is making a major effort to explain it across the country in interested groups.
"One thing that people understand very clearly and appreciate," Powell said, "is that this is not an attempt to put trinkets under everybody's Christmas tree."
Carter's 30-minute speech introducing the program and administration officials who briefed reporters stressed the words "simple solutions" and "responsible." There are becoming key code words in the presidential campaign. Carter accuses Reagan of proposing simple solutions, and seeks to contrast his own actions as responsible.
The Carter program puts emphasis on reviving obsolescent industry, and should therefore appeal to the older industrial states crucial to the election. s
It also includes many of the innovation urged by small business representatives at the White House Conference on Small Business. Among them: the accelerated and liberalized regulations governing business depreciation, the refundable tax credit, deductions on small business startup costs and the employer Social Security tax credit.
The White House considers the small business package the most comprehensive attempt to help that sector of the economy in a long time.
In preparing the revitalization plan, the White House consulted a wide range of business, labor, political and social action group leaders, and administration officials are counting on the approval of those people as well as the groups to whom the package has been explained to lead to support from others who may not take the time to study the details of what Carter and Reagan are proposing.
Reagan denounced the Carter program shortly after it was announced to help had been damaged in the first place by Carter policies.
The refundable investment tax credit, he said, is "a sop to some of those industries which have been badly undercut by economic fallout of Carter's previous new economic programs."
Reagan said the Social Security tax offset was "merely federal paper-shuffling." Reagan said, "A typical family will have to pay an additional $78 into the U.S. Treasury by way of higher Social Security taxes and then, according to Mr. Carter's proposal, get it back through tax credits.
"That just doesn't make sense," he said.