John B. Anderson, the independent presidential candidate who has portrayed himself as less conservative than most republicans and less liberal than many Democrats, has set forth an economic platform for his campaign that does seem to strike a middle ground between the two major party platforms.
The 84-page discussion of the economy that constitutes the first chapter of the platform Anderson made public last weekend seems to place less reliance on government action than the Democratic Party's 1980 platform, but also seems less willing than the Republicans' platform to leave the nation's economic fate in the hands of the private sector.
And the Anderson statement, while sharing the major parties' optimism that problems such as unemployment, inflation and sluggish productivity can be overcome, sounds less hopeful that the solutions can be found quickly.
Like the Republicans and Democratic platforms, the Anderson "National Unity Campaign" program says that inflation can be reduced considerably and that the federal budget can be balanced.
But the Anderson platform adds that an anti-inflation effort will have only gradual effect. A balanced budget, it says, is probably a sometime thing, with federal surpluses possible in prosperous years but deficits likely in hard times.
The Anderson platform, like the other parties', calls for reform of the federal tax code. But it also sets forth an array of proposals for new tax exemptions and credits to achieve various economic goals.
Tax incentives are offered, for example, as the "carrot" that would make Anderson's anti-inflation "guidelines" acceptable to labor and industry. "An Anderson administration will seek to call labor and industry leaders together to agree upon fair and realistic wage and price guidelines," the platform says, "and to determine an appropriate means of encouraging compliance with those standards through tax-based incentives."
The platform also calls for various tax bonuses to help large and small businesses increase productivity.
It proposes a temporary exemption from Social Security taxes for both the worker and the employer to encourage firms to create new jobs.
It calls for increased personal income tax exclusions to encourage people to put their money in savings accounts or corporate stocks. Specifically, Anderson would increase from $200 to $750 "the dividend and interest income an individual could exclude from income on the federal tax return."
Like the major party platforms, Anderson's program calls for cuts in corporate income tax rates to stimulate the economy. Unlike the others, though, the independent does not call for a general tax-rate cut for individuals, except Americans living abroad. The platform says that either the large-scale tax cut backed by the Republicans or the milder reduction contemplated by the Democrats would have an unacceptable impact on inflation.
Anderson's platform endorses "full employment," and praises the Humphrey-Hawkins bill, in which "full employment" was defined as an economy with employment no higher than 4 percent of the adult labor force. But there is no call for the kind of big government jobs-creating program set forth in the Democratic platform, and the document expresses skepticism about such federal employment programs as the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA).
Anderson's program echoes the other party platforms by stating that government regulations of industry has contributed to inefficiences that hinder America's ability to compete in world markets.
To bring about "regulatory reform," Anderson would create a trigger mechanism in which Congress would be required to revise the federal regulatory framework by a certain date or else no further regulations could be issued.
Anderson calls for voluntary agreements with other nations to reduce imports of products such as automobiles and steel and thus reduce competitive pressure on American manufacturers.
The Anderson economic platform differs from those of the other two parties in that it bluntly criticizes policies of earlier administrations on both parties. And while it has its share of generalities and abstractions it offers more specific proposals for change than either of the other two platforms.