If independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson and his running mate, Patrick Lucey, are the victors in the Nov. 4 election, they can be expected to make new uses of two established governmental mechanisms -- tax incentives and trust funds -- to implement domestic policies.
The section of Anderson's National Unity Campaign" platform that deals with domestic issues is chock full of proposals for new tax credits, deductions and penalties to spur or deter various activities in the private sector. Anderson also calls for creation of four new multibillion-dollar federal trust funds to carry out his ideas.
The Republican and Democratic platforms also refer here and there to trust funds and tax benefits, but neither suggests an extensive use of these devices as Anderson contemplates.
A federal trust fund unlike normal federal spending where Congress annually allocates money from general revenues for a given purpose, designates particular revenues for a particular use years in advance. This system, used to build the interstate highway network, has the advantage of providing predictable funding for long-range projects. Its disadvantage in flexibility; a trust fund provides money for a particular use year after year whether its expenditure is justified or not.
The Anderson platform calls for a fund called the "Urban Reinvestment," or, at some points in the document "Urban Investment" fund. It would receive about $3.8 billion annually from federal alcohol and tobacco taxes. The money would be spent for rebuilding cities, from crumbling gutters to government buildings.
Alcohol and tobacco taxes also would fund a community Transportation Trust Fund for subways, buses, and other mass transit projects.
Tax incentives have been used by governments through history to encourage private citizens and companies to do things the government wants done but does not want to do itself. The use of tax laws to encourage social and economic action is often cheaper than direct governmental activity. But it complicates tax laws by creating new clauses and loopholes that taxpayers -- particularly the wealthy -- can use to reduce the amount they pay for government.
The Anderson platform, like those of the major parties, includes a stern call for simplification of the nation's tax system. But its discussion of various domestic concerns is studded with proposals for new tax incentives.
Anderson, for example, thinks that the sick and the elderly might be better cared for at home than in institutions. So he proposes a tax deduction for families who choose to support relatives at home instead of in nursing homes and hospitals.
There also are proposed tax credits or deductions to spur construction of multifamily housing, contributions to neighborhood improvement associations, hiring unemployed youths, and for making mortgage loans in certain urban areas. h
In addition, Anderson has proposed an important tax break for the wealthy. He would eliminate inheritance and gift taxes on money willed or given to spouses. Under current tax law, bequests and gifts to spouses and taxed if they total more than several hundred thousand dollars. Since only the largest bequests and gifts to spouses are taxed, Anderson's change would benefit only people in a position to give their spouses hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and property.
One frequently proposed tax break that Anderson does not endorse is a tax credit for private primary or secondary school tuition.
"Tax expenditures of this nature," the platform says, "would drain much needed resources from public education . . . The public school system's longstanding role as the principal provider of quality education is endangered."
The Republican platform favors tuition tax credits. The Democratic platform, after an angry argument within the party, fudged this issue.
The Anderson platform, characteristically, proposes tax deductions to help citizens meet health care needs. The platform differs from the Democrats' program by opposing a comprehensive federal health insurance system.
Like the major party platform Anderson's recognizes that the Social Security system faces a long-range financial deficit. But Anderson's is the only platform to suggest that one way to deal with this problem would be to reduce benefits or to increase the retirement age when benefits begin for Social Security recipients in the 21st century.
One area in which Anderson seems firmly committed to direct federal action is civil rights.
"We cannot be tax either in the monitoring or in the enforcement of affirmative action programs," the platform says. "An Anderson administration . . . will be prepared to use the threat of terminating federal funds to offending institutions and municipalities much more extensively than previous administrations have been."
The platform discusses the rights of women at length. It expresses strong support for the Equal Rights Amendment and for the private organizations' boycott of states that have not ratified the proposed constitutional change. The platform supports a woman's right to have an abortion. And it urges that the federal government continue to fund abortions for women who cannot afford to pay for them.
The platform says that Anderson would make particular efforts to find women for federal appointments in his adiminstration, "recognizing that highly qualified women are not as visible as highly qualified men."
Finally, for the 650,000 Americans who are deprived of full congressional representation because they live in the District of Columbia, Anderson's platform endorse the pending constitutional amendment that would give the District voting representatives in both houses of Congress.