Senate Finance Committee Chairman Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) and Martin Feldstein, the president's chief economic adviser, said yesterday that any attempt to accelerate the 1983 income tax cut to stimulate the economy would not address the economy's real problems and would probably be rejected by Congress.
President Reagan is considering asking Congress to advance the effective date of the tax reduction from July 1 to Jan. 1 in an effort to put more cash into consumers' hands.
But Dole, echoing doubts expressed earlier by other key congressional Republicans, said he could not detect "any enthusiasm" for the idea, which he said would only increase the federal budget deficit.
Dole, interviewed on "This Week With David Brinkley" (ABC, WJLA), said that he understands the president's desire to stimulate spending by consumers who have been holding on to their money, but added, "we have seen a lot of recipes for economy stimulation, and most of them haven't worked very well. I would guess that it will probably not happen."
Feldstein, speaking on "Meet the Press" (NBC, WRC), said the tax proposal has "pluses and minuses" and was the "basis for reasonable differences of opinion" in the administration. But, he said, "I tend to the think the pluses are outweighed by the minuses."
Despite the lack of enthusiasm that has greeted the accelerated tax cut proposal since it was floated by the White House, Reagan reportedly has not given up on the idea. He is said to be considering a plan in which the tax-cut acceleration would be coupled with a gasoline tax increase to fund a highway-repair program that would create jobs.
Feldstein, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, said that the economy is at the brink of a "moderate recovery" and that the important task facing Congress and the administration is not further tinkering with tax laws but action to reduce domestic spending and cut budget deficits.
The deficit for the 1984 fiscal year is likely be $150 billion to $200 billion without "significant actions" to reduce federal spending, Feldstein said. The latter figure is $15 billion higher than that projected last week at a Cabinet meeting by Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman.
But Feldstein turned aside suggestions that the "significant actions" must include substantial reductions in defense spending. He said defense spending, as a percentage of gross national product, had declined from more than 9 percent in 1960, before the Vietnam war, to 6 percent today and would go back up to only 8 percent under Reagan's buildup.
Although the economy is "ready to recover," Feldstein said, unemployment, currently at 10.4 percent, is likely to be "in the 9 percent range" in 1983 and between 8 and 9 percent in 1984. It might decrease to 6 or 7 percent "a few years later," he said, if the recovery continues.
This rate of reduction of unemployment, he said, "is not enough." He said the administration is developing "policies which aim at that structural unemployment, that 6 1/2 or 7 percent of structural unemployment, young people, people who have found themselves displaced because of industries that are going through major change."
He declined to specify what job-creation proposals are being contemplated.
Feldstein said "no one can put a precise date on when the recovery is going to begin," but he reckoned without Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige. Asked that question on Brinkley's program, Baldrige quipped, "Dec. 17 at 10 a.m."