Percy urges Reagan: try tough action, softer words
As the verbal missiles fly between Moscow and Washington, the new Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman warns that the barrage of tough talk from President Reagan and Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. "may be counterproductive."
Instead, Sen. Charles H. Percy (R) of Illinois called for tough action at home as well as abroad before an overflow crowd here at the University of Chicago.
Senator Percy explained that some of the action he wants would continue Carter policies and conflict with stated Reagan objectives -- specifically in the areas of SALT II and nuclear arms control, the Soviet grain embargo, and the proposed three-year, 30 percent personal income tax cut.
Percy stressed that with Republicans in control of the Senate for the first time in 26 years, GOP senators share a responsibility to support a new president elected with "this tremendous mandate."
Specifically, Percy called for:
* Eliminating excessive federal regulation, which "costs consumers an extra $ 130 billion each year" and "creates inflation."
* Cutting out wasteful duplication in government programs.
* Applying sunset laws to all government operations.
* Using tough private debt collection methods to gather the $47 billion that private citizens owe the US government.
* Changing minimum wage laws to open the job market to minority youth.
Calling himself "an industrialist essentially, not a politician," Percy said the main domestic objective must be "perfecting our economic system so that it offers greater security for our people and greater growth for our economy." He said this must begin with stimulating business through "slashing capital gains tax" and speedier depreciation to encourage capital investment -- moves he feels will create needed jobs.
He called the 30 percent tax cut proposal "foolhardy" because "incentives for business must be put ahead of cuts for individuals" -- adding that, in any case, the popularity of tax cuts would soon "be overshadowed by the unpopularity of cutting spending."
Percy said he deliberately chose to chair the Foreign Relations Committee because it is confronted by "the question of war and peace, the question of a stable world, the question of stable markets for our exports."
"Our highest priority," he said to loud applause, "must be to stop the nuclear arms race." He praised Carter efforts on SALT II and his responding to Soviet aggression in Afghanistan by embargoing grain and high- technology equipment and withdrawing from the Moscow Olympics. He said students should have shown their support by welcoming draft registration.