Simon Has Misgivings About Pending Anti-boycott Legislation but Will Advise Ford to Sign New Measure

Treasury Secretary William E. Simon said that despite misgivings on his part he would advise President Ford to sign new federal reform tax legislation with Arab boycott sanctions in it. In a weekend interview with nationally syndicated newspaper columnist Victor Riesel on his “Talk of the Town” WEVD radio program, Simon underscored the need “for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” as a means “of meeting this boycott problem.”

He told Riesel: “I believe that we’ve made great inroads in this boycott in the past year, and now we are in the process of reversing and exacerbating the tensions by all of the demagoguery that has gone on with this debate. We are not going to make this boycott any better. As a matter of fact, we are going to make it worse by passing legislation like this.”

Referring to legislation pending in Congress, Simon said that “it was extremely wrong” to use tax policy to get across anti-Arab boycott sentiment. “It is not the vehicle to use–tax policy–because it is impossible to administer something like an economic boycott. They’re using punitive measures denying tax credit, denying referral of corporate taxes if one is participating in this boycott,” he stated.

SAYS U.S. LOST BILLIONS OF DOLLARS

Simon said that “members of the Jewish community” have complained to him about not doing business “in this Arab country or that Arab country and I’ve asked them if they’ve tried. And they say we know it is not impossible.” Simon did not identify the members of the Jewish community. Nor did he identify Jewish firms he claimed were dealing with Arab nations nor “a top Jewish businessman” who Simon said received “a big contract” recently from an Arab nation. The Treasury Secretary also told Riesel that Jewish members of a joint economic group of American and Israeli businessmen which he heads “have no trouble getting visas, for example, to Saudi Arabia.

Asked by Riesel whether Ford would veto the legislation with the anti-Arab boycott proviso in it, Simon replied that “it would be premature to judge because the language has not been drawn up. They’re still working on it in Washington. It is a 1700-page document. It has some good things in and some bad things. We have to weigh the good and bad. But I believe on balance the bill is more probably good than bad.”

It will be Ford’s “call to make” on whether to veto the measure with anti-Arab boycott provisos, Simon said, adding, that if there is more good than bad in the reform tax measure, he “would recommend that the President sign it.”

He reiterated that with the anti-Arab boycott sections in the reform measure, “tensions will be exacerbated. I know that this whole boycott issue and the threat of legislation has cost the United States unnecessarily billions of dollars of business with the Arab countries that would have come to our American businessmen including the Jewish community businessmen.” Simon said that a public confrontation on the boycott issue has flared up because this is “an election year when you have politicians instead of statesmen more interested in getting elected in the next election than they are in the next generation.”

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