Senate confirmation hearings on the appointment of James C. Miller 3d, whom President Reagan picked to succeed David Stockman as director of the Office of Management and Budget, will begin on September 24. We think he is a perfect choice for the Administration--and a bad one for the country. Miller is one of the ultraconservative economists who were swept into Washington on Reagan's coattails and proceeded to lay waste the regulatory agencies. In 1981 he served as director of the O.M.B.'s office of information and regulatory affairs and, on the side, as executive director of Vice President Bush's deregulatory task force. In the former capacity, he was in charge of a policy under which the O.M.B. reviews and revises regulations for "cost effectiveness" before they are issued. That procedure has enabled the O.M.B. to delay or weaken dozens of rules, including those dealing with air and water quality, automobile safety and workplace noise reduction. Although the aim is efficiency, the upshot almost invariably is that the agency sides with industry. As Tim Miller reported in The Nation, aspirin manufacturers intervened in 1982 to block a proposal that their product bear a warning saying it could cause children with viral diseases like chicken pox and influenza to contract Reyes syndrome [see "The O.M.B. Writes a Prescription," March 31, 1984].
By then, however, James Miller had carried his antiregulatory philosophy to the Federal Trade Commission, where he sought to neutralize or obstruct consumer-protection measures, in depressing contrast to his predecessor, Michael Pertschuk. He refused to enforce the prohibition against price-fixing agreements between manufacturers and retailers and made it harder for the government to sue deceptive advertisers. He also approved numerous business mergers, including Texaco's takeover of Getty and Chevron's of Gulf. Miller preaches the free-enterprise gospel that "a well-functioning marketplace provides the most effective protection for consumers."
As budget director, he is expected to be a rubber stamp for the Administration, unlike the outspoken Stockman. …