Federal Trade Commission member Michael Pertschuk, in his first public attack on the regulatory policies of the White House and its appointees, accused the administration of a sharp tilt toward big business, which has brought about "economic hell" for small business.
In speeches to be delivered today and Monday, Pertschuk, who chaired the commission from 1977 until last year as a Carter appointee, charged that the free-market philosophies of administration leaders and FTC Chairman James C. Miller III are contrary to the interests of consumers and many of the nation's businesses.
"Their simplistic faith in the benign workings of the unfettered marketplace has an Alice in Wonderland quality about it," he said.
"When the Reagan administration waxes eloquently about the glories of the unfettered marketplace, what they are talking about is the freedom of the corporate elephants to dance with abandon among the small business chickens."
Those remarks were taken from the text of a speech Pertschuk is to deliver Monday in Las Vegas to The National Association of Retail Dealers of America. Today, Pertschuk is scheduled to attack Miller's views on advertising and merger policies in Salt Lake City before the Utah Advertising Federation.
Pertschuk said Miller in public statements has expressed "unflappable nonchalance" about corporate mergers and raised questions about the FTC's 10-year-old advertising substantiation rules.
Suggesting that the public continues to favor consumer and environmental regulation, Pertschuk said Miller is "as guilty of misreading the political environment as I was four years ago." At that time, Pertschuk, flush with the power of the FTC chairmanship, began an FTC challenge to advertising directed at children, a move that prompted a political firestorm from the cereal and candy industries and doomed the entire effort.
Like Miller, Pertschuk said he came to the FTC with a deep sense of purpose, and similarly "these qualities, however admirable, may also prove fatal to the Republican regime." Miller, he said, "may very well be entering--from the right--the same political tornado that we were sucked into from the left."