James C. Miller III, President Reagan’s nominee for budget director, said today that he will not rule out tax increases as a means of helping to reduce federal deficits, despite his own and Reagan’s strong opposition to such a strategy.
“Nothing is off base, nothing is sacrosanct,” Miller told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee at his confirmation hearing.
Miller also declared that he favors abolishing the monopoly the Postal Service has on first-class mail delivery and that he might continue to press for such action as director of the Office of Management and Budget, even though it would be “pretty far down the list of priorities.”
Miller, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission since 1981, appeared certain to win easy Senate confirmation to succeed David A. Stockman at the OMB.
Clashes Over Views
But he clashed with committee members over some of his outspoken views on deregulation, and over the budget office’s increasing role in overseeing regulations issued by other agencies.
In a sometimes-stormy three-hour appearance before the panel, Miller said he would be as vigorous in seeking budget cuts as was Stockman--even if it meant advocating further reductions in defense spending or in paring back “entitlement” social programs where government benefits are now guaranteed.
Asked by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) if Miller would also consider the possibility of higher taxes as he reviewed budget options to recommend to the President, the nominee responded, “Yes.”
“Does the President know all this?” Levin asked.
“I think so,” Miller responded.
However, Miller also said he intended to “carry out the policies of the Administration” and that these policies currently are in clear opposition to a tax increase--a view he said he shares with Reagan.
Miller said it was “an unreasonable assumption” to believe that the United States could grow its way out of budget deficits running at around $200 billion a year and that another round of spending cuts would be needed.