WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dan Quayle, under attack for helping to ease government restrictions on industry, accused his critics yesterday of taking an "attack mode" just because they don't get their way.
Mr. Quayle said the Council on Competitiveness, a White House panel he chairs, is "on the people's side" and fighting "for rationality and common sense in a town that's biased in favor of more and more regulation."
The council is under investigation by three congressional committees probing its relaxation of restrictive proposals affecting such matters as factory emissions, wetlands protection and federal drug approval.
Mr. Quayle accused the congressmen of being part of an "iron triangle" -- along with bureaucrats and interest groups -- that opposes efforts to cut the regulatory burden. "If you don't do things their way, they shift immediately into an attack mode," the vice president said.
His comments, in a speech to the Food and Drug Law Institute Conference, came a day after legal experts told a congressional hearing that Mr. Quayle and a top aide should have withdrawn from participation on the council when it dealt with matters related to their financial interests.
Two law professors said Mr. Quayle improperly considered a recycling rule that affects his family-owned newspaper investment. Also, they said Allan B. Hubbard, the council's executive director and Mr. Quayle's deputy chief of staff, should have stopped participating in clean-air discussions because of his investments in a chemical firm and a power company.
Both men have denied they did anything improper. Mr. Quayle said his involvement in a decision on recycling did not bear on his family financial interest in newspapers. Mr. Hubbard, while cleared by the White House counsel's office of any conflict of interest violations, nonetheless announced this week that he would put his holdings in a blind trust.