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  • Ashley Baker

The Federal Trade Commission Needs To Be Reined In

The following op-ed by Committee for Justice director of public policy Ashley Baker was published in Townhall:

Antitrust law has garnered a lot of attention in Washington, particularly as those on the left try to target big tech companies like Google and Facebook. But regardless of whether an antitrust bill passes, Democratic commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are quietly progressing an agenda that punitively punishes businesses. Due to the anti-democratic setup of the agency, these commissioners are able to wield outsized control over our economy.

The FTC was established as an independent agency of the government to enforce civil U.S. antitrust law and promote consumer protection. While its commissioners are supposed to be “independent,” they are nominated by the sitting president and approved by the Senate, which makes the board inherently political. Not only this, but Congress mandates that the five-person committee has no more than three members of the same political party, meaning the party in control can override any opposition.

This is especially concerning because there is no standard practice for how the FTC decides to investigate a company for antitrust violations, and commissioners are often encouraged to launch an inquiry based on congressional or media pressure. This system is ripe for political pressure to punish businesses unnecessarily or unfairly.

This is why it was unsurprising to see the FTC’s new chair, nominated by President Joe Biden, push through a laundry list of Democratic priorities while also trying to expand the commission's rule-making authority and even considering getting rid of the FTC’s administrative law judge, who presides over rulemaking. Instead, giving the chair or “a person of her choosing” the authority to act as the presiding office....


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