Continuing on the topic of regulations, the left-leaning-leaning-leaning-oops-it’s-toppled-over magazine, The Nation, envisions a newly emboldened and empowered and progressive Federal Trade Commission now making common cause with the Justice Department against “corporate gigantism.” From “The Little Agency that Could“:
Congress needs to take action to unleash the FTC’s full potential. First, it remains a small agency with broad and complex responsibilities and cumbersome procedural burdens, especially in rule-making. Here, the FTC’s champions in Congress can make certain that Congress supplies more resources and streamlines the FTC’s authority. The agency also has a chronic problem of setting priorities: wherever it turns, there are corporate malefactors, large and small, deserving of prosecution. Last year then-chair Kovacic prepared a broad review of the FTC’s effectiveness on the occasion of its approaching 100th anniversary. In his report he called for a larger staff and mission for the FTC’s independent Policy Planning Office to set priorities for the agency–especially apt to its mission of helping to restore a healthy and competitive economy. But the effort needs more than planners; it needs many more prosecutorial troops on the ground.
The second problem facing the FTC is the hangover from eight years of reactionary Bush judicial appointments hostile to FTC cases. (These cases invoked innovative legal theories that aimed for such goals as denying mergers or breaking up huge conglomerates and cited not only traditional anticompetitive theories but broader theories of harm to the economy and the public welfare.) This impediment, too, could be significantly ameliorated by clear legislative authority.
Just what America needs to stay competitive and create jobs: More prosecutorial troops to pursue innovative legal theories.