The Federal Trade Commission is at the forefront of President Joe Biden’s mission to increase government control over the economy.
Formerly a bipartisan commission, FTC Chair Lina Khan has driven Republicans out of the agency and is pursuing her mission to put every industry in a “Mother-May-I” relationship with the federal government. Congress needs to step in and get the FTC back on track before it is too late.
Historically, the FTC is a five-member commission, with three commissioners from the president’s party and two commissioners from the minority party. The FTC has the power to regulate all aspects of the economy, from large corporations to mom-and-pop corner stores.
Enter Khan – a 34-year old left-wing academic with precious little private sector experience apart from a stint at a far-left nonprofit. Biden tricked Congress into confirming Khan as FTC commissioner early in his presidency, only for Biden to elevate Khan to chair the agency behind closed doors. Since Biden’s bait-and-switch, all hell has broken loose. (RELATED: SUZANNE DOWNING: Twitter Warrior FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn Isn’t The Right Cop To Police America’s Airwaves)
Khan is an architect of a far-left movement that blames American businesses for problems that the government directly causes or exacerbates. Paying nearly 5 bucks a gallon for gas? Must be corporate greed. Can’t afford to put food on the table? Blame your money-grubbing grocer, not inflation caused by reckless Democrat spending.
Khan wants to “solve” these problems by threatening companies with antitrust action if they do not bend to her will. Khan has blasted the free market as a “product of metaphysical forces,” and said the government does not do enough to shape “economic outcomes.” Khan’s deputy Rebecca Slaughter has gone further, calling for a “diversity, equity, and anti-racist” antitrust agenda. These are clear signals to the business community – go woke, or we’ll make you go broke.
Since her confirmation, Khan has wasted no time in making this left-wing fever dream a reality. Khan ripped up the agency’s merger guidelines, increasing economic uncertainty during a touch-and-go recovery. Khan has launched several misguided antitrust lawsuits against Meta and Microsoft. Far from focusing only on tech, Khan is investigating pharmacy benefit managers, and proposing sweeping rules on data privacy and banning non-compete agreements that would impact every American industry.
Khan’s “win at all costs” mission has come at the cost of her agency’s morale, even among staff that agree with her expansive view of antitrust law. The FTC has plummeted from one of the best places to work in the federal government to one of the worst. The number of FTC staff who say they have a “high level of respect” for senior leadership has fallen from 83 percent to around 40 percent. Staff say behind closed doors that Khan has a willingness to “ignore the law and the facts sometimes if it’s going to further the ideological mission.”
Khan’s damage to the FTC was laid bare after Republican commissioner Christine Wilson announced her resignation in the Wall Street Journal in February. In her piece, which is worth reading in full, Wilson outlines the many ways Khan has abused her power in service of her left-wing agenda. Wilson’s resignation leaves the FTC without any Republican commissioners following Noah Phillips’s resignation last fall.
Congress can take three steps today to stop the madness. One, hold rigorous oversight hearings to ensure the FTC is staying within its statutory authority, as more than 20 free-market groups and activists recommend in a recent letter organized by Americans for Tax Reform.
Two, pass the “One Agency Act,” which transfers all antitrust personnel and authority from the FTC to the Department of Justice.
Three, pass a simple bill to mandate a bipartisan quorum on the FTC, freezing Khan’s partisan left-wing agenda dead in its tracks.
Republicans were elected in November to hold the Biden Administration accountable to taxpayers. Reining in the FTC is a crucial step towards keeping that promise.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform.
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