Americans Deserve a Transparent and Accountable FTC
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) recent actions are alarming and pose a serious threat to our economy.
American companies are already facing historic challenges with inflation, strained supply chains and worker shortages, and the FTC's actions are only accelerating uncertainty and threatening our economy.
Under Chairwoman Lina Khan, the FTC has radically departed from its core mission to protect consumers and competition.
Rather, the FTC is overstepping its regulatory authority, undermining our system of checks and balances, ignoring due process, and bypassing longstanding regulatory norms to expansively regulate industries and manage our economy with a government knows best approach.
Areas of Overreach
- Secret Rules, Secret VotesAllowing a former Commissioner to continue exercising voting powers – particularly with respect to contested matters – is not only bad government, it is unlawful.
- Investigations by fiatThe FTC abandoned its longstanding bipartisan approach to having all five FTC Commissioners cast votes on whether to authorize an antitrust investigation.
- Threats to legitimate businessesThe FTC fired off blanket warning letters to more than 1,800 businesses making it clear that they’d face civil fines for violating the law. This contrasts with the fact that the law only allows such fines to be imposed where companies are knowingly in violation.
- Blacklisting of companiesThe FTC is blacklisting some companies, requiring them to get “pre-approval” before merging.
- Embracing a “government knows best” approachUnder Chairwoman Khan, the FTC has shifted away from its long-standing, bipartisan strategic approach in pursuit of worrisome changes in process that are critical to legitimate enforcement of competition and consumer protection laws.
- Abandoning longstanding Section 5 guidanceBy abandoning its longstanding enforcement approach, known as Section 5 guidance, the FTC is refusing to keep consumers central to measuring harm to competition and eliminating any balancing test that weighs benefits against harms in the market.
In the Future
The FTC is overstepping its authority, yet some policymakers want to give it even more power.
- Fining AuthoritySome in Congress want to give the FTC massive fining authority for first time violations of vague statutes, unfairly leaving companies to guess first and find out later whether their business practices violate the law. This erodes due process and will have a massive chilling effect on our economy.
- Rulemaking AuthorityLegislation designed to outsource Congress’ rulemaking authority would allow the FTC to write the rules under its broad and nebulous authority that it would also enforce. Such outsourcing efforts would combine regulatory, enforcement, and judicial functions into a single, powerful agency with little accountability.
- Antitrust OverreachRather than stronger enforcement of our existing antitrust laws, a series of legislative bills would empower the FTC to pick winners and losers in the market. Such an approach would deeply undermine incentives to invest and compete in the market, resulting in a less innovative economy that damages our international competitiveness.
- Budget BoostCurrently, Congress is planning to more than double the FTC’s budget by giving it an additional $500 million dollars at a time when it is running wild over our economy and acting as a super-regulator.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Stands Up to FTC Going Rogue
Chamber CEO Clark: ‘The FTC is waging a war against American businesses, so the U.S. Chamber is fighting back’
Timeline of an Agency Gone Rogue
In 1914, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was created when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Trade Commission Act into law. Since its founding, the FTC has held a unique and multifaceted role in the U.S. administrative state and the economy.
- Dec 20, 2021Comments on Promoting Public Competition in Labor Markets The Chamber submitted comments to the FTC and DOJ in response to their solicitation for public comments in connection with their recent workshop, “Making Competition Work: Promoting Competition in Labor Markets.”
- Dec 15, 2021U.S. Chamber Letter on the Direction of the Federal Trade Commission This Hill letter was sent to the Members of the United States Congress on the direction and actions of the Federal Trade Commission.
- Dec 15, 2021Coalition Letter on Provisions Relating to the FTC in H.R. 5376, the "Build Back Better Act" This Coalition letter was sent to the Members of the United States Senate on Sections 31501 and 31502 in H.R. 5376, the “Build Back Better Act," which relate to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Dec 07, 2021U.S. Chamber Letter on S. 3311 and Zombie Voting at the FTC This Hill letter was sent to the Members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, supporting S. 3311, a bill relating to the practice of "Zombie Voting" at the Federal Trade Commission.
- Dec 06, 20216 Questions About the Impact of Noncompete Agreements on Businesses and Employees Noncompete agreements are under fire, with the FTC considering limits or bans on them. Our employment policy expert breaks down the current state of play and answers some common questions business and employees have about these widely misunderstood contracts.
- Dec 03, 2021U.S. Chamber Pushes for Transparency from FTC U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley issued the following statement today in response to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) denial of the Chamber's requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
- Dec 03, 2021Chamber Submits FOIA Requests to the FTC
- Dec 01, 2021Chamber Comments on the FTC's Strategic Plan
- Nov 19, 2021Letter to FTC on Penalty Offense Authority
- Nov 19, 2021U.S. Chamber of Commerce Stands Up to FTC Going Rogue Chamber CEO Clark: ‘The FTC is waging a war against American businesses, so the U.S. Chamber is fighting back’