Wednesday, June 11, 2003

FTC News: Oversight Day

The House Commerce Committee is holding an FTC oversight hearing today entitled "positioning the Commission for the twenty-first century." If that's the committee's goal, perhaps we could start by requiring the FTC to abandon its 19th-century German philosophy and try considering some pro-capitalist theories for once. Then there's the option of recognizing the FTC is an unnecessary and destructive entity, and abolishing the thing altogether.

On a more contextual note, four of the five FTC commissioners are testifying today. The fifth, Sheila Foster Anthony (sister of the late Vince Foster) is presumably absent because her term expired last September, although she continues to serve until President Bush nominates her replacement. Since the FTC is required to have at least two members from each party, and Anthony is a Democratic appointment, the White House is supposed to consult with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle on the new commissioner.

Daschle did his job, sort of. Last October, he recommended Bush name Pamela Jones Harbour, a career antitrust lawyer (big shock), to succeed Anthony. More than eight months later, there is still no word from the White House on whether they'll nominate Harbour or pick someone else. Add to that there's a second FTC vacancy looming this fall. Perhaps the administration will actually consider putting someone other than an antitrust lawyer in one or both positions. After all, if the FTC is regulating business, shouldn't at least one businessman be on the Commission? Why should antitrust lawyers enjoy a, ahem, monopoly on FTC positions.

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