The FTC’s Overreach And Pivot Away From The Consumer Welfare Standard May Impact All Sectors
Given this week’s Fifteenth Annual Federal Trade Commission Microeconomics Conference, it is important to remember that the FTC’s work covers a range of sectors in the economy. The agency has signaled intent to expand its power and move its focus away from the consumer welfare standard, as Springboard has previously noted.
Here is what you need to know:
The FTC Is Focused On Sectors Beyond Just Tech.
The FTC is focused on regulating a range of economy-wide sectors, beyond just tech. The agenda for the two-day conference reflects topics including private equity, healthcare, and auto loans. The FTC’s broad focus is in line with Rep. Ken Buck’s remarks in May—Buck stated that there are “absolutely” other industries that are “ripe” for regulation.
The Consumer Welfare Standard Represents Objective Enforcement That Allows Businesses To Compete On The Merits And Protects Consumers.
The FTC Continues To Pivot Away From The Consumer Welfare Standard, Which Could Harm Consumers Already Struggling With Record Inflation.
“As a policy matter, the choice to pivot from a consumer welfare standard is ill-advised, particularly during a period of record inflation,” cautions FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson. “Now more than ever, the agency should be laser-focused on protecting consumers — but the insertion of additional goals into our Strategic Plan means that, by definition, consumer welfare will not be maximized.”
The FTC Intends To Expand Its Power Outside Its “Statutory Remit.”
The FTC has no authority under the Federal Trade Commission Act “to convert antitrust law from 132 years of statutes and adjudicated court decisions to regulations promulgated by the FTC,” explain former Commissioner Phillips and Commissioner Wilson in written testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We have no such authority under the statute, and if we did it would violate the separation of powers embedded in the U.S. Constitution.”