The president passed on a prime opportunity to kneecap one of his favorite enemies.
President Donald Trump made his antipathy toward Jeff Bezos and Amazon known during the campaign and has continued it since, including during his remarkable rant in Phoenix earlier this week. There’s the populism angle, where he’s called the company too big and (incorrectly) said it doesn’t pay sales taxes. Then there’s Bezos’ role as owner of The Washington Post, which has conducted the most aggressive reporting on the administration’s many scandals.
And yet, Amazon received a green light for its acquisition of Whole Foods on Wednesday from the Federal Trade Commission, the most powerful antitrust regulator. What’s going on?
The FTC, established during the Progressive Era in 1914, is nominally an independent federal agency. It’s intended to prevent monopolies and protect consumers. But presidents play an enormous role in shaping its enforcement outlook by naming commissioners. For example, after Ronald Reagan entered the White House, the FTC became much more likely to approve mergers that were arguably anti-competitive,
Trump inherited an agency with only two commissioners, one Republican and one Democrat. It’s intended to have five, with no more than three from any one political party. The shortfall in members is because the GOP Senate blocked nominees of President Barack Obama and the terms of sitting commissioners expired. Trump had a chance to remake the FTC by filling the three empty seats, but as with…
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