As the term of George W. Bush winds through its final year, we may see variations of this story in all sectors of his administration. This time, it’s FTC Chair Deborah Platt Majoras (R) who is headed for the private sector, with an exit date described by the FTC as "late March." According to the Associated Press, her destination is the legal department at Procter & Gamble.
"The FTC is well-positioned to continue its strong record of acting on behalf of American consumers," Majoras said. "As technological and other marketplace advancements provide new antitrust questions and threaten consumers’ confidence in our economy, the men and women of the FTC are already working to develop the best course for future enforcement, policy, and consumer outreach."
Majoras touted her efforts at winning voluntary cooperation from various stakeholders, including the media, in promoting the battle against childhood obesity. Her FTC has not thrown up particularly high barriers toward media mergers, although analysts on Wall Street are still wondering where the decision on the pending XM/Sirius merger is.
RBR/TVBR observation: The exit of Majoras will leave the FTC hamstrung with two Republicans and two Democrats. While one of the sitting Republicans will likely be named acting chair, it will put the possibility of the repeated stalemate into play, a situation FCC Chairman Kevin Martin had to work through for months at the beginning of his chairmanship, leaving him to assign the 8th Floor a workload almost exclusively limited to non-controversial issues. Of course, it will literally take an act of Congress to fill the seat, a feat which may be problematical under any circumstances during the truncated legislative season of a typical election year, and which may become nearly impossible if President Bush appoints a replacement beyond the acceptable ideological boundaries of the Senate-ruling Democrats. We do expect to see an XM/Sirius decision before March, however.