The Direct Marketing Association issued a warning about new powers about to be given to the Federal Trade Commission under The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 4173).
H.R. 4173 passed in the House. The Senate is now considering tackling the same issues. The bill would increase the authority of the FTC to issue regulations even though it abused that authority in the past, and had to be reined in.
The bill would authorize the FTC to use its own attorneys in litigation rather than using presumably more objective and professional Justice Department attorneys. H.R. 4173 would also make advertising agencies subject to charges of aiding and abetting violations by their clients for which they prepare ads, which will chill the work of ad agencies and create a new need for advertising malpractice insurance, further driving up advertising costs.
The bill would allow the FTC to seek fines to deter violations rather than just to correct past violations, sort of like the Pre-crime Unit in the sci-fi thriller Minority Report. The Obama administration will undoubtedly tout the reduced unemployment numbers for psychic precogs that the FTC will hire.
Much like the Left has used the notion of environmentalism as a means to achieve its political agenda, the catchphrase "consumer protection" is used to expand the reach of government over private enterprise. The FTC has been a bastion for leftists, and has notoriously abused its powers against the free market.
For those keeping track of relative or complete industry takeovers by government, such as the health, financial and portions of the auto industries, the FTC has broad jurisdiction over all industries since it regulates marketing and advertising.
Health, money and transportation are not enough. Advertising and marketing are essential to the free market. Control the means of promoting consumer goods and services, and you've controlled the goods and services themselves.