Obama names activist to head Bureau of Consumer Protection

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Those who are convinced that President Obama is anti-business will probably shout "Aha!" when they see his choice for the new head of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection. David C. Vladeck is a long-time part of the legal team for Public Citizen, a not-for-profit group that was founded to "represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts."

And represent it does. Its successes in the past decade include:

  • Fighting the drug industry's claim of immunity from lawsuits in Michigan
  • Defending New York's new fast-food calorie disclosure rule
  • Eliminating a loophole in the 2007 mandatory fuel standards legislation
  • Fighting the move to repeal estate taxes on the very wealthy
  • Strengthening auto safety standards
  • Exposing gaps in homeland security during the Bush administration and linking them to corporate campaign contributions
  • Overturning a regulation change that would have allowed semi drivers to drive more hours without rest
  • Fighting caps on medical malpractice awards
  • Obtaining release of grand jury records of the Alger Hiss spy trial in 1948

It's present projects include promoting national health care, fighting against the planned radioactive waste storage site at Yucca Mountain, opposing a fair trade agreement with Panama (supposedly a tax haven), and stopping AIG bonuses.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection is broken down into seven areas:

  • Advertising Practices
  • Consumer and Business Education
  • Enforcement
  • Financial Practices
  • Marketing Practices
  • Planning & Information
  • Privacy and Identity Protection

There is obviously opportunity for an aggressive director to poke his nose into any number of issues that have the potential to harm businesses. The Privacy and Identity Protection aspect, for example, could put the Bureau on the front lines of the exploding database-driven internet advertising market. Don't be surprised to see fireworks erupting from this office before the end of the President's first term in office.

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