Obama holdovers are slowing Trump's Agenda in Key Agencies.
Obama's eight years in office this winter, conservatives hoped his administration's legacy of crony capitalism and big government would end as President Trump began "draining the swamp." But nearly eight months into the new administration, Obama holdovers continue to exert control over key federal agencies, to the detriment of the free enterprise system.
The most egregious examples are the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, both still stuck today with Obama appointees pursuing liberal policy objectives and undermining the new president's agenda through the federal government's administrative state.
For example, three days before Obama left office, his appointed FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez filed a last-minute lawsuit against the technology giant Qualcomm over their licensing practices, accusing the company of maintaining a monopoly over its chips used in smartphones.
The lawsuit was in-line with other Obama-era regulatory actions targeting successful American companies, with the federal government picking winners and losers rather than allowing the free market to work. In this case, the FTC seemed to side with Apple, a key Qualcomm rival with close Obama Administration ties, which piled on with its own lawsuit against Qualcomm just days later.
Apple's cozy relationship with the Obama administration was best exemplified by the "revolving door" spinning between them. The problem ran as high up as cabinet-level appointees, such as former Obama EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who now runs Apple's Global Government Affairs and Public Policy teams. And on the other side of the door, top Apple lobbyist Catherine Ann Novelli was named to a key State Department post. These connections appear to have given Apple a clear advantage with the administration and a leg up with its regulators at the FTC.
Trump took a step toward a new era at the FTC when he appointed Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, who strongly opposed the Qualcomm lawsuit, as acting chairwoman. However, since Edith Ramirez's resignation in February, the commission has been deadlocked at one Republican and one Democrat, essentially handcuffing it to Obama-era policies and decisions until more commissioners are appointed.
An Obama holdover also continues to reign at the CFPB, a relatively new agency that has been called the "brainchild" of Sen.Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. CFPB Director Richard Cordray is supposed to serve as a consumer advocate, but most often appears to advance policies that stifle business with new rules on arbitration and create more frivolous lawsuits for trial lawyers. Cordray's tenure at the CFPB has been marked by a growing bureaucracy, burdensome new regulations, and an increasingly hostile business environment making it more difficult for businesses to expand due to a stream of new rules coming out of the CFPB.
Even worse, Cordray is now rushing to finalize highly-controversial payday lending rules just as he gears up to run as a Democrat for governor of Ohio. He's been testing the waters with frequent travel and speaking gigs back in the state, and last weekend served as the headliner for one of Ohio's premiere Democrat political events: the annual AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic in Cincinnati, where Bill Clinton headlined last year as a surrogate for his wife's presidential campaign.
My organization and others have filed complaints against Cordray in the last few weeks asserting he has violated the Hatch Act as he prepares a run for governor while also serving in a federal government position.
If advancing regulations contrary to the goals of the administration isn't enough for an official such as Cordray to be fired, then plotting a Democrat political campaign on government time certainly is. It's past time for Cordray to come clean and resign or be shown the door.
Despite these glaring examples, the Trump administration should be proud of its aggressive pro-innovation and pro-worker agenda that offers such bright hope for growth and opportunity going forward. One recent indication of the new environment created by the Trump administration is the merger of companies such as Amazon and Whole Foods, which could spark transformational change in an industry ripe for disruption, benefiting both consumers and our economy.
President Trump can continue building on his administration's success in this area by clearing out these and other holdovers from the previous administration and appointing fresh, new leadership to pursue these worthy aims.
Brian Rogers ( @brianrogers99) is the executive director of American Rising.