The FTC vs. the DC Taxi Cab Commission

The FTC recently released a letter supporting competition in the DC Taxicab industry:

[The FTC] staff respectfully suggests that DCTC carefully consider the potential direct and indirect impact of its proposed regulations on competition. We believe that unwarranted restrictions on competition should be avoided, and any restrictions on competition that are implemented should be no broader than necessary to address legitimate subjects of regulation, such as safety and consumer protection, and narrowly crafted to minimize any potential anticompetitive impact.

In response, taxi commission chair Ron Linton suggested that Uber had a hand in writing the FTC letter. Regulators can sometimes be captured but not by firms launched in 2010! FTC commissioner Joshua Wright (formerly a colleague at GMU law) responds in the Washington Post with a telling point:

Linton’s uninformed comment tells us more about the commission’s approach to regulation than about the FTC’s. According to The Post, Linton described the commission’s regulatory role to that of a referee of competing interest groups.

Indeed, what competing groups is Linton talking about? Might it be producers and consumers? And what does it mean to “referee” the competition between producers and consumers if not to raise prices and incumbent profits?


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