ATR Statement on House Democrat’s Radical Antitrust Report

Photo credit: April Brady/Project on Middle East Democracy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week the Democrats of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law released a partisan report discussing their findings and recommendations regarding an investigation into competition in digital markets. While they tout the number of hearing as and witnesses, Democrats already had their conclusions before investigation began. The report amounts to nothing more than a radical attempt to completely reshape long-accepted antitrust law to the detriment of American consumers and companies.

The Democrat report is not bipartisan. These proposals and prescriptions are so extremely devastating to Americans that not a single Republican joined the report.

ATR stands in opposition to both the findings and recommendations of this report which recommends restricting tech companies from operating in multiple markets and altering how antitrust enforcement can be brought against suspected violators.  

ATR President, Grover Norquist said the following: 

These recommendations pursue political prerogatives rather than consider what is truly best for all Americans. It is not good for all Americans if breaking up a firm means prices go up 20%. Nor is it good if those experiencing food insecurity are cut off from innovative food delivery services. Small business is not better off without a digital main street to compete with Big Box retailers physical and digital store fronts. Smart phone users could choose a fully open system, but most think they are better off when their devices and app stores secure their payment data. We were not better off when GPS systems led our car to a dead-end road or the edge of a lake.

The report further argues that Courts judging antitrust enforcement on the “narrow” basis of consumer welfare have significantly weakened antitrust laws over the past decades. One proposed solution is to rewrite existing laws to essentially nullify the consumer welfare standard.  

Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director of Digital Liberty defends the consumer welfare standard by stating: 

Allowing subjectivity for political leanings or personal feelings moves us away from the rule of law and does not make anyone better off. The consumer welfare standard does not consider the industry and these law makers are using general populist anger at tech companies to up-end the rule of law for all industries. Not just the ones we are mad at. Legislation should not be pushed to punish enemies and promote friends. It should be consistent across the board for all competitors. That is what the consumer welfare standard has achieved for decades. 

This report is offering solutions to problems that do not exist. If some of these recommendations like the ones mentioned above were implemented, the damage done to businesses and consumers would harm the American economy. We urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to reject the findings in this report.