Biden DOJ Endorses Left’s Antitrust Crusade

In a letter to Senate Judiciary members, the Biden Department of Justice endorsed the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S. 2992), a central plank of the left’s antitrust agenda. 

If implemented, S. 2992 would put targeted companies in a “Mother-May-I” relationship with unelected bureaucrats. The letter makes it clear that the left’s antitrust push is a whole-of-government, full-court press. 

The bill would prevent a select few companies from “self-preferencing,” a business practice negatively branded by the left but beneficial to consumers. Self-preferencing happens when a company sells or promotes its own private-label product or service next to a name brand. 

Despite what the left says, self-preferencing is not endemic to technology companies. Brick-and-mortar retailers do this all the time when they sell generic products next to name-brand products. S. 2992 is the digital version of a bureaucrat going into a Costco and demanding that all Kirkland products be removed from the shelves. 

The bill targets companies with a market cap greater than $550 billion with 50 million monthly American users, capturing our top four or five technology companies. The bill also sweeps in privately-held companies with a market cap of over $30 billion, hitting industries far beyond tech. 

Banning self-preferencing would reduce choice and access to generic products for American families during a time of runaway inflation. According to a recent Gallup poll, 59 percent of Americans say they worry about cost-of-living expenses. As household budgets are stretched to their breaking points, working families are reaching for generic products to save a few bucks when they can. Instead of curbing inflation, S. 2992 would exacerbate it. 

In a chaotic display, the Senate Judiciary Committee marked up S. 2992 in January. Even supporters acknowledged that the bill was not ready for a full floor vote. ​​Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) raised doubts that self-preferencing was even a problem that Congress needed to solve, saying that he was “…not yet convinced that this bill as currently drafted will actually provide the net benefit to consumers that we’re seeking.” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said that he anticipates sweeping changes to the bill before a full Senate vote, and if he’s not involved in making those changes, told lawmakers that “[he’ll] be off the bill faster than you can say Big Tech.” 

The DOJ’s endorsement of the left’s antitrust agenda shows that unelected bureaucrats are hungry for new power. No Republican lawmaker should feel compelled to give the Biden Administration an inch.