Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan and Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter have consistently pestered Congress for more taxpayer dollars. In their most recent testimonies, Khan complained that the FTC “continue[s] to lack sufficient funding” and Kanter bemoaned that the DOJ is facing “some of the best-resourced companies in history, at a time of historic deal volume.”
Kanter’s startling misrepresentation of the global M&A environment, which was and still is trending towards a historically broad decline, provided the first sign of these testimonies’ inherent duplicity. However, the claims that the FTC and DOJ have inadequate funding to properly enforce American antitrust laws seem increasingly dubious after they released a joint press conference announcing that they will be sending resources to help the European Union enforce their newest antitrust law, the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Thus, the FTC and DOJ claim not to have enough resources to enforce American antitrust laws adequately, but they also seemingly have enough resources to assist Europe in enforcing their own laws.
This contradiction reflects a troubling attempt by regulators to grab excessive resources from taxpayers so that these enforcement agencies can continue embarking on their political crusade against large American companies. If these agencies have enough resources to help foreign regulators enforce their countries’ laws, they likely have enough resources to protect Americans from violations of our own countries’ laws. There would be no reason for these regulators to help their neighbors if did not have enough resources to help their own citizens.
Even more astoundingly, these enforcement agencies are helping to enforce a law that unfairly discriminates against American businesses over their global competitors. In a rare display of bipartisanship, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) wrote to President Biden to oppose the EU’s digital trade regulations in the Digital Markets Act because they unfairly target US businesses and workers and favor less pro-consumer rivals. Additionally, a recent CSIS report found that “If U.S. digital services raised their costs on U.S. companies by just 5 percent due to EU regulation, U.S. companies could incur over $97 billion in new costs.” This action would likely have the impact of raising the costs of these services for Americans across-the-board.
Khan and Kanter, however decided to dedicate their agency’s allocation of American taxpayer dollars to send liaisons to Europe to help enforce this law, despite its anti-American design. This action stunningly rebukes a bipartisan congressional request.
Such a repudiation comes just as the Biden Administration is attempting to secure “historic increase of $100 million [in funding] over the 2023 enacted level for the DOJ Antitrust Division,” per a budget released earlier this month. However, now in light of this report, it is essential for Congress to hold the DOJ and FTC accountable for improperly using agency resources to help European regulators impede the economic activity of American businesses beyond the scope allowed for under American laws. Passing this budget without holding them accountable would reflect poorly upon the strength of their resolve in protecting American workers, consumers and businesses.
Thus, this announcement should make Congress wary of approving President Biden’s “historic” budget request. Instead, they should focus their efforts on demanding more transparency regarding the way in which these agencies are seeking to allocate their resources.