Former Obama Administration National Economic Council Director Larry Summers has recently come out as the latest critic of the Biden Administration’s attempts to radically shift the antitrust enforcement landscape to an environment that is anti-business, anti-consumer, but pro-big government.
Under Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, the Biden Administration has taken steps towards reversing decades of antitrust precedent with an aim towards returning to the flawed pre-consumer welfare standard model of enforcement. Recognizing the dangers of this approach, Summers has staunchly spoken out against the Biden Administration’s antitrust agenda.
On May 22, Summers posted a Twitter thread warning that the Biden Administration’s neo-Brandeisian approach to antitrust policy “will make the US economy more inflationary and less resilient.” This warning comes at a time where the Biden Administration’s anti-business policies have already contributed to 40-year record highs of inflation – an economic state that President Biden himself has already admitted is “going to be a haul” and “take some time.” However, instead of promoting policies to help reduce the time it takes to overcome this inflationary malaise, President Biden is handing Khan and Kanter the shovel to dig a deeper hole.
Summers particularly expressed concern that the Biden Administration approach to antitrust policy contradicts its stated desire to rely on “factual analysis and ‘looking at the science”’ when making policy decisions. The Biden Administration is listening to the whims of progressive activists instead of economic experts when paving its new antitrust pathway. The Biden Administration is refusing to accept the economic realities that incentivized the abandonment of the Brandeisian approach to antitrust policy.
Attacking big business merely for being big will create a host of economic complications. In his Twitter thread, Summers only points out a few of them. For example, Summers explains that if these policies “prevent the exploitation of economies of scale,” they could “easily” have inflationary effects.
Summers is an economist that was entrusted by multiple Democratic presidents to guide America’s economic policy. For him to critique President Biden’s antitrust approach in such a visceral way indicates that the Biden Administration’s agenda threatens to reverse much of the economic progress that our country has made during the last couple of decades. The Biden Administration ought to continue the antitrust approach that helped the United States overcome the inflationary crisis it faced in 1970’s. However, the Administration’s pursual of a Neo-Brandeisian antitrust agenda will only exacerbate inflation, wreaking havoc on household budgets across the country.