Yesterday, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) praised the Department of Justice and the States Attorneys General for the Antitrust cases that they have brought against so-called “Big Tech” companies.
However, Klobuchar does not want to let the Federal Trade Commission, DOJ and State AGs do their jobs and due diligence in the courts. Rather, Klobuchar wants to take this moment to increase political power over favored and disfavored companies by changing antitrust law.
Klobuchar calls for “aggressive and effective” antitrust enforcers, which means that she wants the FTC and DOJ staffed with bureaucrats armed and ready to carry out her interventionist, anticompetitive antitrust vision.
Klobuchar said multiple times that the courts would be too slow to achieve her objectives of breaking up successful American companies that the left dislikes. She wants to use legislation to nullify the basic, longstanding principle of antitrust law that the consumer’s welfare comes first.
Instead of focusing on harm to consumers and protecting the competitive process, Klobuchar would reorient antitrust law to make the size of any company the enemy. Big companies, no matter how much they benefit consumers or compete fairly with rival firms, would be in Klobuchar’s crosshairs.
Klobuchar’s plan is to harness Republican anger at certain Tech companies over limitations on speech and de-platforming of individuals and services to create broad, sweeping legislation that would reshape the entire economy and affect more than the technology sector. She has publicly stated that this will be a stepping stone to regulate other industries as well such as pharmaceuticals, retail, agriculture and manufacturing.
Rather than focusing on benefits to Americans such as solving food deserts, increasing transportation opportunities, enhancing logistics, lowering prices, safe delivery of essential items during COVID, increasing access to services, developing a COVID vaccine in record time, and increasing access to flexible job opportunities; she repeatedly puts the emphasis on protecting competitors regardless of their objective success in the marketplace.
The consumer welfare standard, which maximizes consumer benefits instead of protecting individual competitors in the market, has undergirded antitrust law for over four decades. Antitrust law under the consumer welfare standard is designed to benefit consumers and strengthen the competitive process, not to protect individual companies from being out-competed by other firms.
The consumer welfare standard’s objective rule-of-law approach to antitrust enforcement ensures a level playing field for American companies and a robust competitive process with limited political involvement.
Klobuchar’s radical approach to antitrust would reshape the American economy, discourage American innovation, and harm our competitive advantage on the world stage.