We are at a pivotal moment in the antimonopoly movement. Lina Khan was recently named FTC chair and a Congressional committee is sending to the House floor six antitrust bills that strike at the heart of Big Tech’s predatory power. After decades of a misguided approach to antitrust policy, Washington has a new antimonopoly fervor, writes Senior Researcher Ron Knox in The Washington Post.
“Most folks who follow the ebb and flow of federal regulation expected the Senate to easily confirm Columbia University law professor Lina Khan to join the Federal Trade Commission. And, on June 15, it did, by a 69-to-28 vote.
“Few expected what happened next.
“Just hours after that vote, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) leaked the news during another Senate hearing: President Biden had chosen Khan, a 32-year-old tech critic and anti-monopoly crusader, to lead the FTC as its chair. The startling decision put one of the most prominent critics of corporate power in charge of the agency best able to combat big businesses on behalf of workers, small businesses and consumers. “Congress created the FTC to safeguard fair competition and protect consumers, workers, and honest businesses from unfair & deceptive practices,” Khan tweeted. “I look forward to upholding this mission with vigor and serving the American public.”
“Those who have borne witness to rapid shifts in thinking about monopoly power in America knew it was no lip service. After years confined to quiet discussions among academics and economists on the margins of mainstream debate, the 21st-century anti-monopoly movement is now upon us. And with swelling public support, it has risen to prominence in ways that were unthinkable even five years ago.
“Concerns over corporate power are now firmly embedded in Congress. Democrats Klobuchar and Rep. David N. Cicilline (R.I.) are perched at the forefront of the battle as chairs of congressional antitrust panels, but Republicans, longtime defenders of big business, are also coming around. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have publicly backed breaking up giant tech companies such as Amazon and Google. A 16-month investigation and a blockbuster, 450-page report from the House Judiciary Committee accused Big Tech of monopoly abuses. In response to that investigation and other revelations, those Judiciary Committee members introduced and this week passed five groundbreaking antitrust reform bills that would break up and regulate Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple and drastically limit their ability to grow through mergers. In both parties, the ground beneath the political consensus is shifting. (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)…”
Illustration Credit: Pete Ryan for the Washington Post
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