U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has formally introduced legislation to strengthen antitrust laws and restore competition to American markets. The Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act “will give federal enforcers the resources they need to do their jobs, strengthen prohibitions on anticompetitive conduct and mergers, and make additional reforms to improve enforcement,” her office said Thursday.
Former Democratic presidential contender Klobuchar is the lead Dem on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. The move, which had been anticipated, turns up the heat on big social media and tech companies like Facebook and Google. Late last year, the FTC and 48 attorneys general filed antitrust suits against Facebook, alleging the company quashes competition, including by buying up smaller rivals like Instagram and WhatsApp. Google is the target of three suits by a combination of state attorneys general and the DOJ for its dominance in search.
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“Competition and effective antitrust enforcement are critical to protecting workers and consumers, spurring innovation, and promoting economic equity. While the United States once had some of the most effective antitrust laws in the world, our economy today faces a massive competition problem. We can no longer sweep this issue under the rug and hope our existing laws are adequate,” said Senator Klobuchar. She called the legislation the first step to overhauling and modernizing our laws so we can effectively promote competition and protect American consumers.”
The bill is cosponsored by Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust and Commerce Committee members Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI). It calls for increased enforcement resources, strengthening prohibitions against anticompetitive mergers and putting the burden of proof on companies, updating legal standards for mergers and cracking down on “harmful dominant-firm conduct.”
Since 2008, the bill says, U.S. firms “have engaged in over $10,000,000,000,000 in mergers and acquisitions. The acquisition of nascent or potential rivals by dominant firms can present significant long term threats to competition and innovation; the acquisition, by one of its competitors, of a maverick firm that plays a disruptive role in the market–by using an innovative business model or technology, offering lower prices or new, different products or services products, or by other means that benefit consumers—can present a threat to competition.”
Read the full bill here.
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