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Op-Ed: Federal antitrust bill would grant 'sweeping new powers' to federal bureacrats


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The Center Square

It was not that long ago that Republicans based their agenda on rolling back the regulatory state. Former President Trump campaigned on a promise of repealing two regulations for every new one that goes into effect. His administration largely followed through on that promise, often times exceeding it. Congressional Republicans worked to limit the powers of federal agencies to dictate best practices to American businesses and individuals. They also pushed for the repeal of onerous regulations to keep the economy afloat at the onset of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, some elected Republicans have gone from campaigning on the success of these policies to pushing for increased bureaucratic control. This push comes in the form of a bipartisan antitrust bill entitled the “American Innovation and Choice Online Act.” Among the bill’s eleven original sponsors, five are Republicans. For those Americans worried about bureaucratic overreach and the ever-growing regulatory regime, this ought to come as a worrying development.

The bill itself is designed to make it easier to bring antitrust lawsuits against companies that preference their own products, systems, and marketplaces –  what most would consider just good business. For example, this would make it far easier for competitors and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to bring a case against Apple for advantaging its App Store over other digital app marketplaces. It would also steepen fines for violations.


This approach is both wrong-headed and concerning – and would no doubt weaken the vibrancy of digital products in all spaces. However, what is perhaps most concerning about this bill is that it would grant sweeping new powers to the FTC. The bill would give FTC broad discretion to determine which antitrust cases to take up under the bill and would give the FTC the power to bring enforcement action themselves. Because businesses are inherently always looking out for their own interests, the FTC could soon find a wide license to regulate anything and everything on a whim.:snip:

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