When’s the last time you looked at Europe’s business climate and thought, “You know what? The US ought to be more like them.”
For most people that would be a never, but that hope apparently keeps Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) up at night. She’s hard at work hawking antitrust legislation that would push the US toward Europe’s economic dysfunction.
A few primers before we dig into Klobuchar’s bill.
What is Antitrust and Why Does it Matter?
Antitrust is kind of a wonky, boring area of public policy to most, but it’s important to understand the basics. Politicians use antitrust legislation to break up businesses that they believe have become too big, or rather, have too much of a monopoly in their market. People in both major parties will claim this is a capitalist idea meant to promote competition, but that’s debatable.
Real monopolies rarely, if ever, exist without government subsidies or crony regulations. And in a truly free market, competition ensures monopolies are “broken up” organically. Instead, we see the government use regulations, corporate welfare, and other subsidies to pick winners and losers in the market, and antitrust is just another way for politicians to go after the enemies of their corporate friends.
How the US’s Antitrust Standards Compare to Europe’s Terrible System
But, compared to other countries, the US does at least have better standards for antitrust than others. Here, we use something called the consumer welfare standard to determine whether or not antitrust has merit in a given situation. This standard means the government doesn’t only have to show that a company is a monopoly. (Again, rare.) It also must show that the company has used that monopoly power and has used that power in a way that harms consumers. All in all, this is a pretty fair standard. (Though it is a loosely-defined framework.)
In Europe, they do the opposite. Their model is not based on whether or not the consumer is harmed, but rather on whether or not a company acts in an anti-competitive way. That’s why you’ll see things over there like Google getting fined for ranking its own products first in search results. (The horror!)
Replicating This Antitrust Dysfunction Here in the US
Yet, this is the model Klobuchar is bound and determined to replicate here. And she is unfortunately joined by a bipartisan group of senators. This legislation is cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Kennedy (R-LA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Josh Hawley (R-MO).
In a statement on the bill, Klobuchar said, “As dominant digital platforms – some of the biggest companies our world has ever seen – increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace.”
This would not only spell bad news for our economy, it would also hurt the actual consumer.
How the Amy Klobuchar Antitrust Bill Would Hurt Consumers Like You
Think about it. When you shop for a product on Amazon and the website shows you cheaper alternatives made by the company themself first, it is you who benefits, in addition to Amazon. You get a cheaper product you probably wouldn’t have known about otherwise. In Klobuchar’s ideal America, that kind of promotion would largely be illegal—and consumers would miss out on potential savings and deals.
Yes, this is seriously the crud our senators focus on with their tax-funded salaries while our educational outcomes lag, our jails are overcrowded, and inflation skyrockets.
And that’s not all. Aside from ruining Amazon Prime, Klobuchar’s bill would have several other negative impacts. The bill takes power away from consumers and business leaders and gives it to unelected bureaucrats in the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice. In case you’re unaware, those are currently run by far-left people like Lina Khan and Jonathan Kanter.
We have been living through COVID and the absolute incompetence and authoritarianism of people like Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control. So, it is simply unfathomable that anyone would still consider it a good idea to give unaccountable bureaucrats—who we have no ability to recall—any more power.
And on top of all of that, Klobuchar’s bill also forces businesses to share the personal information of their consumers with third parties, including foreign software and app developers. This is a recipe for security nightmares, including identity theft, fraud, and, of course, the government getting a hold of your data without a warrant.
It seems apparent that Klobuchar knows this will be a deeply unpopular bill as she is currently working to speed up the bill markup and hoping to avoid holding a hearing on the legislation where citizens could voice their concerns. That’s shady—and revealing.
Disclaimer: Hannah is a fellow for Netchoice, which is working against Amy Klobuchar’s antitrust legislation.