House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Report Is Anti-Competitive | Citizens Against Government Waste

House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Report Is Anti-Competitive

The WasteWatcher

So much work for so little reward.  On October 6, 2020, the House Judiciary Committee released its “Investigation of Competition in Digital Markets:  Majority Staff Report and Recommendations.”  This 449-page partisan and ill-informed treatise, which was a complete waste of the taxpayers’ money, strikes out at various digital platforms, many of which directly compete against each other.  It completely undermines the history and purpose of antitrust laws, which first and foremost are intended to protect consumers.  These laws should not be abused to achieve a political objective.  While the authors claim they are promoting the “public good,” if the recommendations in the report were enacted into law, it would both harm the many digital platforms Americans use today and eliminate the opportunity for new businesses to enter the marketplace.

The Alliance on Antitrust, of which Citizens Against Government Waste is a member, issued a statement reproaching the report, noting that its “efforts are an assault on the consumer welfare standard, which is the standard by which antitrust violations are – and should continue to be – evaluated.” 

The report pre-determines that the digital platforms are monopolies, simply because of their size, and questions why these companies would decide to purchase other platforms to expand their business, equating this success with the “oil barons and railroad tycoons” of a bygone era.  The majority staff also disparages merger and acquisition reviews by federal agencies in charge of antitrust, noting that since 1998, the four digital platforms named in the report were able to acquire more than 500 other companies (an average of less than six annually).  According to the Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions, and Alliances, there have been 894,669 worldwide acquisitions since 1998, an average of 40,667 annually, which means the four digital platforms accounted for .06 percent of total acquisitions.  

Increasing a company’s ability to provide new and innovative services through mergers and acquisitions is a perfectly normal business activity in any industry.  It does not ipso facto create a monopoly or require existing antitrust laws to be set aside for a more stringent regulatory regime.  If consumers are unhappy with the services of any of the digital platforms, they can use another platform.  Members of Congress who care about economic growth, innovation, free markets, and retaining America’s global leadership in technology should put the report in the circular file (real or virtual) where it belongs.