US Law

Democrats Are the Hipsters of Antitrust

By Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg

Hey it’s Josh.The main work of the Democratic Party’s virtual convention is to officially choose its presidential nominee, but another part of the quadrennial festivities is to approve a party platform. A draft version of the document is already public, and it’s an interesting testament to how much the party’s thinking on tech has changed since the last time the Democrats went through this exercise in the waning days of the Obama administration.  

In short, the Democrats have become the party of hipster antitrust. For decades, antitrust enforcers have centered the consumer welfare standard, which defined price increases as the only valid focus of antitrust action. Over the last several years a new school of thought has taken hold, mostly in liberal circles, which takes a much dimmer view of market consolidation, and wants to update antitrust laws and enforce them in much more aggressive ways. 

The Democrats, in their 2020 platform, say an administration led by Joe Biden would instruct regulators to also “consider potential effects of future mergers on the labor market, on low-income and marginalized communities, and on racial equity.” They say a new administration would review questionable deals the Trump administration has approved, and call on the federal government to consider breaking up companies that use their market power in anticompetitive ways.

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