What’s A Fair Price For Competition?

The collapse of the old alliance between the Republican Party and big business is possibly the most important turning point in the history of American capitalism. Trump’s Republican Party, corporate executives believe, is bad for business, bad for the economy, and bad for democracy. Corporate America has denounced the nativism, denialism, bigotry, and authoritarian tendencies that Trump’s Republican Party represents. Notably, the dominant social media platforms adopted content moderation policies to filter hate speech, misinformation, and conspiracies to subvert democracy. Unable to return to conservative principles favorable to big business, the Republican Party declared war against corporate boards and Big Tech.

Related: Competition Enforcement against Unfairly High Prices in China

The growing Republican hostility to big business created a strategic opportunity for the Democratic Party and progressive thinkers to reshape capitalism and modernize outdated economic conventions, including antitrust enforcement policies. Instead of seizing the opportunity, the populist wing of the Democratic Party has partnered with MAGA Republicans to attack big businesses, arguably to restore fair competition in America by reinvigorating antitrust enforcement.
In joint statements with their Republican partners, progressive populists describe the partnership as an anti-monopoly bipartisan agenda to rein in Big Tech. Senior antitrust officials—also progressive populists—go one step further, portraying bipartisan support for a utopian model of a peaceful and fair marketplace in which small businesses, farmers, workers, and entrepreneurs prosper collaboratively. The Republican backers of the bipartisan initiatives, however, do not have the same fairness vision in mind. To them, the condemnation of Trumpism by Corporate America is unfair. Their attack on Corporate America seeks to legitimize Trumpism. This discrepancy between conflicting populist notions of fairness begs the question of whether the bipartisan antitrust initiatives are designed to restore competition in America.

This Article questions the wisdom that guides the antitrust vision of progressive populists. It argues that their vision of fair competition is impractical and warns that the costs of the “bipartisan” antitrust initiatives are likely to prove prohibitively high. They demonize economics and efficiency considerations, while weaponizing Republican campaigns against corporate efforts to combat Trumpism.

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