COMMENT: Sen. Klobuchar’s Antitrust Proposals Are Misguided

PORTLAND, Ore. (March 11, 2021) — Today, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) will chair the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s first antitrust hearing of the 117th Congress, the next step toward advancing her bill, the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act (CALERA). 

Commenting on the hearing, Sam Bowman, director of competition policy for the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE), said:

“The big divide in today’s hearing is between those who believe antitrust law should be focused on consumer welfare and competition, and those who think it should have broader goals, like curbing corporate political power and strengthening workers’ rights. Despite some simplistic characterizations, this split is not straightforwardly between the left and the right or between interventionists and noninterventionists. Many who favor much more aggressive antitrust enforcement fall in the competition and consumer-welfare camp, while an increasing number of Republicans believe that antitrust enforcers ought to go after Big Tech because of the perceived bias of some tech companies against conservative speech.

“Before the rise of modern antitrust, with its focus on competition and consumer welfare, antitrust enforcement was frequently incoherent and contradictory. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, the only consistency was that ‘the government always wins.’ Trying to use antitrust to solve every problem means it will be unable to solve any problem, with the result being less dynamic markets and more ripped-off consumers.”

For more commentary read ICLE’s short explainer on Sen. Klobuchar’s CALERA bill here and on the Consumer Welfare Standard here.

If you would like to speak to Sam Bowman, you can contact him at [email protected] or (971) 312-8502. You can also reach ICLE President Geoffrey Manne at [email protected] or (503) 780-8515, and Senior Fellow Dirk Auer at [email protected] or +32-47-293-8401.

ICLE promotes the use of law & economics methodologies to inform public policy debates. We believe that intellectually rigorous, data-driven analysis will lead to efficient policy solutions that promote consumer welfare and global economic growth.