Updated: Jun 23, 2021
Tomorrow is a big day for people interested in the serious antitrust measures Congress has been considering for nearly a year and a half. The 5 super-bipartisan bills that have been drawn up by Democrats and Republicans working together on the Judiciary Committee's anti-trust subcommittee will be voted on tomorrow (unless the New Dems succeed in sabotaging the vote). Generally speaking, corrupt members of Congress oppose the bills and reformers support them.
Jason Call, the progressive candidate running for the northwest Washington seat occupied by corrupt New Dem Rick Larsen, told me that he would be highly surprised if Larsen voted against the New Dems, in-state colleagues Suzan DelBene and Derek Kilmer and his donors in the tech industry. "This actually goes to show how far on the outside of the corporate establishment of the Democratic Party Pramila Jayapal is," he pointed out. "While she can win her district by 80%, she is clear opposition to the state majority of House Representatives. Of the 7, six are members of the New Democrats. I’m actually very interested to see if these 6 vote as a caucus bloc or if any of them break ranks. If they did, they’d be breaking with New Dems Chair DelBene who unsurprisingly comes to the position by way of being a filthy rich Microsoft Executive (by last count, she was the 12th richest member of Congress). Furthermore, Larsen has his own pro-tech history, having happily taken money from Jeff Bezos via Amazon and Bezos’ personal SpacePAC Blue Origin. He’s also received career long contributions from communications and tech giants (and net neutrality opposers) Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Microsoft, and Google. For this support, he voted against a landmark bill in 2006 that would have amended the 1934 Communications Act to include Net Neutrality. Considering Microsoft and Amazon make their corporate homes in Washington State, this is going to be interesting to watch."
Alan Grayson also noted the connection to net neutrality with this new move. "All of those bills," he said, "comport with the commonsense concern that monopolies shouldn’t be able to leverage their power to take over competitive businesses but-- surprise, surprise-- that’s already the law. The real problem is the complete collapse in enforcement of antitrust law, for 30 years, through both GOP and Democratic administrations. And a lot of what these bills claim to do amounts to net neutrality; where was the GOP on that issue?"
As for Pramila, a Judiciary Committee who co-wrote one of the bills with Texas Republican Lance Gooden, said that "These unregulated tech-giants have become too big to care and too powerful to ever put people over profits. After conducting America’s first major congressional antitrust investigation in decades, it was indisputable: Congress needs to regulate these marketplaces so no company has a platform so dominant that it's a monopoly. By reasserting the power of Congress, our landmark bipartisan bills rein in anti-competitive behavior, prevent monopolistic practices, and restore fairness and competition while leveling the playing field and allowing innovation to thrive."
The Jayapal/Gooden piece, H.R. 3825, the Ending Platform Monopolies Act of 2021, eliminates the ability of dominant platforms to leverage their control over and across multiple business lines to self-preference and disadvantage competitors in ways that undermine free and fair competition."
Gooden also cowrote another crucial piece of this package, this one with subcommittee chair David Cicilline (D-RI)-- H.R. 3816, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act of 2021, " to prohibit discriminatory conduct by dominant platforms, including a ban on self-preferencing and picking winners and losers online. The bill also creates an even playing field by prohibiting certain forms of discriminatory conduct that place a heavy thumb on the scale in favor of the dominant firm, such as preventing smaller companies from communicating with their own customers or establishing their own prices for goods and services. As a result, this legislation will breathe new life into innovation for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the digital economy, while ensuring that American consumers have the benefit of choice online."
Big Tech lobbyists are seeding talking points to Kevin McCarthy and his operation, as well as to the New Dems are others on the payroll. On of the big lies McCarthy keeps harping on is that the legislation will harm U.S. competitiveness by weakening America’s most formidable competitors, when in fact, rather than weakening U.S. tech firms, legislation designed to promote competition online staves off complacency and incentivizes all participants in the marketplace to invest in improving their products and services and creating new innovations that extend America’s leadership and competitiveness.
Another lie-- this one being spread by the New Dems-- is that there have been an insufficient number of hearings to develop the legislation and the process for considering the bills has been rushed. Total bullshit--16 months and several bipartisan sports and hearings are far from "rushed."
One of McCarthy's favorite lobbyist-penned complaints is that the legislation will create unforeseen consequences or otherwise affect businesses other than the most powerful tech companies when, in fact, the bills are purposefully narrowly tailored to cover only the largest and most dominant online mega-platforms, basically serial abusers Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple.
There have been dozens of complains from lobbyists, done of which have any credibility, but all aiming to undermine congressional and public confidence in the bills.
This morning I was talking about this with the North Carolina progressive anti-trust candidate, Erica Smith, the only Senate candidate from either party even discussing this. "Big Tech has written the rules of its own industry," she told me. "Those rules have benefited them, their millionaire CEOs, and board members, and harmed American businesses and American workers. Our communities have been hollowed out because Washington has decided to allow monopolies to run amok. It's past time that we level the playing field, regulate this industry, and end this era that has allowed corporations to play games with the livelihoods of working people. This is a clear issue where you either stand on the side of small businesses and American families or on the side of corporate greed. A strong anti-monopoly platform will help us win in pivotal battleground states like North Carolina in 2022 and beyond."