ICYMI: Senate Antitrust Hearing Highlights
Below are highlights from the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights hearing with Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joe Simons.
Videos are hyperlinked with the quote.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Chairman of Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights: “These critics are wrong about their core premise. It’s extremely difficult to measure market concentration across the entire economy, and in any event, fair minded economists have explained that the purported increase in concentration should not be enough alone, in and of itself, to be of overwhelming concern to us. Nevertheless, critics of the current regime call for a fundamental transformation of antitrust law and competition policy. In particular, they want competition policy to incorporate subjective and political goals into the analysis. I have strong concerns that that approach could result in antitrust enforcement that is unmoored from objective economic analysis and could invite the kind of corporate and political influence that modern antitrust policy has long sought to avoid.”
Makan Delrahim, Department of Justice: “What I’m concerned about is that the misapplication of the antitrust laws could take away the incentive for the innovation that I see, that provides the dynamic competition that we need here.”
Joe Simons, Federal Trade Commission: “One thing we need to be careful about, though, is we don’t want to have a situation where more privacy equals less competition.”
Makan Delrahim, Department of Justice: “But to begin regulating into an industry without the rigors of the economics and then not being able to change those rules and have the flexibility we currently have in antitrust law to adapt to new technologies, new markets, and new thought, might actually cause more consumer harm. So having that flexibility to be able to change that would be really important.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Chairman of Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights: “Let me say one additional word about what I consider to be appropriate competition enforcement policy. Antitrust law in this country has been developed primarily in the courts, which allows adversaries to make their best case, in each instance, before an impartial judge. This approach may be lengthy, it may be time consuming, it may be costly, at times. In fact, it almost always is in one way or another. But it has served us well for over 100 years of antitrust jurisprudence.”
Joe Simons, Federal Trade Commission: “In terms of the consumer welfare standard, my view is it’s very flexible and, so, for example, it develops and accounts for new things over time.”
Makan Delrahim, Department of Justice: “I agree with Chairman Simons as far as the consumer welfare standard. It has been one that has served us well, it’s flexible enough. Abandoning it might not have those principles that we, there’s the basic principles to follow that ultimately the actions we take should benefit the consumer and keep the markets free.”