Bipartisan Support for Open Markets’ Fight Against Monopoly
Last week, Open Markets got a shout out from a direction we did not expect. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, in a speech on the Senate floor, wished our new Open Markets Institute luck and nodded to the New Brandeis antimonopoly movement we help to lead. More importantly, Senator Hatch made clear he will work with Democrats to address the growing threat that technology monopolists like Google and Amazon pose to the free flow of commerce and information in America. “Antitrust is that rare species of government regulation,” Senator Hatch said, “which opens doors rather than slamming them shut.”
When our team hosted Senator Warren in June 2016, for the first big speech in decades on antitrust policy in America, almost no one in our country was talking about monopoly power. Among the few who were, conventional wisdom said not to criticize the tech monopolists because consumers love them, and because they are so rich and powerful no politician would dare challenge them. Well, the world turns fast. Just in the last few weeks, hundreds of articles have focused on the political and economic threats posed by the platform monopolists, and we see growing concern about the specific ways that Facebook, Amazon, and Google abuse their power. In Washington, the ranks of politicians speaking out grows almost by day, and now includes Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Mark Warner and Mike Lee, as well as upwards of a dozen members of the House, in addition to Senators Warren and Hatch.
When I last sent you a note, my aim was merely to let you know that Open Markets was going to be fine. After a difficult separation from our long-time home at New America, I wanted to make sure you had our new email addresses and to introduce you to our new board and advisory board. Today, two weeks later, I write to share the news that we – with a fast-growing set of allies – are winning the argument. We’re seeing a growing and increasingly bipartisan effort in Congress to fix America’s monopoly problem. And as BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith wrote, that effort is resulting in a new scrutiny even of the biggest of the tech monopolists.
The other good news is that Open Markets has been able to get back to work in earnest. Two weeks ago, Leah Douglas sent out the first Food & Power newsletter from an independent Open Markets Institute. Phil Longman responded to the collapse of the Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare with a feature article in The Washington Monthly (forthcoming) that details the outrageous effects of monopoly in America’s health care system. We published a statement on Google’s inadequate response to the European Union’s effort to stop it from misleading consumers and stealing business from other companies. We participated in a variety of high-level discussions with policymakers and academics about how to use America’s robust body of antimonopoly law to put citizens back in control of our political economy (including this important step by Senator Amy Klobuchar and nine of her Senate colleagues). And we helped John Oliver’s production team inject some indignant humor into our monopoly problem in this fantastic segment on This Week Tonight.
And as you all know, we are really just getting started. From our whole team, thank you so much for your support, and please don’t hesitate to be in touch.