Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has introduced the Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act, which a press release stated would take back control from big businesses and “return it to the American people” through cracking down on mergers and mega-acquisitions.
The bill looks to strengthen antitrust enforcement “to pursue the breakup of dominant, anticompetitive firms,” according to the release.
The bill would ban all mergers and acquisitions for companies with over $100 billion in values, the release stated. It would let the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) set up a new way for recognizing “dominant digital firms” that are exercising power in particular internet markets, and those would be prohibited from buying out competitors.
Dominant digital firms would also be prohibited under the bill from “privileging their own search results over those of competitors without explicit disclosure,” according to the release.
The bill would also reform the Sherman and Clayton acts to make it clear that any direct proof of anticompetitive action would be sufficient to support an antitrust claim. This would let enforcers effectively go after a breakup strategy of a dominant firm, making sure antitrust claims don’t devolve into “battles between economists,” the release stated.
The bill would also allow the replacement of the “outdated” system for analyzing antitrust cases, where giant conglomerates can avoid scrutiny through short-term considerations. Hawley’s bill would set up a new standard focusing on the protection of competition in the U.S., according to the release.
“While Big Tech, Big Banks, Big Telecom, and Big Pharma gobbled up more companies and more market share, they gobbled up our freedom and competition,” Hawley, a Republican, said in the release. “American consumers and workers have paid the price. Woke corporations want to run this country, and Washington is happy to let them. It’s time to bust them up and restore competition.”
On the other side of the aisle, Democrats have been gearing up for antitrust enforcement, too, with at least 10 bills focused on the issue. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said one goal for the initiative is to make several smaller, specific bills that would be harder for Big Tech to block.
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