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Tell the Senate Judiciary Committee: Get tough on monopolies

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"Pressure the Obama administration to use antitrust laws to their fullest to get tough on too-big corporations."

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    Tell the Senate Judiciary Committee: Get tough on monopolies

    Monopolies have become a big problem in the US. America only has four big airlines. Just two companies sell 70 percent of the countless types of toothpaste. There are only three big health insurance companies, four big cable and internet conglomerates, five big book publishers, and new firms like Google and Amazon using their market power to squeeze out competitors.1 Concentrated markets like these depress wages and raise prices, leaving us all worse off.2

    A few months ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on antitrust, or efforts to rein in monopolies, in more than three years. After, the Obama administration got “noticeably more aggressive” about challenging merger deals, after years of inaction. But despite getting results, the committee – and especially the Democratic ranking member of the antitrust subcommittee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar – have been far too quiet ever since.3

    If we’re ever going to truly tackle inequality, decades of low wages, and Wall Street profits, we need the judiciary committee to lead the way and push this administration and the next to get serious about fighting monopolies.

    Tell the Senate Judiciary Committee: Get tough on monopolies.

    Ever since the Reagan administration, our government has effectively given up on breaking up major monopolies. In fact, it rarely even slows the growth of concentrated market power. Antitrust officials have too often ignored evidence that monopolies and massive companies result in higher prices, lower wages, job losses, and environmental damage. As long as companies claim they will be more efficient, mergers are allowed to go through. And new mini monopolies, like Amazon and Google, are allowed to squeeze competitors and suppliers in the name of innovation.4

    Today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rarely block mergers. Instead, they allow them to go through with conditions – promises that are often broken or changes that don’t work.5 The Obama administration has taken some baby steps recently, but largely because it had allowed the situation to grow so ugly over the past seven years.6 It’s long past time for the federal government to stop playing defense and start using its power under the Sherman Antitrust Act to stop anti-competitive behavior from harming our economy.

    Last year was a record year for mergers and acquisitions, driven by Wall Street banks’ hunger for profits from arranging deals and fat cat CEO’s chasing bigger paychecks.7 The good news is that there has been bipartisan agreement about getting tougher among Senate Judiciary committee members.8 Antitrust doesn’t get the attention it deserves, so public pressure has a greater chance to elevate the issue. Let’s make sure the Senate Judiciary Committee, and especially antitrust subcommittee Democratic Ranking Member Sen. Amy Klobuchar, know Americans want them to get serious about antitrust.

    Tell the Senate Judiciary Committee: Get tough on monopolies.

    The sad truth is that the FTC has been hollowed out by the revolving door and decades of appointments of commissioners who aren’t serious about cracking down on Wall Street, and a similar problem faces the Department of Justice. We need outside pressure to change the sorry state of antitrust enforcement.9

    Too big to fail banks are getting bigger, technology companies are driving small competitors out of business, and massive conglomerates control our food, internet access, and even pharmaceutical drugs. It’s long past time to stop protecting corporate interests, and start sticking up for Americans.

    Tell the Senate Judiciary Committee: Get tough on monopolies.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    1. David Dayen, “Bring Back Antitrust,” The American Prospect, November 9, 2015.
    2. David Dayen, “Where is Amy Klobuchar?” Naked Capitalism, May 9, 2016.
    3. Ibid.
    4. Dayen, “Bring Back Antitrust.”
    5. David Dayen, “Why Are Drug Monopolies Running Amok? Meet Deborah Feinstein,” The Intercept, December 16, 2015.
    6. Dayen, “Where is Amy Klobuchar?
    7. Dayen, “Why Are Drug Monopolies Running Amok? Meet Deborah Feinstein.”
    8. Dayen, “Where is Amy Klobuchar?
    9. Dayen, “Why Are Drug Monopolies Running Amok? Meet Deborah Feinstein.”