A new report by Laffer Associates released today, Read ‘Em and Weep: How the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S. 2992) and Other Proposed Antitrust Legislation Stack the Deck Against the American Consumer, is an excellent source for the specifics of proposed antitrust expansion legislation and the principled arguments against those proposals. Most importantly, the paper is a timely reminder for those usually inclined to choose markets over government regulation that “big tech” is no exception to economic and political realities.
Good antitrust law should not aim to protect competitors over consumers, nor should it target companies based on their perceived politics. Whatever benefit Republican supporters of these bills think they will reap in the midterms, those temporary political gains will be dwarfed by the backlash of constituents facing higher prices, fewer choices, and degraded services online.
As the paper states:
It is an unavoidable truth that recent proposals are ripe with crony capitalism, offering refuge to select market participants or industries with generous carveouts from the competitive process, while taking aim at the digital economy with finely tuned precision at times—say by specifically banning “self-preferencing” for “covered platforms” in Sen. Klobuchar’s S. 2992 and at other times aim is taken with intentionally vague language, requiring little or no evidence to intervene, such as with Sen. Warren’s S. 3847.
For the troubling details and the economic evidence recommending against these and other antitrust enlargement proposals, the Laffer paper is an essential read.