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An Open Letter to Public Officials: Proposed Antitrust Bills Would Harm Consumers and Undermine Innovation

July 20, 2022

We, the undersigned economic, legal, and public policy experts, write to express concern over legislative and executive branch proposals aimed at dramatically expanding government antitrust and competition regulation authority over the technology sector and ultimately the entire economy. Now is a particularly important time to remind policymakers that the principles embodied in the consumer welfare standard and light touch regulation remain relevant, applicable, and vital to our future prosperity. 

Earlier this year, several antitrust bills were introduced in the U.S. Senate, supposedly to improve competition in the U.S technology sector. In reality these bills would punish American companies for offering integrated services, regardless of the benefits to consumers those services provide, and make a number of common business practices like selling private labels alongside name brands a violation of antitrust laws. Rather than advancing helpful competition standards based on sound economics, these proposals would require U.S. tech firms to obtain government pre-approval to promote and integrate new products. Such proposals are not based on any findings of market power or the ability to exclude rivals. Instead these are punitive measures that target a handful of tech firms that fall under a set of arbitrary criteria. 

Many of us have warned about proposals that distort existing antitrust standards and fail to focus on harm to consumers. The Senate bills would almost certainly lead to such harm. They would disrupt the processes through which tech firms design new products and operate, thereby impairing competition in such markets. They would also erode the ability of American firms to compete with rivals in China and elsewhere in a wide range of emerging technologies, ranging from existing digital products to artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and quantum computing. 

Government-required break-ups, restructuring, or restrictions on business models do not usually serve the interests of the consumers whom public officials seek to protect. If companies are utilizing business practices in demonstrably anticompetitive ways to harm consumers, existing antitrust law adequately equips the government with the tools to take reasonable action. These proposals seek to shift the focus of antitrust law away from helping consumers and toward bolstering competitors, thereby hindering economic growth and undermining decades of existing antitrust precedent. Moreover, they do not offer a solution to broader concerns about technology and privacy. 

It is extremely rare to see proposals that would dramatically increase antitrust authority for only a small number of targeted companies. This could represent a very troubling turning point in competition policy that substantially shifts the focus away from the consumer welfare standard and endangers future innovation and competition. Accordingly, we urge public officials to avoid unnecessary, overzealous changes to antitrust laws that would weaken an already fragile economy and instead look for targeted reforms to improve the lives of consumers and promote pro-growth policies.

Pete Sepp
National Taxpayers Union

Asheesh Agarwal
Former Assistant Director,
Federal Trade Commission 

Charles W. Baird
California State University, East Bay 

Ashley Baker
Committee for Justice

Don Bellante
University of South Florida

James T. Bennett
George Mason University

Bruce L. Benson
Florida State University 

Michael T. Bond
University of Arizona

Samuel Bostaph
University of Dallas

Donald J. Boudreaux
George Mason University

Scott Bradford
Brigham Young University

Jason Brennan
Georgetown University

Wayne T. Brough
R Street Institute 

Peter T. Calcagno
College of Charleston

James H. Cardon
Brigham Young University

Yong Chao
University of Louisville

Joe Cobb

Joab Corey
University of California, Riverside 

Wayne Crews
Competitive Enterprise Institute 

Joseph S. DeSalvo
University of South Florida, Tampa 

Anthony Dukes
University of Southern California

Gerald P. Dwyer
Clemson University 

James Edwards
Conservatives for Property Rights 

Richard A. Epstein
NYU School of Law; the Hoover Institution; the University of Chicago Law School

John A. Flanders
Central Methodist University 

Vivek Ghosal
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 

Tom Giovanetti
Institute for Policy Innovation

Casey Given
Young Voices

Stephan F. Gohmann
University of Louisville

Kenneth V. Greene
Binghamton University

Stephen K. Happel
Arizona State University 

Jeff Haymond
Cedarville University

Tom Hebert
Open Competition Center 

Patrick Hedger
Taxpayers Protection Alliance 

David R. Henderson
Hoover Institution

Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin
American Action Forum

Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
San Jose State University 

Mark A. Jamison
University of Florida and the American Enterprise Institute

Raymond J. Keating
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Daniel B. Klein
George Mason University 

Richard N. Langlois
University of Connecticut 

Kent Lassman
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Thomas Lehman
Indiana Wesleyan University 

Curt Levey
Committee For Justice

Stan J. Liebowitz
University of Texas, Dallas

Tony Lima
Professor Emeritus of Economics, California State University, East Bay 

Christopher Lingle
Universidad Francisco Marroquin

Carrie Lukas
Independent Women's Forum

Abir Mandal
University of Mount Olive 

Michael L. Marlow
California Polytechnic State University 

Scott E. Masten
University of Michigan

Beverly McKittrick

W. Douglas McMillin
Louisiana State University (Emeritus) 

Jessica Melugin
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Jim Miller
Former Chairman, Federal Trade Commission

Dan Mitchell
Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Michael C. Munger
Duke University

Iain Murray
Competitive Enterprise Institute 

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform 

Patrice Onwuka
Independent Women's Forum

Yael Ossowski
Consumer Choice Center

Sam Peltzman
University of Chicago, Booth School (Emeritus)

Eric Peterson
Pelican Center for Technology and Innovation 

Steve Pociask
American Consumer Institute 

Aurelien Portuese
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Arturo C. Porzecanski
American University 

Barry W. Poulson
University of Colorado Boulder 

Andrew F. Quinlan
Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Nancy Roberts
Arizona State University

Paul Rubin
Emory University (Emeritus) 

John Ruggiero
University of Dayton 

Joseph T. Salerno
Mises Institute 

Timothy Sandefur
Goldwater Institute

Charles Sauer
Market Institute

Dan Savickas
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Tom Schatz
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste 

William Franklin Shughart II
Utah State University 

Vernon L. Smith
Chapman University

Daniel J. Smith
Middle Tennessee State University 

Daniel Sutter
Troy University 

John Tamny

Edward Tower
Duke University 

Liad Wagman
Illinois Institute of Technology

Jeffrey Westling
American Action Forum

Josh Withrow
R Street Institute

Bill Z. Yang
Georgia Southern University 

Ryan Young
Competitive Enterprise Institute 

Benjamin Zycher
American Enterprise Institute



Institutional affiliations are provided for identification purposes only.