The Hill: To confront corporate power, President Biden needs Jonathan Kanter (opinion)

April 21, 2021 Media

Since the 1980s, corporations have steadily consolidated more power, while the federal agencies responsible for enforcing our antitrust laws have largely abdicated their responsibility. Such concentrated corporate power isn’t just a threat to our economy, it’s a threat to democracy itself.

By nominating Lina Khan to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and appointing Tim Wu to the National Economic Council (NEC), President Joe Biden has signaled that he’s ready to hold corporations accountable. To complete his team, he needs to appoint a champion of today’s antimonopoly movement to lead the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ): Jonathan Kanter.

Antitrust enforcement is one of the best tools the federal government has to rein in corporate power and build a just, inclusive economy. The assistant attorney general for antitrust will help set the administration’s approach to combating the modern-day monopolies that write the rules of our economy. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, I know that our antitrust laws are only as effective as our antitrust enforcers.

As a candidate, Barack Obama pledged to “reinvigorate antitrust enforcement.” Nevertheless, the Obama administration failed to prevent Big Tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google from consolidating their monopoly status. As the American Economic Liberties Project has documented, the Obama administration had a historic opportunity to challenge corporate power. But too many of the Obama administration’s leaders were unwilling to break from the “hands-off” approach that began with the Reagan administration. As a result, between 2009 and 2019, antitrust enforcers did not block a single one of the more than 400 acquisitions by the five biggest online platforms.