Economic Liberties Releases Comprehensive Account of Democratic Competition Policy & Recommendations for Addressing America’s Concentration Crisis 

January 12, 2021 Press Release
Washington, D.C. — The American Economic Liberties Project today released a new, landmark report: The Courage to Learn: A Retrospective on Antitrust and Competition Policy During the Obama Administration and a Framework for a New, Structuralist Approach.” At nearly 200 pages, The Courage to Learn” lays out a comprehensive antitrust and competition policy agenda for the new Congress and Biden Administration, while making a deeply researched case for breaking from the failed consumer welfare approach that undermined antitrust and competition policy when progressive enforcers were last in power.
“The Courage to Learn tells a previously untold but crucial story about how America’s economy works and why it’s not working well for so many of us,”said Sarah Miller, Executive Director of the American Economic Liberties Project.“Though it is now widely accepted that corporate concentration is extreme and contributing to a broad range of economic and social problems, less is understood about why progressive enforcers contributed to this crisis and how we can correct course. With this landmark report, we hope to answer those questions and provide a clear roadmap for Congress and the incoming Biden administration on how and why a new approach to antitrust and competition policy are central to building back better.”
“During the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, corporations got bigger and more powerful because antitrust enforcers adopted an ideological deference to corporate power,”said Economic Liberties’ Research Director Matt Stoller.“This report illustrates the terrible costs of this ideology, and why we need a wholesale shift in antitrust practice. Indeed, the recent cases against Google and Facebook show that such a shift is underway.”
Seeking to understand why wealth and power have concentrated under both Republican and Democratic administrations,“The Courage to Learn” examines the real-world implications of the widespread adoption of the “consumer welfare standard,” which encourages consolidation under the banner of efficiency. More specifically, it shows how consumer welfare adherents subverted President Obama’s public pledges to structure markets to be fairer and more stable, something President Obama has himself acknowledged
Part I focuses on the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. It finds that the enforcement agencies allowed nearly every industry in the U.S. economy to become more consolidated, hurting working people, small businesses, and communities across the country while making the economy more unequal and unfair.
Part II provides sector-by-sector analyses of the agriculture, defense, health care, and technology industries, among others. From layoffs at Disney and local newspapers to increased prices for farmers and hospital patients,“The Courage to Learn” details the specific competition policy and enforcement choices that allowed monopolistic corporations to further consolidate industry power.
Part III culminates with a host of recommendations for the Biden-Harris administration and Congress including many executive actions that can be used to immediately reverse corporate concentration and protect workers, small businesses, communities, and democracy. The Courage to Learn” concludes by demonstrating that antitrust laws are some of the more powerful economic tools available to help workers, consumers, and independent businesses, even without passingnew laws through Congress.
Read “The Courage to Learn: A Retrospective on Antitrust and Competition Policy During the Obama Administration and a Framework for a New, Structuralist Approach”here.
For additional sector-specific information, find a series of “Courage to Learn” one-pager here.
Learn more about Economic Liberties  here.