FTC and Congress Must Accelerate Efforts to Stop Economic Discrimination

March 30, 2022 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — The American Economic Liberties Project released the following statement in response to a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 43 House lawmakers that urged the Federal Trade Commission to use its authority under the Robinson-Patman Act to fight rampant price discrimination.

“Small business is beginning to be heard in Washington,” said Matt Stoller, Director of Research at the American Economic Liberties Project. “Today, a bipartisan group of members of Congress asked the Federal Trade Commission to enforce laws against setting different prices for big businesses than small businesses, which is known as ‘economic discrimination.’ According to new polling conducted by Small Business Majority, 41% of small businesses have been harmed by this practice, and 64% think that economic discrimination is a problem. The specific law against this practice is called the Robinson-Patman Act, but antitrust enforcers haven’t brought a case under this law for more than two decades, even as courts have weakened it dramatically.”

“But this is changing,” added Stoller. “The FTC already has a study ongoing about the practices of large retailers and producers of food and consumer packaged products, centering on whether those firms are charging different prices to small firms compared to big ones, or giving access to supplies in shortage to big customers versus small ones. We encourage the FTC to accelerate its work in this area, and begin bringing cases under this law. And we encourage Congress to hold hearings on economic discrimination, which is a dangerous practice that, at least according to statute, is already illegal.”

Learn more about Small Business Majority’s poll here.

Learn more about Economic Liberties here.
The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.