A letter signed by 100 House Republicans was sent to President Obama yesterday urging him to support the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, a merger that the Department of Justice wants to block because of its anti-competitive nature and the resulting consequences for consumers. The letter, sponsored by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), is similar to the one released last week by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) signed by 14 House Democrats calling for President Obama to intervene and force the DOJ to settle its suit.
AT&T has lost the fight when it comes to facts, and this letter serves as a perfect example of the type of blind support that money can buy. Experts, congressional leaders, and various public interest groups including Public Knowledge have repeatedly refuted the false claims made in Olson’s letter. The proposed merger will not create jobs, it will create less competition resulting in higher prices for its consumers and it is not an answer to the economic woes that’s plague this country.
Letters of blind support such as this serve as small victories for AT&T in its ever-losing battle. It doesn’t take a political wonk to see through the smoke and mirrors to identify this letter for what it truly is: a desperate attempt at garnering political support for a harmful acquisition that would hinder this country’s route towards recovery.
The Wall Street Journal’s analysis of Shuler’s letter signed by 14 Democrats released last week which found that the total amount donated to the signatories totaled $131, 500.00 during the 2010 election cycle. Similarly, Public Knowledge examined the relationship between AT&T and the 100 Republican signatories campaign contribution amounts from AT&T during the past two election cycles through an examination of public finance records that revealed a price tag of $963,275.00 in less than 4 years (and counting). AT&T has spent nearly a million dollars quietly buying the support of Congressional Republicans for political favors that further their agenda, despite its potential harm for their constituents.
The million-dollar letter says, “We believe strongly in ensuring competitive markets and protecting consumers. Likewise, we would hope that a settlement agreement that ensures competition, capital infrastructure investment, and jobs would be a key goal for this Administration.”
It is doubtful whether or not these Representatives read the text of the documents they support, which could be written on solid gold paper judging by the price, and contains statements that fly directly in the face of research and basic economics. The absorption of this country’s 4th largest cell phone carrier by the 2nd would not foster competition, it would stifle it. There hasn’t been a merger within the telecommunications industry that has resulted in more jobs within the past ten years. This has been demonstrated by the 20,000 severance packages received by T-Mobile workers in anticipation of this mergers success, in true AT&T fashion.
The pittance offered by AT&T earlier this month in the form of 5,000 returned jobs from overseas would still leave too many Americans out of work and can be brought back at anytime. The promise of an increased investment to build out their network is something that AT&T is capable of accomplishing without this merger. But instead of proceeding with these investments, AT&T has requested that the government look the other way and support this take over before they choose to proceed. Intervention from the President would be an unprecedented mistake, for both the American job market and our economy as a whole.
The facts are swiftly set aside once AT&T pulls out its wallet to purchase the type of support that benefits Congressional Republicans and Democrats two fold, by ensuring continued financial campaign support and allowing them another opportunity to fall in line with the rhetoric that President Obama and his Administration does not care about jobs. The American public should recognize these letters for what they are, a million dollar rabbit in a very large hat.