Today, Public Knowledge President Gene Kimmelman submitted a statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition, and Consumer Rights. His statement in the December 13 hearing on “The Consumer Welfare Standard in Antitrust: Outdated or a Harbor in a Sea of Doubt?” contends we need more than antitrust law to promote market competition that benefits consumers.
The following may be attributed to Public Knowledge President Gene Kimmelman from his statement:
“Growing public concerns that ever-fewer companies are dominating important sectors of our economy has appropriately reinvigorated attention to whether our nation's competition policies, including antitrust, are doing enough to protect consumers, promote innovation, and ensure fair market practices. Under U.S. law, antitrust is one critical element necessary to protect consumers and the competitive process. Yet antitrust, by itself, is not enough to harness the marketplace benefits the public is rightfully demanding.
“Whether the rising costs of pharmaceuticals, complex financial products, the confusing maze of airline charges, or ever-increasing (and often misleading) cable and broadband fees, consumers want and expect antitrust, consumer protection and competition policy in general to deliver lower prices, better services and more choice in the marketplace.
“We applaud Members of Congress for beginning a conversation through a heightened focus on the behavior of major tech platforms, and broad policy programs like ‘A Better Deal’ to determine what refinements may be necessary to law and enforcement to deliver better results for consumers. Additionally, we welcome proposed legislation, such as the Merger Enforcement Improvement Act and the Consolidation Prevention and Competition Promotion Act put forth by Senator Klobuchar and co-sponsored by many of her Senate colleagues.
“There has been much debate concerning how well antitrust works—in particular, whether antitrust’s ‘consumer welfare’ standard, by itself, is enough to protect competition and consumers. It is not — but to be clear, antitrust law, even in a strengthened form, should not be, and never has been, the sum and substance of competition policy. As this statement will illustrate, policymakers have many other tools at their disposal to ensure a fair economy. These, as well as antitrust, need to be strengthened.
“Competition policy is broader than antitrust, and members of Congress should not overlook other tools at their disposal to ensure that markets are functioning effectively… Antitrust should be applied alongside regulatory, structural, and other approaches to ensure that markets serve the public interest.”
You may view the statement here.
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