Senator Amy Klobuchar who is likely going to be the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel speaks of introducing a bill that would help the U.S antitrust enforcers’ ability in stopping mergers from taking place.
According to Reuters 2021, “The bill would reduce the standard for stopping mergers, from saying that the government had to prove that a deal would “substantially lessen competition “to showing that it would “create an appreciable risk of materially lessening competition.”
The bill is an output of progressives that have raised the profile of antitrust. Although antitrust is a topic that hardly makes headlines, we find that this year, the federal and state governments have filed big antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook. They further sued to block big mergers such as Visa’s plan in buying the FinTech company Plaid. One provision in the bill is going to provide more funds to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, which eventually divide up the work of enforcement.
The bill is expected to increase authorizations to each agency by $300 million, bringing FTC to $651 million and Justice’s division to $484.5 million. In the words of Klobuchar, referring to the lawsuits against Google and Facebook “What do I think we can immediately do, that matters the most, is increasing the resources. They can’t take a trillion-dollar company on with Band-Aids and duct tape.” However, Klobuchar is not only worried about big tech, but also about the communications, agriculture and drug prices.
As per Reuters 2021, “The bill identifies several types of mergers — like deals valued at more than $5 billion or when a company buys a disruptive rival — where the burden of proof would shift so that the merging companies would have to show that the merger was legal under antitrust law.”