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September 27, 2007

obama promises strong antitrust enforcement

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 10:54 pm

The non-profit, nonpartisan American Antitrust Institute posted a two-page Statement of Senator Barack Obama on antitrust law and policy, at its website tonight (September 27, 2007). In his Statement, Obama promised that “As president, I will direct my administration to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement . . . so that all Americans benefit from a growing and healthy competitive freemarket economy.”

AAI had invited “all the presidential campaigns (except Fred Thompson, who wasn’t in the race when we wrote) to submit their candidates’ views on antitrust.” Although only Senator Barack Obama responded within AAI’s time frame, the organization (which does not endorse candidates), says it “will be pleased to publish any additional candidate statements.”

Sen. Obama stated that “Antitrust is the American way to make capitalism work for consumers. Unlike some forms of government regulation, it ensures that firms can reap the rewards of doing a better job. Most fundamentally, it insists that customers—not government bureaucrats, and not monopoly CEOs—are the judges of what best serves their needs.” After noting that America has been a longtime leader in antitrust,” with more than a century of “broad bipartisan support for vigorous antitrust enforcement, to protect competition and to foster innovation and economic growth,” the Senator charged that “Regrettably, the current administration has what may be the weakest record of antitrust enforcement of any administration in the last half century.”

Here are other points made in Sen. Obama’s Statement: 

  • My Administration will . . .
    • step up review of merger activity and take effective action to stop or restructure those mergers that are likely to harm consumer welfare, while quickly clearing those that do not.
    • take aggressive action to curb the growth of international cartels
    • look carefully at key industries to ensure that the benefits of competition are fully realized by consumers.
    • ensure that insurance and drug companies are not abusing their monopoly power through unjustified price increases
    • repeal the longstanding antitrust exemption for medical malpractice insurance.
    • ensure that the law effectively prevents anticompetitive agreements that artificially retard the entry of generic pharmaceuticals onto the market, while preserving the incentives to innovate that drive firms to invent life-saving medications.
  • My administration will strengthen the antitrust authorities’ competition advocacy programs to ensure that special interests do not use regulation to insulate themselves from the competitive process.
  • Finally, my administration will strengthen competition advocacy in the international community as well as domestically. It will take steps to ensure that antitrust law is not used as a tool to interfere with robust competition or undermine efficiency to the detriment of US consumers and businesses.

Sen. Obama’s strong support for vigorous antitrust enforcement and advocacy is not a surprise. The failure of other campaigns to respond to AAI’s invitation is disappointing. Let’s hope more candidates will care enough about competition policy to publicly state their positions.

a nightingale singing
included in the price…
five-penny tea


……………………………. by Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

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