Apple and Google play antitrust whack-a-mole

“Every time I think I’ve got something done, some other lobbyist pops up.” — Sen. Amy Klobuchar

From Adam Cancryn and Emily Birnbaum’s “In private, vulnerable Senate Dems back off tech bill” posted Thursday by Politico:

A bipartisan legislative effort to rein in the nation’s largest tech companies is facing fresh resistance from a faction of Senate Democrats over complaints the measure could threaten their chances of holding their slim majority, 10 people familiar with the matter told POLITICO.

The internal opposition comes as Democratic leaders are pushing for a vote on the bill by summer, in an effort to pass what has become a central element of the party’s broader antitrust agenda.

Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — would ban major tech firms like Amazon and Google from favoring their products over their competitors. For example, the legislation would bar Amazon from promoting its own private-label products over rival items on its e-commerce platform. The bill marks the most serious attempt at tightening oversight of the tech industry in years and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with support from both parties earlier this year…

“We should be focused on items that will help consumers deal with rising costs,” said one Senate aide who criticized the legislation as a “pet project” with little political payoff. “Nobody can quite figure out why it would be a priority.”…

Over the past year alone, Google, Amazon, Apple and Meta have shelled out tens of millions of dollars in lobbying spending and advertising campaigns arguing that the bills would harm national security and aggravate consumers who rely on products like Google Search and Amazon Prime.

“It’s like the game of whack-a-mole,” Klobuchar told POLITICO earlier this year. “Every time I think I’ve got something done, some other lobbyist pops up.”

My take: Lina Khan helped write the bill and Elizabeth Warren supports it. What could go wrong?

12 Comments

  1. I keep reading about this proposed legislation and feel Klobuchar, Grassley and Khan (possible new law firm?) are playing hardball in total darkness. They keep getting hit by their own errant pitches. The tech firm’s legal teams have night-vision binoculars and precedent. Elections always seem to get in the way of Congress actually solving or creating problems.

    3
    May 27, 2022
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    With all the significant issues confronting the nation and its citizens’ daily lives Congressional representatives periodically have epiphanies reminding them why they were elected to office and sent to Washington to represent their respective constituencies. The benefit derived from a public election is the reminder to Congress what is important to the voters; and, it isn’t the American Innovation and Choice Act. 🙂

    4
    May 27, 2022
  3. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Perhaps these political geniuses are starting to figure out that Apple has substantially more satisfied users who can actually vote. As opposed to a few App Developers i.e; Epic Games, Match.com, etc. who are artificial corporations that can’t cast a single ballot. Throw in Lina Khan, the Western Hemisphere’s alter ego of Margrethe Vestager, and the math starts to shift dramatically to reality from the ethos of yet another Lina law school term paper, to raw numbers that will show up at the polls to cast votes in an election should any of this nonsensical gibberish accidentally get passed into law.

    Amy Klobuchar, Chuck Grassley, Elizabeth Warren, Marsha Blackburn, and Dick Durban to name but a few of the IT challenged Senators that couldn’t find the wherewithal to turn on an iPhone without the “hands-on” assistance of their respective Congressional Aids, all believe their 15 second sound bites about antitrust and stifling innovation to the extent that they look into their mirrors every morning saying to themselves that they should be enshrined as “GOAT’S” at an Apple Store Genius Bar. Dopes!

    9
    May 27, 2022
  4. Greg Lippert said:
    “We should be focused on items that will help consumers deal with rising costs,” said one Senate aide who criticized the legislation as a “pet project” with little political payoff. “Nobody can quite figure out why it would be a priority.”…

    Amen!

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    May 27, 2022
    • David Emery said:
      And the actual -demonstrated financial harm to consumers- just is not there. This is a key point that we need to keep reminding both each other and Congresscritters. Those clambering for changes to Big Tech are exactly those companies who will profit from it. Their claims of -potential consumer benefits- should be considered in the context of “who will actually benefit” from the proposed legislation! This is part of the reason why Klobuchar and the other Congresscritters who are prioritizing this over stuff that -really does need to get done- are having so much problems getting leverage.

      3
      May 27, 2022
      • Fred Stein said:
        W.r.t to Apple, there is no case. Period. That is why these efforts fail… every time.

        The real motives (of legislators, regulators and slimy journalists) are vanity, envy, and the need to find scapegoats.

        W.r.t. Meta, we have seen abuses. Consumers, advertisers, and the stock market figured this out.

        4
        May 27, 2022

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