Last hope for Apple antitrust

From Emily Birnbaum's "Biden Team to Push ‘Ambitious’ Antitrust Crackdown on Big Tech in Congress" posted Friday on the Bloomberg:

The White House is planning a post-midterms push for antitrust legislation that would rein in the power of the world’s largest tech companies, a last-ditch effort to get a stalled pair of bills through Congress before a predicted Republican takeover in January.

“We are very committed to moving ambitious legislation in this area,” Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said in a phone interview.

The lame-duck period after Tuesday’s US election may be the last shot to pass the landmark legislation, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and Open App Markets Act. The bills, which would prevent the tech companies from using their platforms to thwart competitors, would be the most significant expansion of antitrust law in over a century.

Even before the reinvigorated effort, tech companies have been grappling with economic uncertainty that has prompted them to freeze hiring and even cut entire departments. Shares of Amazon Inc. and Alphabet Inc. have fallen more than 40% this year, while Apple Inc.’s have fallen 23%. Meta Platforms Inc., meanwhile, lost about three-quarters of its value.

Republicans have made it clear that they won’t support the bills if they retake control of either chamber of Congress. That has supporters urging the White House to mount a push in the final weeks before a new Congress is seated early next year.

My take: Throwing Klobuchar a lame-duck life line. May be too late.

26 Comments

  1. Gregg Thurman said:
    I have two wishes: this bill does not pass, ever, and, Democrats maintain control of Congress.

    11
    November 7, 2022
    • Rodney Avilla said:
      Not sure why you would wish the democrats not to act like democrats

      5
      November 7, 2022
  2. David Emery said:
    There’s need for tech reform. This ain’t it!

    It’s telling (and not in a good way) this bill is about “who gets the money” rather than about “who gets the data.” The US needs something like Europe’s GDPR.

    5
    November 7, 2022
    • Steven Philips said:
      I’m not sure about GDPR. Seems like they’re a lot of weird applications of it in Europe. But I haven’t really looked.

      0
      November 7, 2022
    • Fred Stein said:
      David Emory – I wish I could have upvoted twice.

      1
      November 7, 2022
  3. Warren Merrill said:
    Democrats have had two years, TWO YEARS, to push thru their most important bills. Great golly, how unprepared were they?

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    November 7, 2022
    • “Democrats have had two years, TWO YEARS, to push thru their most important bills. Great golly, how unprepared were they?”

      Hate to disagree, but…

      From “What Joe Biden Has (and Hasn’t) Accomplished”, posted Monday by The Atlantic:

      The signing of just three enormous bills—the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, and this summer’s climate-and-health spending bill—made Biden’s first two years among the most productive of any president in the past half century. The initial pandemic bill, also known as the American Rescue Plan, was about the size of Barack Obama’s two biggest legislative achievements—his initial economic stimulus package and the 2010 Affordable Care Act—combined. The legislation sent $1,400 checks to Americans across the country, nearly doubled the child tax credit, shored up state budget accounts, and funded testing, treatment, and vaccines to fight the pandemic. The politically named Inflation Reduction Act is actually the largest climate bill in U.S. history and allows Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs for the first time.

      Beyond those headline bills, Biden more quietly amassed a bevy of smaller legislative wins, often with bipartisan support. A modest gun-safety bill expanded background checks (although not universally), made it easier to prosecute illegal gun trafficking, and provided federal funding for so-called red-flag laws. Congress also passed the CHIPS Act to boost domestic production of semiconductors, a long-stalled postal-reform bill, substantial military aid for Ukraine, and a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act—all with fairly broad support from both parties. Biden’s executive actions on student-loan forgiveness and pardons for marijuana possession answered a pair of progressive demands.

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      November 7, 2022
      • Nicholas Watland said:
        Not sure the majority of the electorate agree that most of these were “accomplishments”. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow….

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        November 7, 2022
        • S Lawton said:
          Nicholas, “The politically named Inflation Reduction Act is actually the largest climate bill in U.S. history and allows Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs for the first time.”
          Large companies are allowed to use their size and spending power to negotiate favorable terms. Why shouldn’t the American government be able to do the same to benefit their citizens?

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          November 7, 2022
          • Nicholas Watland said:
            Let’s just start with the fact that they had to lie in the first place to get it passed….. “Inflation Reduction Act”? Give me a break!!

            0
            November 8, 2022
            • S Lawton said:
              “Let’s just start with the fact that they had to lie in the first place to get it passed….” 50 votes was all that was needed. McConnell couldn’t stop it. Now does the government have the same right as corporations to negotiate prices or do you support corporate welfare?

              1
              November 8, 2022
              • Nicholas Watland said:
                “The politically named Inflation Reduction Act is actually the largest climate bill in U.S. history and allows Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs for the first time.” So let me get this striaight….. These items in the bill are going to reduce inflation? Sure thing!!

                0
                November 8, 2022
            • S Lawton said:
              No replies left on your last post. I’ve asked one question that you dance around. Why is that? Because you can’t. That one price helps millions of individuals and will save millions for the federal government.

              0
              November 8, 2022
      • Warren Merrill said:
        Fair.

        Those are valid points, but it’s relatively rare (thank goodness) that one party has effective control of all the legislative branches and IMO the Democrats should have been more prepared for their opportunity. It took far too long to pass the three bills you mentioned, and ended up as major distractions from the rest of the “important legislative bills” the Democrats promised to address.

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        November 8, 2022
        • Bart Yee said:
          Without a significant majority in the Senate, Democrats could not easily pass legislation through both houses of Congress. Sen. Manchin was a big stumbling or road block, especially when it comes to protecting West Virginia coal mines and jobs while holding hostage many Democrat led legislative efforts. But coal lost out to cheaper oil from fracking, then cleaner burning and abundant cheap Natural Gas that energy companies have switched over power plants to to meet economical and lower pollution and greenhouse gas emmision standards, as well as removing coal and toxic waste by products issues. Add in increased renewable sources and coal continues to decline, even with recent higher oil and gas prices from supply constraints.

          IMO, when back to a more normal economy and balanced oil and energy production, the good Senator may need to create newer, cleaner, healthier, and better jobs making solar panels, semiconductors, iPhone Assembly plants, etc. But that also means a better educated and capable workforce and labor pool, so education and training / retraining is concurrently important. Assuming that’s what his state wants, which is not necessarily a given? My 0.02.

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          November 8, 2022
          • Roger Schutte said:
            Bart, Sen. Manchin earns a lot of money from his family owned coal mines.

            0
            November 8, 2022
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Democrats have had two years, TWO YEARS, to push thru their most important bills. Great golly, how unprepared were they?

      I think Republican push back at this stage of the election cycle has everything to do with a desire to gain numerical control of Congress, and not Biden’s legislative agenda. After the election, should the Republicans succeed in wresting control from the Democrats, I see Republicans re-introduce some Democrat initiatives as their own, and adding some not supported by Democrats.

      1
      November 7, 2022
  4. Fred Stein said:
    The East coast doesn’t understand big tech, whether it’s the NYT, WSJ, or Washington.

    First mistake is thinking big tech is one thing. Second is the confusion between power and abusive of power (data being the empowering force.) There’s plenty more they don’t understand.

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    November 7, 2022
    • Daniel Epstein said:
      It is not just the East Coast which doesn’t understand Big Tech. (Klobuchar is from Minnesota) Of course I believe Big Tech is a a meaningless description of a group of companies which have become large using technical products and prowess. The seemingly dangerous parts of their products are different enough to be handled differently under different laws. Hard to lump them all together unless there is a Big Tech Association group they have joined.

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      November 7, 2022
  5. Gary Morton said:
    I cannot see anything this sweeping with regard to anti-trust getting 60 supporters in the current senate. Given the polls, it looks like any chances for the bill will be dead once the new Congress convenes. The article says these are popular measures with no claim of a source for that claim. Popular with Epic Games, beyond that who really wants this?

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    November 7, 2022
  6. Gregg Thurman said:
    Upvoted you a thousand times over (if only I could).

    Nobody, on either side of the aisle, wants this enough to expend political capital to see their particular vision through.

    0
    November 7, 2022
  7. Jerry Doyle said:
    @Gary Morton & Gregg Thurman: Both you gentlemen are spot-on with your assessment relative to the tepid support these proposed bills had in Congress and lacked in public support, an acute awareness that one legislative assistant to my representative conveyed inconspicuously during conversations and correspondence. When I initiated contacts with my respective legislators I ascertained enough understated responses from them (and their staffers/aids) that conveyed there were too many other pressing issues confronting Congress for me to believe any substantial anti-trust legislation would see the light of day. I remember writing comments along these lines on one of PED’s posts. I also remember explicitly other Apple 3.0 subscribers making similar comments. I denoted then that I was confident it wasn’t going to get done. Congress and Biden already had too much on their plates to say grace over. I also remember staffers saying that they weren’t taking calls on the need for antitrust tech legislation. I always felt it wasn’t going to happen. Still feel that way.

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    November 7, 2022
  8. Timothy Smith said:
    Even a lame duck congress will have trouble justifying an attack on companies that have lost 25-75% of their value over the last year.

    0
    November 8, 2022

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