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Struggle with greatness. Congress is taking action against monopolies

WASHINGTON (AP) – The struggle against greatness continues. Be it beer, banks or publishing books, lawmakers are targeting large industries that they say are so concentrated that they harm competition, consumers and the economy.

The economic downturn has exposed the struggle of small businesses, which are unable to compete with corporate giants who have been able to capitalize on the new order. Experts and legislators are throwing shocking statistics.

The four largest airlines control about 65% of US shipping, the five largest health insurers control the estimated 45% of the market, the pharmaceutical companies dominate the three largest companies, and the top four banks control about 44% of the market. The five major book publishers control about 80 percent of the U.S. book market, with Google alone accounting for about 90 percent of Internet searches.

Beer and burger? It is estimated that four companies control 80% of US meat packaging. The top four brewers: control about 76% of the US beer market.

Congress, federal regulators, states have been cracking down on Big Tech companies for nearly two years, and some have even filed antitrust lawsuits. Now that Democrats have a majority in Congress, and President Biden seems ready to work on the antitrust agenda, the rest of corporate America is in the spotlight.

Critics say corporate focus is accelerating, limiting consumer choice, raising prices and disrupting services.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Has put forward comprehensive legislation to review antitrust legislation. This will make it harder for dominant companies to win regulators’ approval of mergers or otherwise tighten government powers over competition. Klobuchar, who heads the Senate Judiciary Competition Subcommittee, has launched a wide-ranging investigation into the Monopoly Committee.

“The state of the game is nothing but the future of our economy, the lifeblood he supports,” Klobuchar said at the commission’s first hearing last week. “This is about saving capitalism, building an economy that works for all Americans.”

In the extreme case, experts do not expect the antitrust drive to split large corporations, which is what many critics of Big Tech are demanding. But legislative success can make it harder for companies to make new acquisitions և shift the burden on them to prove that the merger will be good for consumers. The burden on the government at this time will prove that the merger will be bad.

The current slump in size began with the merger boom in corporate America in the 1980s, which saw profits for dominant companies. Over the past 15 years, decisions by both the Democratic and Republican administrations have allowed major mergers to take place.

With a moment of anti-monopoly sentiment, some observers see a possible bipartisan agreement on new legislation that would likely push Klobuchar’s draft to the starting point. Democrats are aware that the Senate is split 50-50 with Republicans, and their one-vote difference depends on the election of Vice President Kamala Harris as a usurer. This dictates a compromise, as the support of at least 10 Republicans is likely to be required to create a new antitrust law.

“We have a monopoly issue in the United States,” said Allen Grunes, who led the merger investigation at the Justice Department as an antitrust lawyer. “It will not be perfect. It will not be easy. “But I think there is a reasonable possibility of a bipartisan agreement.”

“Is it a correction or a big reform?” “Something is going to happen,” said Gruns, now a lawyer for Braunstein Hyatt Farber Shrek in Washington.

Corner Haye, a Cornell University law professor and antitrust expert, is surprised. “God knows someone is going to put something on it. It opens the floodgates. ”

Republicans are concerned about the escaped corporate centralization, stressing their belief in competition to keep the economy afloat. But hold on, some say. Let us not punish greatness for its sake. it is better to look at each case separately. They say that large companies can bring scale efficiency, lower prices, and create jobs.

Industry leaders can be expected to make such arguments when they consider Klobuchar’s legislation during the forthcoming hearings and form a lobbying blitz. So far, Corporate America has not commented publicly on the new antitrust initiative.

Republican lawmakers are condemning the new school of antitrust, which is gaining currency among Democrats, which is emerging from the dominance of corporate market dominance over consumer prices, its broad impact on industries, workers and communities.

Biden called the school a loyal scholar who has been hailed by his detractors as a “hipster antitrust” as chief adviser to the president of the competition. And he is expected to replace someone else with the Federal Trade Commission. These steps give Biden a possible tough stance on antitrust legislation. As a candidate, he said that the collapse of Big Tech companies should be taken into account.

With this approach, Democrats seek to use the antitrust law not to promote competition but to advance social or environmental goals, Republicans say.

“What we need now is not a rapid reversal of antitrust laws,” Utah Sen. Mike Lee told the hearing. “Instead, this moment calls on the heads of… (federal) agencies to have the resources և the will to enforce our laws strictly.”

In addition, Lee said that Congress should work to “remove the government from distorting competition.” He said this happened, for example, when Congress recently expanded Obamacare to a nearly $ 2 trillion coronavirus rescue package to provide federal assistance to airlines.

As a moderate Democrat, Klobuchar could try on Republican President Teddy Roosevelt’s “Trustbuster” cloak. His book, which will be published next month, is entitled “Taking the Power of Monopoly from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age.”

Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Predicts: “Fugitive bestseller”.

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Follow Mars Gordon https://twitter.com/mgordonap

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