DOJ and FTC Must Do More To Rein in Corporate Excesses
Washington, DC, December 7, 2011
Tags: Intellectual Property
Today, the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet held an oversight hearing on the antitrust enforcement agencies. The top federal officials charged with enforcing antitrust laws, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis Pozen of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, testified before the subcommittee. House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) made the following statement:
“It is worth noting that under this administration the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice have done more to enforce our antitrust laws than under the previous one. However this gives me little comfort.
“American and transnational conglomerates continue to engage in unlawful and anticompetitive conduct. Companies like Google, Monsanto, and Goldman Sachs often act with impunity when it comes to engaging in unlawful and anti-competitive practices because they know they can exploit gaping loopholes and a government whose antitrust and criminal enforcement resources and commitment are weak.
“Strong antitrust enforcement is critical to our nation. Free and competitive markets are the foundation of a strong economy.
“Weak antitrust enforcement stifles job creation and weakens the economy. The phrase “Too-big-to-fail” sums it all up: Companies like AIG, CitiGroup, and the Wall Street predators are so large that our entire economy depends on their success. Yet three years after a recession that stemmed from Wall Street excesses, not one Wall Street CEO has gone to prison. The result is an economy that has become too concentrated and distorted.
“In each case when our federal antitrust enforcers have stepped up, they have helped restore competition to the market to protect consumers. The Justice Department’s successful challenge to block the H&R Block/TaxACT merger, ongoing suit to block AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile, and the FTC’s 2010 settlement with Intel are wins for consumers. Promising developments may come with the Justice Department’s challenge against Blue Cross Blue Shield’s conduct in Michigan and the FTC’s work on the anti-competitive pay-for-delay agreements among pharmaceutical manufacturers that keep generic drugs off the market.
“As Google attempts to purchase Motorola, as Verizon teams up with the new Comcast-NBC-Universal on shared service ventures, and as the whims of Wall Street Investment firms wreak havoc on the global economy, we need consumer and competition-oriented antitrust enforcement to become a top priority for our government.”