The Market Institute President Charles Sauer has a new article in Real Clear Policy spotlighting the serious issues at the Federal Trade Commission, and specifically Jonathan Kanter, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice Antitrust Division.
“Two years ago, President Joe Biden laid out his administration’s antitrust agenda, a plan he claimed would promote competition and the “welfare of workers, farmers, small businesses, startups, and consumers.” This was a quaint talking point, but it was also an admission of dramatically expanding the use of antitrust law. Now, the president’s top two antitrust enforcers, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan and Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, have waged a dangerous offensive against companies they fought against for years in the private sector – all in the name of the President’s antitrust agenda.
Despite the fact that Lina Khan and Jonathan Kanter have worked closely together to coordinate the Biden administration’s “antitrust” agenda, Khan’s extreme ideas, legal failures, and poor leadership have drawn intense media scrutiny and sharp criticism from lawmakers, while Jonathan Kanter’s own extremism has flown under the radar.
On the one hand, it’s easy to understand why. Khan’s string of high-profile legal losses, hypocrisy, and statements criticizing companies for providing affordable goods have made her an easy target. However, Kanter’s radical ideas about antitrust policy are just as dangerous.
And instead of properly examining and investigating real monopolies, like the hospital monopolies created because of bad government policy, Kanter, a longtime K Street lawyer who previously worked to advance the objectives of billion-dollar corporations, has opted to use DOJ resources to settle old scores, test radical interpretations of antitrust law, and address concerns well beyond the scope of “antitrust” regulation.
Take, for example, the Department of Justice’s failed lawsuit to block a merger between Imperial Sugar and U.S. Sugar. Despite the fact that the companies involved in the case demonstrated that the deal met antitrust law’s gold standard, the consumer welfare standard, by boosting the economy and decreasing the United States’ dependence on imported sugar, Kanter falsely claimed that the merger would increase costs for consumers. In fact, during the trial, a Biden administration official testified that the deal would actually save Americans money, and the court dismissed Kanter’s lawsuit.
Another ongoing lawsuit Kanter brought against Google’s advertising business would benefit Google’s rivals and Kanter’s former clients like Microsoft and Yelp. However, despite the fact that the online advertising industry is more competitive than ever, Kanter has doubled-down on the case and ignored calls to recuse himself. This is just one example of many conflicts of interest and ethical concerns surrounding his leadership.”