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Punishing Success Is Bad Regulatory Policy

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/John Locher

Punishing success is not a path to a better America. Legislation seeking to attack ‘Big Tech’ recently introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in the Senate and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) in the House has little to do with regulatory policy to protect competitive markets and everything to do with punishing success. The bills are playing on populist sentiment in both parties to change the behavior of big successful companies. If a version of this legislation is passed, it will make the Internet more difficult to use and will diminish competition.

Using government power to break up companies merely because they are successful is going to hurt the very people the government wants to protect – consumers. It also defies logic to put a bunch of elderly politicians who know little about how to use modern technology in charge of managing the Internet. Do Americans really want politicians to become the de facto decision makers for tech companies or do we want people who are entrepreneurs who know what they are doing. The economy needs more Elon Musks creating new companies and less Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) micromanaging successful companies. Always remember, the private sector is a far superior allocator of resources than lifetime politicians and federal bureaucrats.

It has always been a dream of progressives to hoodwink Republicans into supporting their efforts to heavily regulate the biggest American corporations, not because they have done anything wrong, but merely because they are big. It looks like they have been successful. According to an interview with Geek Wire published on September 7, 2021, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the Chair of the House Progressive Caucus, has targeted Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple for “potentially monopolistic practices.” Her left wing bill, the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, H.R. 3825, would use the power of government to break up the most successful American companies for the offense of being popular with consumers and investors. That bill has attracted the support of noted populist Republican Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ). 

The Sen. Klobuchar bill, The American Innovation and Choice Online Act, has been joined by many Senate Republicans, including my Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). According to Sam Bowman writing at Truth on the Market on September 1, 2021, “in its current form, the bill is split into two parts that each is dangerous in its own right. The first, Section 2(a), would prohibit almost any kind of ‘discrimination’ by platforms. Because it is so open-ended, lawmakers might end up removing it in favor of the nominally more focused provisions of Section 2(b), which prohibit certain named conduct. But despite being more specific, this section of the bill is incredibly far-reaching and would effectively ban swaths of essential services.” One of the biggest problems with this legislation is these companies are guilty until they prove themselves innocent, because the companies have the burden of proof. This is what socialism looks like.

The Klobuchar bill is similar to Rep. Cicilline’s bill and both target companies based on their market capitalization. In other words, the most successful companies are regulated, while the smaller less efficient, and less successful tech competitors, are allowed to engage in conduct prohibited when applied to ‘Big Tech.’ If you are a failing company, you can operate in a free market, but if you are a successful one, you will have Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Biden Administration bureaucrats looking over your shoulder.

Think about the possibility of you not having access to Amazon Prime services if you want. Or consider having to search the Internet to find a suitable map, because Big Brother has banned Google Maps from being right there when you need it. Think about going to the Apple store to purchase an iPhone and having no pre-installed apps. That sounds crazy, yet that is the effect passage of these bills would have on you and me. Companies would stop with those services because legislation would impose a 15% of revenue fine on the targeted companies for each offense. This is very attractive to progressives because it will raise billions in cash to pay for other “Woke” priorities of the left.

The fact is that the American people like ‘Big Tech,’ according to a recent TechCrunch survey.  Conservatives are rightly mad at these companies for purging conservatives from their platforms. Liberals are using that anger to move forward legislation that would do nothing to protect conservative viewpoints from being obliterated from Twitter, Facebook and Google. The American people are concerned about privacy, not the size of companies providing popular services.

Conservatives should be standing against giving the Biden Administration’s Federal Trade Commission broad new powers to slow an already struggling U.S. economy with regulation. At a time when record numbers of people are dropping out of the workforce and Americans are concerned about a new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic shutting down the economy again, some conservatives are empowering progressive politicians to attack free market capitalism.

Republicans blinded by hatred of ‘Big Tech’ might want to read these bills to see if they actually accomplish the goals of conservatives upset with censorship and liberal bias.

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