In a letter sent to the White House on February 3, 2021, 15 independent business associations representing over 60,000 business owners from across the country called on President Biden to appoint Federal Trade Commission (FTC) commissioners and leaders at the Department of Justice (DOJ) who are committed to using the full range of these agencies’ expansive powers, and avoid appointing executives, lobbyists, or lawyers for four Big Tech companies – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google – to key positions overseeing and enforcing antitrust policy.
In the letter, the independent business owners from industries including pharmacies, office supplies, booksellers, and others urged President Biden to appoint personnel who are experienced litigators or public servants who, in their careers, have “recognized the dangers of, rather than helped to exacerbate, these corporations’ market power,” and are willing to address the concentrated market structures and abuses that are threatening the survival of small businesses.
The letter notes that small businesses are the lifeblood of a dynamic and equitable economy, as well as an essential piece of the nation’s economic recovery. Long before COVID, however, America’s small businesses have been ravaged by “highly concentrated markets and rampant market power abuse by dominant corporations.” A 2019 survey of independent businesses found that Amazon’s outsized market power was the biggest threat facing Main Street businesses and there is overwhelming support among small businesses for stronger antitrust enforcement.
“Monopoly power is the leading threat to independent businesses,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which helped organize the letter. “For too long, federal antitrust enforcement agencies failed to stop dominant firms, like Amazon, from engaging in abusive conduct and squeezing independent businesses out of existence. It’s crucial that the Biden Administration appoint personnel to these agencies who understand the problem and are committed to doing something about it.”
Personnel appointments are essential to achieving meaningful antitrust reforms, the letter states, arguing that it is “imperative that you avoid appointing individuals who have served as lawyers, lobbyists, or consultants for Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google to key antitrust enforcement positions.”
Recently, rumors have surfaced that President Biden was considering two attorneys who had defended monopoly power and corporate mergers, including a former lawyer for Amazon and Google, to oversee antitrust enforcement at the DOJ. Dozens of advocacy organizations sent a letter to the administration in response opposing their nomination.
Full text of the letter is available here.