Lame-duck session will be truly lame if antitrust bills resurface

By Starla Brown
December 21, 2022

The AFP state director writes that the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and the Open App Markets Act are the two most sweeping, dangerous antitrust bills introduced in Congress.

Our mission at Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Mississippi is to help everyday citizens realize their full potential and contribute to society in a meaningful and unique way. We push for all Mississippians to gain the tools, skills, and freedoms necessary to achieve their goals on their own terms without the burden of heavy regulations and government interference. The recent efforts by some lawmakers to dismantle America’s most successful tech firms is one example of unwanted government intrusion that threatens AFP’s mission and the prosperity of Mississippi and its people.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) and the Open App Markets Act (OAMA) are the two most sweeping and dangerous antitrust bills introduced in Congress to date. Both the AICOA and the OAMA are a response to unfounded concerns that certain companies, like Meta, Amazon, and Google, have become monopolies that dominate all avenues of the tech market. The AICOA seeks to eliminate “unfair” practices, such as self-preferencing – a company utilizing its own service or product on its own platform – while the OAMA aims to do away with the convenience of pre-installed apps and app stores on smart devices, among other restrictions. 

In a capitalist economy, antitrust law is essential because it ensures competition among businesses and industries, benefiting consumers by providing more choices and keeping costs low. This is known as the consumer welfare standard – the guiding principle of antitrust law in the United States for decades. The consumer welfare standard states that the ultimate goal of antitrust law is “economic efficiency” and that the consumer’s well-being should come before all other agendas. The primary issue with the AICOA and the OAMA is that the consumer welfare standard is being completely discarded and used as a pawn in the political power games of Washington. 

Many of America’s most well-known and successful tech companies have created easy-to-use digital tools and services on which countless consumers depend. Most importantly, these tools and services are affordable. After an unprecedented, global pandemic that halted our economy and left consumers and entrepreneurs reeling with uncertainty, access to low- or no-cost tools or services is critical for small business owners. In fact, AFP’s True Cost of Washington Tour has shed a light on how “Bidenomics” has negatively impacted American families across the country, and if the AICOA and OAMA are allowed to move forward, it will only add insult to injury for America’s struggling consumers and their loved ones.

It would be difficult to overstate the impact technology has had on small businesses and startups. In Mississippi, Google alone has helped over 150,000 small businesses get off the ground and grow their business with their readily available, affordable, and user-friendly digital tools. Tech companies have also partnered with many state and local chambers of commerce in Mississippi to teach free classes on how to use their digital tools. Many of these companies have also invested billions in the Magnolia State, making Mississippi a new hub for innovation and bringing hundreds of jobs and new revenue streams to the state. If the proponents of these tech antitrust bills get their way, this progress will come to a screeching stop.

Fortunately, the AICOA and the OAMA have thus far failed to advance past the floor in either chamber, but antitrust legislation could find itself on the docket again in the lame-duck session. We cannot let up; we must make it known to our Mississippi elected officials and others in Congress that the AICOA and the OAMA must be defeated once and for all. To all who call the Magnolia State home and rely on tech, rest assured that AFP Mississippi has your back in this fight.

Submitted by Starla Brown. She is the State Director of Americans for Prosperity, an allied organization of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.


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