AAI and National Consumers League Letter Praises President Bush's Increase in Antitrust Budget While Urging Administration Not to Walk Away from Microsoft Case and Tough Antitrust Enforcement

Apr 20 2001
Testimony and Interventions

The PresidentThe White HouseWashington, DC 20502

Dear Mr. President:

As leading consumer and antitrust advocates, we compliment you on your support of the federal antitrust effort as manifested in your budget. Increases of approximately 17% for the Antitrust Division and 6% for the Federal Trade Commission are well justified by the challenges these agencies face in the coming year, and we appreciate your recognition of their staffing needs. We are eager to work with you and the Administration to strengthen antitrust laws protecting the rights of consumers and businesses.

Antitrust is critical to our national economy; it guarantees choice, innovation and fair pricing for consumers. It keeps our economy dynamic and efficient so our nation can more effectively compete in world markets. For businesses it guarantees the opportunity to compete on a level playing field and enables free markets to thrive. However, antitrust laws, so important to consumers, businesses and the strength of the economy, will not maintain effectiveness without your active support and strong commitment to enforcement. We believe, however, that continued prosecution of the Microsoft case, all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, takes on special symbolic significance.

We hope that your nomination of Charles James for Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's antitrust division indicates your recognition of the importance of antitrust laws to protect the rights of consumers and businesses. While serving under James Rill in your father's Administration, Charles James helped restore the strength of antitrust. We hope he would bring this spirit to the Justice Department so it can continue to be a valued protector of consumers and competition.

One of the first challenges confronting Mr. James, if confirmed by the Senate, is one of the most important: how to pursue the government's landmark case against Microsoft. According to the court's Findings of Fact, Microsoft's monopoly and its efforts to build new monopolies have forced consumers to pay noncompetitive prices and left fewer marketplace choices, restricting innovation and competition. If your Administration does not pursue this case until Microsoft is clearly foreclosed from abusing monopoly power, not only will competition, innovation, and lower prices in the technology industry continue to be undermined, but also every other monopolist will be emboldened to ignore the law, placing consumers and businesses at risk in every industry.

We would be honored to work with you to protect the rights of American consumers and businesses and urge you again to send a clear message to your Justice Department about your strong personal commitment to antitrust and to fully prosecute the Microsoft case.

Sincerely,

Albert A. Foer, PresidentAmerican Antitrust Institute

National Consumers LeagueLinda Golodner, President