Politifact Cites AAI Experts In "The Obameter"
AAI President Bert Foer and AAI Advisory Board Member Dan Crane are quoted in PolitiFact's The Obameter "Antitrust Enforecement Has Picked Up" on January 17, 2012.
"I think the pace has picked up in the last year, particularly in the last six months," said Bert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute, also citing the AT&T and H&R Block cases, several pending cases, a settlement with MorganStanley,and a major cartel case in the auto aftermarket. "Both AT&T and H&R Block indicated a more activist positioning on mergers," he said, although he noted that objecting to mergers that reduce the number of horizontal competitors in a highly concentrated market isn't unusual.
But Foer noted that the administration has also gone after several vertical mergers, mergers of companies that are not direct competitors but which are in different distribution levels of the same industry. "They actually brought cases where the prior administration probably would have let them go," he said, although he said some of the settlements in these cases should have been considerably stronger.
One expert who hasn't been impressed with the Obama administration's approach to antitrust is Daniel A. Crane, who teaches antitrust at the University of Michigan Law School. The AT&T case "is not a particularly adventurous complaint," he said, and "not different than what could have occurred in the prior administration."
Crane also noted that, though the administration had "made a lot of noise about monopolization," it has brought only one such case in three years. "True, one is more than zero (the number brought during the Bush years), but it hardly indicates a major reinvigoration of monopolization enforcement," he wrote in an e-mail.
While the American Antitrust Institute's Foer gives the administration more credit, it's still measured when it comes to the Justice Department's performance. "The bottom line is that they've reflected the Obama administration, which has been middle of the road on business issues, generally prone to compromises."
"Obama in his statement as a a campaigner indicated that they would be more aggressive than the Bush administration, and that's true. They certainly have been," said Foer. "But they were up against a fairly low benchmark. It's still not as aggressive as we'd like to see, but it's not out of pace with the administration."