Today, the White House announced the nomination of Makan Delrahim to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ). The nomination is the first of two appointments that will likely determine the path of antitrust enforcement during the Trump administration. The nominee for the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission has yet to be announced.
AAI President Diana Moss noted of today’s announcement, “The upcoming confirmation hearings on the nominee for DOJ antitrust chief will be an excellent opportunity to frame the importance and value of antitrust enforcement. The hearings should focus not only on substantive areas of enforcement such as mergers, cartels, and monopolization, but also the tools and resources available to the Antitrust Division.”
The AAI has long been a proponent of enforcement that protects and promotes the market system, competition, innovation, and consumers. In September 2016, the organization issued its National Competition Policy statement, which lays out its priorities for enforcement moving forward.
Although speculation has centered on the ideological approach to competition policy that can be expected during the Trump administration, Moss suggests a more pressing issue. “There is ample evidence that we have a problem with declining competition in the U.S., and little to no evidence to suggest otherwise. The confirmation hearings should focus on a coherent, bipartisan approach to the role of antitrust in addressing declining competition in the economy.”
During the latter part of the Obama administration, the DOJ leadership adopted a more vigorous enforcement agenda, moving to challenge mergers that would have impaired the competitive process and harmed innovation. These challenges covered a range of industries, from health insurance to telecommunications and media, high tech, and energy.
AAI’s National Competition Policy statement identifies key areas where thoughtful and creative enforcement is needed most. They include conflicts at the intersection of intellectual property and competition, access to tech platforms, and the growth of buyer power in key supply chains such as food and healthcare. The non-profit will take up many of these issues at its Annual Conference on June 21 in Washington DC.