To achieve a sea change in policy, the most important task is to legitimize a favored approach and delegitimize a disfavored one—and as Rob Atkinson explains in The Hill, that is exactly what progressives have done over the past decade when it comes to antitrust issues. In a multi-pronged advocacy campaign, they have demonized big business, discredited longstanding bedrock principles of antitrust policy, and advanced a new doctrine that happens to align neatly with a redistributionist economic agenda.
This represents a perilous moment. Getting antitrust right—which means focusing on consumer welfare and innovation—is critical for U.S. economic growth and competitiveness. While the current antitrust system can always be improved, such as by increasing funding for enforcement agencies, attempts to turn antitrust into a populist tool to dismantle large corporations will yield slower growth in living standards, static wages, and weak competitiveness. Before policymakers go down such a transformative path, they should stop and carefully assess the evidence behind the progressives’ case.