President’s Choice of Kanter to Lead DOJ Antitrust Confirms U-Turn in U.S. Approach to Antitrust Enforcement, Says ITIF

July 20, 2021

WASHINGTON—Following President Biden’s decision to appoint Jonathan Kanter to be the next head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, issued the following statement from Aurelien Portuese, director of ITIF’s Schumpeter Project on Competition Policy for the Innovation Economy:

With Jonathan Kanter tapped to be the Justice Department’s next antitrust chief, both heads of the federal government’s antitrust agencies are set to take a U-turn away from America’s longstanding approach to regulating competition, back to a time when regulators aggressively pursued the country’s technology leaders.

Along with the president’s choice of Lina Khan to lead the FTC, this pick represents the ascendancy of antitrust populism over the traditional principles of consumer welfare and innovation.

The president signaled this reversal in his recent speech when he pointed the era of aggressive antitrust policy that prevailed from the 1950s through the 1970s, when regulators broke up leading companies such as RCA, Xerox, and AT&T. That approach was rightly abandoned in the late 1970s due to the damage it caused to American consumers and to key sectors of the economy where the United States once was the undisputed leader. In those days, it was Japanese and European firms that benefited most. Now, if policymakers don’t reconsider the decision to repeat old antitrust mistakes, the new winner will be China.

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President’s Choice of Kanter to Lead DOJ Antitrust Confirms U-Turn in U.S. Approach to Antitrust Enforcement, Says ITIF