FTC’s Lina Khan: The Enemy of Big Tech, Expert Says. From politicizing one government agency to another, the FTC and DOJ are cracking down on capitalism. Joining us now is Net Choice Vice President and George Mason University Internet Law Professor, Carl Zabel. Carl, great to see you. I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about this one. I think the FTC is the Sanders-Warren wing of the government that they want to use to gain more control over American business and put their progressive stamp on the American economy. I think it’s that big. Am I wrong?
No, you’re absolutely correct. I mean, it’s being led by an activist by the name of Lena Khan, who has thrown away the core mission of the Federal Trade Commission, which is to protect consumers, and instead, she is shepherding her new fairness doctrine. What is fairness? Fairness is whatever she wants. Let’s be clear, this activist has no interest in consumers. She became famous because she complained that Amazon prices are too low. Well, talk to anybody paying prices at the supermarket, and we’d welcome those low prices. Instead, she has created these new merger guidelines, which is the latest attempt to change her outcome in court. She keeps losing at court, so she’s changing the rules. Under these new merger guidelines, it basically says success is sinful, and any merger is inherently illegal until you prove your innocence.
It’s interesting, Professor. Coming out, though, from all of these things, the FTC has lost a lot of cases lately, and a lot of people have said that Lena Khan may have more bark than bite. Thankfully, the court system has been looking at some of her rulings and saying, ‘No, this can’t go through. No, this is illegal and unconstitutional. You name it.’ Do you get worried that her strategy, actually, or maybe not worried, the opposite, is backfiring given how many cases she does seem to be losing?
I wish it were completely backfiring. Unfortunately, she hasn’t gotten the message. She keeps pushing these cases because she knows her audience is not the courts. Her audience is not the legal system. Instead, her audience is the people in the boardrooms. They know that they hear her threats, and they are starting to kowtow and move away in fear and frustration. You have mergers that have taken more than years to actually consummate, and that’s what’s happening. This will push our 401ks lower as businesses can’t grow. This will push job losses higher and prices higher. If you look at your 401k today, you will cry. And this will make us cry even more as she begins to push her progressive agenda. Carl, some.
Some of the big companies that she goes after are tech companies. Some of these giants have been very supportive through their CEOs and other executive members of the Biden administration. It’s amazing to me how the Biden FTC is going after these companies, and yet they still support the administration. It seems a little bit circular. Maybe they know that the system has checks and balances, and some of these restrictions that she’s trying to impose won’t go through. But anyway to peel back that logic and make some sense of it?
Look, you have to play where the people are, and you have to try to make nice with the administration, even if it will never make nice to you. You’re looking at the Federal Trade Commission that brought action against Meta, against Microsoft. It brought action to block Amazon from acquiring Roomba. It is basically the enemy of the tech industry, and that’s what Lina Khan, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, campaigned on. She vehemently hates these companies. She is in an opinion where they are inherently evil. What the tech industry needs to realize is that in life, you have two choices. One, you can either be Chamberlain or Churchill. Appeasement only makes the aggressor more aggressive. Unfortunately, that’s what we’re seeing here. So what they need to do instead is turn to Congress, turn to the Republican majority, and look to them to use the power of the purse to cut the funding at the Trade Commission and cut back the ability of this rogue agency to attack anything and everything that it doesn’t like and get back to its core mission of actually protecting consumers.
Karl, really quickly, do you see these rules getting through? Is this going to happen, or will they get blocked somehow?
Yeah, unfortunately, they’re trying to put on a real campaign to push this through and make it look completely normal. Don’t worry, everyone, this is all above board. But that’s the real danger. A lot of people are starting to drink the Kool-Aid and should instead recognize that these merger guidelines are nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing that will unleash the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice upon the American economy in ways that we don’t want.
Karl, really appreciate your time and your perspective. Breaking that down for us. Thank you so much.