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Biden’s DOJ Should Google Better Things to Do With Its Time

September 21, 2023

Build a better mousetrap, and we’ll come tear it down. That’s the message the Biden administration’s Department of Justice is sending to all American innovators with a lawsuit that could have dire implications for consumers, small businesses, and the very principle of free-market competition itself.

The DOJ has begun its antitrust trial against Google in a federal lawsuit that alleges serious antitrust violations, including the monopolization of key digital advertising technologies. While Justice Department press releases tell a noble tale of government intervention on behalf of consumers, the details suggest that the feds are more concerned about the effect of Google’s actions on its competitors than on everyday Americans. By focusing on the purported harms to Google’s competitors, the DOJ’s case undermines a decades-old principle in antitrust policy known as the consumer welfare standard. This standard, developed in large part by eminent conservative legal scholar Robert Bork, provides guardrails on antitrust enforcement, reserving such serious actions for situations where consumers face real, demonstrable harm, such as increased prices. Using data-driven analyses to determine real harm, the consumer welfare standard fosters an environment where businesses succeed or fail based on the merits of their services and goods. This standard, however, only works so long as the federal government doesn’t put its thumb on the scale in favor of one business over another.

The Biden administration’s effort to punish Google for providing innovative services that benefit both consumers and other businesses does just that, throwing the longstanding consumer welfare standard right out the window and onto Pennsylvania Avenue. By pursuing antitrust actions that discard the consumer welfare standard, the feds are effectively telling American innovators that they shouldn’t bother innovating at all, because the government will just tear down their work anyway.

You can read the rest of the op-ed at Townhall.

Heather Curry is the director of strategic engagement at the Goldwater Institute.



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