EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
Earlier this month, President Biden appointed Lina Khan to chair the Federal Trade Commission, the agency tasked with protecting consumers and promoting competition. A leader in the movement for strong antitrust enforcement and an unflinching critic of Big Tech, Khan was confirmed by the Senate in an unusually bipartisan vote, with 21 Republicans joining 46 Democrats and two independents to support her nomination. What makes this rare show of cross-party unity even rarer is that it was in support of a cause that progressives can be genuinely enthusiastic about. But strengthening antitrust protections could be a path to realizing a major progressive priority: reversing the concentration of wealth that has fueled growing inequality.
As Morgan Harper and Zephyr Teachout outline in The Nation (where I serve as publisher), since the Reagan administration restructured the FTC to stop pursuing antitrust cases, corporations have consolidated their power. Declining wages, increasing prices, the fading of small businesses, the decline of the middle class, mergers that stifle competition and trigger devastating layoffs—all these alarming trends can be linked to a lack of corporate regulation. As Harper and Teachout put it, “Concentration issues…sit at the heart of what is wrong with our economy.”
Technology companies in particular have established anticompetitive policies that for too long have gone unchecked in the United States. Several major companies control sprawling platforms and marketplaces where they boost their own content and products to the detriment of others. Recently, 125 newspapers across 11 states filed lawsuits against Google and Facebook for monopolistic practices that have led to plummeting ad revenue. The Nation is part of a lawsuit filed against Google for stifling rival advertising networks in favor of its own. As I told Nation readers, this isn’t an ordinary lawsuit—it is about recognizing that to ensure the future of independent media, we must fight for it.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.