Senator Hawley Introduces The ‘Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act’: A Plan to Bust Up Anti-Competitive Big Businesses

Monday, April 12, 2021

Today, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced the Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act, new legislation to take back control from big business and return it to the American people. Senator Hawley’s bill will crack down on mergers and acquisitions by mega-corporations and strengthen antitrust enforcement to pursue the breakup of dominant, anticompetitive firms.

“A small group of woke mega-corporations control the products Americans can buy, the information Americans can receive, and the speech Americans can engage in. These monopoly powers control our speech, our economy, our country, and their control has only grown because Washington has aided and abetted their quest for endless power.

Senator Josh Hawley

“While Big Tech, Big Banks, Big Telecom, and Big Pharma gobbled up more companies and more market share, they gobbled up our freedom and competition. American consumers and workers have paid the price. Woke corporations want to run this country and Washington is happy to let them. It’s time to bust up them up and restore competition.”

The Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act will:

  • Ban all mergers and acquisitions by companies with market capitalization exceeding $100 billion
    • Example: Google could not purchase Waze and incorporate it into the Maps app
  • Empower the FTC to designate “dominant digital firms” exercising dominant market power in particular internet markets, which will be prohibited from buying out potential competitors
    • Example: Facebook’s dominance in social networking should prevent it from acquiring startups seeking to build new social media platforms
  • Prohibit dominant digital firms from privileging their own search results over those of competitors without explicit disclosure
    • Example: Google could not promote its own reviews over Yelp reviews without disclosing the affiliation up front
  • Reform the Sherman and Clayton Acts to make clear that direct evidence of anticompetitive conduct is sufficient to support an antitrust claim, which will allow enforcers to effectively pursue the breakup of dominant firms and prevent antitrust cases from devolving into battles between economists 
    • Example: Facebook’s complete acquisition of a major competitor, Instagram, should be sufficient to justify antitrust action without needing to bring in specialists to define the “social networking market”
  • Replace the outdated numerically-focused standard for evaluating antitrust cases, which allows giant conglomerates to escape scrutiny by focusing on short-term considerations, with a standard emphasizing the protection of competition in the U.S.
  • Clarify that “vertical” mergers are not exempt from antitrust scrutiny
    • Example: Amazon could not acquire additional companies in its supply chain
  • Drastically increase antitrust penalties by requiring companies that lose federal antitrust suits to forfeit all their profits resulting from monopolistic conduct