Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has reintroduced the “American Innovation and Choice Online Act” (AICOA), a bill so flawed that she failed to ram it through last Congress despite Democratic control of both chambers and the White House.
No matter what version of AICOA Klobuchar tries to sell the American people in the 118th Congress, the bill would grow the size and scope of government so dramatically that it remains unworthy of support. Lawmakers should continue to reject AICOA.
Klobuchar announced AICOA’s reintroduction in a press release on Thursday after 5pm before a holiday weekend, a lackluster sign of confidence in the bill and her overall legislative agenda.
Klobuchar’s press release failed to note that AICOA has lost 5 cosponsors since the 117th Congress. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Beach Club), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Steve Daines (R-N.D.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wy.), and John Kennedy (R-La.) have all dropped off the bill.
The version of AICOA Klobuchar tried and failed to pass last Congress enacted a litany of new restrictions on the business practices on companies above a certain size, a government-set cap on growth and innovation. One provision would ban these targeted companies from promoting their own private-label products next to name-brand products. If a bureaucrat determines that a company has violated AICOA’s deliberately vague provisions, they can whack the company with a “death penalty” fine of up to 10 percent in revenue.
The bill’s original sin is that it treats companies above an arbitrary government-determined size differently than their smaller rivals. If a business practice is bad, it should be illegal for every business, not just a select few. If the left is successful at imposing this market cap regulation mechanism, they will be able to trap any industry under the heavy hand of government.
AICOA faced a bipartisan firewall of opposition in the 117th Congress. According to Politico, one Democrat Senate aide called the bill Klobuchar’s “pet project” that had zero political payoff, saying: “We should be focused on items that will help consumers deal with rising costs…[and] nobody can figure out why it would be a priority.” Americans for Tax Reform and 45 free-market groups and activists sent a letter last summer in opposition to the Klobuchar bill.
Even if some dark sorcery allowed the Klobuchar bill to escape the Senate, AICOA is most likely dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House. Over the weekend, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that another Klobuchar priority would never hit the House floor. In a sign of how far Democrats have moved away from Klobuchar’s pet projects, Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.), a vocal opponent of AICOA, was just named ranking member of the House antitrust subcommittee.
Ultimately, while AICOA may be back from the grave, it is very much still in the hospice wing on life support. Lawmakers should continue to reject AICOA in any form.