Republicans Should Reject Liberal Academic Lina Khan For FTC Commissioner

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, June 14th, 2021, 2:45 PM PERMALINK

The Senate will vote this week to confirm Lina Khan to a seat on the Federal Trade Commission. 

Khan is a radical left-wing academic that will remake the FTC as a super-regulator of the entire economy and turn the clock back decades on antitrust law. 

Senate Republicans should vote NO on Khan’s nomination. 

Khan is a leading scholar in the progressive “hipster antitrust” movement to abandon the long-held consumer welfare standard, under which business conduct is evaluated on whether or not it harms consumers. If consumers are not being harmed through tangible economic effects like higher prices or reduced quality products, antitrust enforcement action is not taken.  

Instead of protecting consumers, Khan’s approach would turn antitrust law into a weapon wielded equally by inefficient companies and unelected Biden bureaucrats.

According to liberals leading the hipster antitrust movement, big companies are responsible for every social ill under the sun, including racism, poverty, and income inequality, among others. Liberals believe these companies abuse their bigness to stifle competition, cheat rivals, and harm workers. For these reasons and others, antitrust hipsters believe that government enforcers should step in and break these companies up, regardless of how it would impact consumers. 

This “big-is-bad” approach is how antitrust law was enforced before the consumer welfare standard was adopted, and it was an abject disaster. Antitrust law’s vague and unfocused nature made all manner of routine business conduct presumptively unlawful. Philosopher-king judges handed down inconsistent rulings designed to punish political enemies or reward political allies. In Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s dissent to United States v. Von’s Grocery, he remarks: “The sole consistency that I can find is that in litigation under [Section 7 of the Clayton Act], the government always wins.” 

If confirmed, Khan would be instrumental in moving antitrust law back to this broken tradition. European-style antitrust legislation introduced last week by House Democrats would give the FTC sweeping new power and increased resources to regulate American companies. 

If Khan makes it on the FTC, the liberal activist-controlled agency would likely use its rulemaking authority to create substantive new antitrust law, circumventing Congress in the process. In such a hostile regulatory environment, companies afraid of aggressive and predatory antitrust litigation would be less likely to engage in robust competition that delivers low prices and quality products for American shoppers. In this new regime, instead of focusing on what is good for consumers, Biden bureaucrats would focus on what is good for Democrat political gain. 

For these reasons, Americans for Tax Reform urges all Senate Republicans to vote against Lina Khan’s confirmation. 

Photo Credit: Norman Maddeaux

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