CV NEWS FEED // Some Republicans are discussing the future of the GOP in light of a far-reaching new antitrust bill introduced Monday by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO.
A statement from Hawley’s office calls the bill a “new legislation to take back control from big business and return it to the American people,” and decries “woke” centers of corporate power as anti-competitive, monopolistic, and a menace to free speech.
The “Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act” will “crack down on mergers and acquisitions by mega-corporations and strengthen antitrust enforcement to pursue the breakup of dominant, anti-competitive firms,” the statement promises.
“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,” Hawley added Monday:
…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 them up and restore competition.
Much of the bill would address the control some digital firms have over market competition as well as exchanges of information online.
If passed, for example, Hawley’s bill would ban “all mergers and acquisitions by companies with market capitalization exceeding $100 billion,” allow regulators to prohibit some big tech firms from buying out and killing smaller competitors, and make it harder for dominant tech firms to tamper with search results in favor of their own content.
“This country and this government shouldn’t be run by a few mega-corporations,” said Hawley, commenting in Axios:
“We tried it the way that the big corporatists wanted,” he said, “and it hasn’t been a success for the American consumer, for the American producer, or for the American economy.”
…Hawley’s plan is more than a salvo against Silicon Valley. Its rules on mergers, for instance, would cover dozens of U.S. giants in virtually every economic sector, from banking and health to retail and media.
Analysis: A Vision for the GOP’s Future?
A decade or two ago, many Republicans might have balked at ideas like Hawley’s. But even in the GOP, recent events (including the doubts surrounding election integrity in 2020 and the removal of President Donald Trump from social media platforms) have served to mainstream concerns over corporate power’s role in American politics.
“Basically Hawley recognizes what all conservatives are starting to realize more and more, which is that concentrated power anywhere is a threat to liberty everywhere,” Jon Schweppe told CatholicVote Monday.
Schweppe, who serves as Director of Government Affairs for the American Principles Project, has written extensively about what some call the Great Realignment, in which Democrats are increasingly positioning themselves as the Party of the “ruling class,” while Republicans take up the banner of the American worker.
The GOP has often been called the “Party of Business,” Schweppe explained, and some commentators might attack GOP opposition to “woke” corporate power as a hypocritical reversal.
But opposition to big corporate political maneuverings is not, in fact, a rejection of the historical Republican love for business, Schweppe argues.
Hawley’s “Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act” does not only represent a recognition “that we have to be able to push back in some way against corporate power” when it is “clearly trying to thwart democracy.”
It is also an effort to confront corporate power for “stifling innovation,” which is what happens when “tech companies just buy up whatever smaller firms there are that could threaten them.”
In fact, “Hawley is promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and small business, which are actually traditional republican values,” Schweppe said.
“We need to be a small business and workers’ party,” Schweppe believes. “These are things that everyone from populist Trump supporters to traditional libertarians can agree are good for the economy.”