So why do Biden’s antitrust regulators think that it is okay to dismiss America’s laws and become laws unto themselves when it comes to antitrust? This weakens rule of law, and the American economy will suffer.
The latest incident involves the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sending people to Europe to help the European Union implement its Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DMA is an EU regulation that takes control of some of the most successful business models in history and remakes them so that at least the American companies affected are less profitable, less focused on customers, and less formidable when competing with European rivals.
The US regulators characterize the assistance as being part of a long history of cooperation between antitrust enforcers across the pond and as a natural extension of the US-EU Joint Technology Competition Policy Dialogue. It is true that US regulators have talked with their international counterparts for years, in part to teach about the US system and to share experiences.
But US regulators assisting the EU to implement its DMA is more than the US being an informative neighbor. It is using US taxpayer dollars to execute laws that Congress has not passed, and that are intended to drain US resources and disadvantage US companies.
Pancreatic cancer is almost always fatal because it’s already in late stages by the time it’s caught. Imagine being able to diagnose it while it’s still at stage 1. That can now be done thanks to Grail, a company with a mission to detect cancer early, when it can still be cured.
But Grail’s potential to save lives is seemingly lost on Federal Trade Commission Chairman Lina Khan. She is making unceasing efforts, wrapped in antitrust language, to block Illumina’s acquisition of Grail, a company it spun off in 2016. Based on past applications of antitrust law, there’s no case against the combination. Given the numerous forms of cancer, and how defenseless we are against so many of them, it’s difficult to make the argument that the merger of Illumina and Grail would amount to a monopoly. How can a service (early cancer detection) that doesn’t yet exist amount to a monopoly?
None of this seems to matter to Ms. Khan, whose main objective appears to be restraining the growth of successful businesses. The FTC’s in-house administrative-law judge ruled against her arguments and approved the merger, but Ms. Khan overruled that decision this month. In the meantime, Illumina is prohibited from working to improve access to cancer detection.
It took more than two years for the other shoe to drop, but earlier this month it did. In an executive order signed on April 6, Biden fleshed out the details of how the new regulatory regime will operate. There are three major changes.
First, the executive order changes the threshold for what counts as an “economically significant” regulation from $100 million to $200 million—and orders the new, higher threshold to continue rising with inflation. Because regulations deemed to have economically significant costs are subject to additional layers of scrutiny before being approved, this change would expand the number of regulations that could be approved without that additional oversight.
It’s also a bit laughable to declare that a new regulation costing $199 million is somehow not economically significant—but at least it will ease the burden on the poor put-upon bureaucrats responsible for drafting those rules. About time someone thought of them.
Secondly, Biden’s new rules instruct federal agencies to “promote equitable and meaningful participation by a range of interested or affected parties, including underserved communities.” This push for greater equity is so complicated that it requires a separate 10-page memo explaining how to implement it. That includes new guidance for how the White House’s Office for Information and Regulatory Affairs should “facilitate the initiation of meeting requests” from groups that have “not historically requested such meetings, including those from underserved communities.”
Yet story after story in the media alerts readers of the horrible things that could happen if these paltry cuts are implemented. Flight delays would mount due to air traffic control budget reductions; hunger would afflict children; suicides would skyrocket. Woe would sweep over the republic.
Really? I don’t recall chronic flight delays or a food crisis in, say, 2019. Yet at the time discretionary spending was $1.338 trillion, or some $320 billion less than what Republicans want that side of the budget to be after their cuts. I wish people would stop fearmongering for a second so we can have a real conversation about our fiscal future.
George Will takes stock of 2024’s U.S. presidential race. Here’s his conclusion:
One or both of the major parties might, depending on their calculations of a third candidate’s appeal, accuse No Labels of being a spoiler. Let those parties try to explain how today’s politics could be spoiled.
Alternatively, think of the demand and supply curves not as typically shown in economics textbooks — well-defined and known — but as relationships surrounded by clouds of indeterminacy. At the time real-world producers must decide their price and output plans, they do not, in fact, know what the demand curve will be, a typically unnoticed-but-false assumption snuck in by drawing a specific, implicitly assumed-to-be-known, demand curve at the beginning of the analysis.
Without such a well-defined demand curve, known in advance, a producer cannot actually know how much total revenue will change for an additional unit of output (the marginal revenue, which microeconomics books assume producers will adjust output until it equals marginal cost). With uncertainty, marginal cost can’t be known in advance, either. Many unanticipated things could change it, from disasters to health problems for workers to accidents to hacking attacks to changes in government policy. As a result, the neat MR = MC equation of economics principles texts can no longer tell a producer what to do in order to successfully maximize his profits, as Armen Alchian pointed out long ago in his“Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory.” And I can still remember what he said to my graduate school class in summarizing this point: “I have been an economist long enough to recognize that ‘I don’t know’ is an intellectually respectable answer.”
Consequently, as Paul Heyne noted in his The Economic Way of Thinking textbook, economists know far more about what not to do, because some choices are clearly inferior to other options, than what to do, which requires we know the absolutely best choice in a situation.
They didn’t want to open schools because they were scared for their own safety. They ignored the experience of Sweden. And they made impossible demands to reopen. Including Ashish jha. They kept saying safely, but the standards could never be sated. Ultimately nothing was needed