PublishedSeptember 15, 2011

DOJ Enforces Antitrust Law on AT&T Takeover – Despite Political Pressure

The Department of Justice’s decision to block AT&T’s takeover of its competitor T-Mobile came as no surprise to antitrust experts, as our CEO said in a Huffington Post column, it was a “no brainer.”
But still, the lawsuit was reassuring to those who have  spent enough time in Washington to know that sometimes the good of the many can be trumped by the louder , politically well connected voice of one company or special interest.
CCIA commended the DOJ in a Washington Times op ed this week for standing in the face of political pressure and blocking this merger. In the end DOJ sorted through conflicting information and determined this merger would cost jobs in the short run and innovation in the long run. Again, not really news. When has a merger ever really resulted in job increases?
But the attempts to make politics trump the law keep coming…
The news today that 14 Democrats have sent a letter to President Obama to pressure DOJ to not enforce our antitrust laws and just give AT&T approval to turn the wireless sector into a duopoly is a little puzzling.
It seems like if you want an independent agency to compromise on law enforcement, it would compiling influence problems on top of legal issues to have the executive branch make the questionable request.
News reports explain fairly well that DOJ was willing to consider other proposals from AT&T — and would only block proposals that violate antitrust law like this one.
It just seems odd  that in an era of too big to fail companies, some members of Congress would intervene to ask that we ignore the rules designed to protect consumers, industry and our economy — so that one company (with a history of abusing its market power) could get bigger.

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