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Open Markets Letter to U.S. House of Representatives Regarding H.R. 5645

Dear Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi,

We write to express concern about H.R. 5645—Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2018. After close review, the Open Markets Institute has concluded that the bill would dangerously reduce the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to protect American citizens from concentrations of power that threaten them politically and economically. Worse, it would do so exactly at a moment when we need a stronger and more active FTC. A broad, bi-partisan consensus acknowledges that America has a big monopoly problem.

May 9, 2018  |  by Open Markets

The following is a letter that the Open Markets Institute wrote and sent to the United States House of Representatives in May of 2018 regarding H.R. 5645 the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2018: 

Dear Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi,

We write to express concern about H.R. 5645—Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2018. After close review, the Open Markets Institute has concluded that the bill would dangerously reduce the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to protect American citizens from concentrations of power that threaten them politically and economically. Worse, it would do so exactly at a moment when we need a stronger and more active FTC. A broad, bi-partisan consensus acknowledges that America has a big monopoly problem. Both the Republican and Democratic Party platforms in 2016 call for more strenuous antitrust enforcement.1 All the commissioners recently confirmed to the FTC, Democrats and Republicans alike, similarly agree that growing market concentration must be checked by vigorous public policy. Increasing monopolization is a main driver of destructive trends ranging from increasing regional and personal inequality to the loss of privacy and the erosion of institutions essential to democracy. Consolidation and monopolization affect every aspect of our political economy. This includes: • Healthcare. Monopoly is a major factor in driving up healthcare prices.2 Due to consolidation among health care providers, prices for certain hospital treatments can be 12 times higher in one area of the country than another and can even vary within a single city by a factor of nine.3 • Entrepreneurship. Monopoly erodes opportunities for starting new businesses. The rate of independent business ownership has been falling since the 1970s with the total share of self-employed Americans dropping from 663 per 10,000 working-age Americans to 606, an 8.5 percent decline.4 The fall has especially hurt minority groups.5 Tech giants contribute to stifling competition by acquiring innovative new firms before they have a chance to grow into rivals.6 • Work and wages. Monopoly erodes the bargaining power of workers. More than 30 million Americans are restricted from selling their labor freely in the market by “noncompete” agreements.7 A large fraction of local job markets are so highly concentrated…

The rest of the letter can be read here: Open Markets Letter to U.S. House of Representatives re HR 5645.

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In America today, wealth and political power are more concentrated than at any point in our country’s history.

The Open Markets Institute, formerly the Open Markets program at New America, was founded to protect liberty and democracy from these extreme -- and growing -- concentrations of private power.

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