Acting Chairwoman vows to strongly enforce existing antitrust law to protect Americans from rising monopoly power and anticompetitive mergers
Agency will prioritize deterrence and rulemaking to promote more competitive markets for consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs
Slaughter supports congressional effort to clean up bad case law, impose clear presumptions, reduce burdens on enforcers, and consider wider reaching rules for problematic markets
In testimony on legislative reform of the antitrust laws, presented before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, FTC Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter presented her views on modernizing and strengthening antitrust laws to better protect the public and U.S. markets from rising monopoly power and anticompetitive mergers and conduct.
The Acting Chairwoman emphasized her intent for the FTC to use its existing authority in pursuing bold enforcement, and to utilize all its tools, including rulemaking to do so. She welcomed Congress’s effort to use its legislative powers to modernize and strengthen antitrust law and help the agency fully address the market power that has become pervasive across our economy.
“The FTC has an obligation to ensure that the economic system and the markets are not rigged to benefit the big and powerful at the expense of consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs, who rely on competitive and fair markets,” the Acting Chairwoman testified. “Aggressive enforcement, including bold and innovative use of the FTC’s existing authority, can and should be complemented by this Committee’s work to sharpen antitrust laws and to impose broader market-wide restrictions that address pervasive anticompetitive conduct and conditions.”
The Acting Chairwoman also noted that the FTC would use bold action to prioritize deterrence as a goal in its case selection and resolution strategies, by recalibrating its tolerance for litigation risk and adopting a settlement policy that fully eliminates the risk of future harm, the testimony states. The agency will use the full range of its tools to stop unfair methods of competition, including rulemaking and more stand-alone Section 5 enforcement in competition cases, according to the testimony.
The Acting Chairwoman stated that she strongly supports efforts by Congress to reform the antitrust laws more broadly, noting that even the most effective enforcement efforts are no substitute for legislative changes that clean up bad case law, impose clear presumptions, reduce untenable burdens on enforcers, and consider wider reaching rules for particularly problematic markets. Acting Chairwoman Slaughter emphasized her belief that our antitrust laws protect the democratic ideal of fair participation in a free society and that robust antitrust law enforcement leads to competitive markets with low prices, more innovation, better conditions of supply, and opportunities for all to prosper.
Regarding specific legislative proposals in Congress, the Acting Chairwoman’s testimony highlighted several that she believes could materially improve enforcers’ ability to challenge anticompetitive mergers and conduct: clearer bright-line rules to minimize the need to engage in expensive efforts to both measure and balance harm and efficiencies, shifting the burden of proof to the merging parties and right-sizing the standard of proof for unlawful mergers.
The Acting Chairwoman noted that while the FTC remains committed to efficiently marshalling its resources in order to protect consumers and promote competition, significant help from Congress will go a long way for more aggressive enforcement.
The Acting Chairwoman was joined on the Subcommittee Panel by FTC Commissioner Noah Phillips, who also provided testimony.