Whither Antitrust Enforcement in the Trump Administration?

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What should one expect in the area of antitrust from the Trump administration?

The Republican platform did not mention antitrust. However, as a candidate, President Trump made several statements that suggest a very aggressive approach to antitrust.

Antitrust enforcement generally has bipartisan support. Washington antitrust lawyers tend to say that Republican and Democratic administrations differ only “at the margins.” Perhaps, but those “margins” can be pretty large. Price-fixing enforcement is a priority, regardless of the party controlling the White House. However, merger enforcement and civil non-merger enforcement can vary significantly, depending on the inclinations of the leadership at the Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission and the overall approach of the administration.

We sketch out in this article two broad—and generally conflicting—approaches that might form the basis for Trump administration antitrust policy. As a kind of shorthand, we refer to these as “reining in corporate power” and “laissez faire.” In the language of the angry electorate, these instead might be called “fixing the rigged system” and “triumph of the 1%.” There is, of course, a continuum of policy choices along this dimension, from more to less interventionist.

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February 2017 Antitrustsource 1