The National Taxpayers Union sent a letter to House Republicans Thursday calling on members to back off pursuit of antitrust legislation as bipartisan support for enhanced regulation might be growing on Capitol Hill.
The National Taxpayers Union spearheaded the letter, signed by 15 other groups, condemning new legislation to rein in Big Tech as antithetical to conservative values of free enterprise, never mind that the Silicon Valley tech empires have illustrated their capability to suffocate the open market on their own by amassing online monopolies.
“These companies provide valuable services to hundreds of millions of American and global consumers,” the letter reads, calling demands for new 21st-century antitrust legislation “politically-motivated efforts to tear apart successful firms simply because they’re big or for any number of other arbitrary reasons.”
The so-called conservative National Taxpayers Union, which led the effort recruiting groups to sign on, is also named on Google’s list of associations that “receive the most substantial contributions” from the California company. Several other signatories, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the R Street Institute, and TechFreedom, are also featured on Google’s list of supported organizations.
The letter, addressed to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans, was confirmed to The Federalist to have been received by Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, Florida Rep. Greg Steube, and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, all of whom sit prominently on the House subcommittee on antitrust.
In a statement to The Federalist, Buck rejected the idea that lawmakers were weaponizing the power of the legislature for political purposes.
“The Republicans and Democrats that I’ve spoken to agree that Big Tech is far too powerful and companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have violated antitrust laws,” Buck said. “These companies have acted illegally to crush innovation and silence competitors. Congress cannot sit idly by and allow this to happen.”
House lawmakers on the Judiciary’s subcommittee on antitrust released their findings and recommendations last fall following a 15-month investigation centered on anti-competitive market practices by Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Buck, a leading contender to serve as ranking member of the powerful subcommittee, authored a minority report expanding on what was released by his majority colleagues, highlighting common ground in several areas of marketplace problems ripe for reform. The net-worth of the big four now exceeds $5 trillion, about a third of the entire S&P 100, as the corporate powerhouses have continued to thrive under the draconian lockdowns imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Steube also rejected the idea that pursuing new internet rules flies contradictory to conservative values and endorsed free markets. The Florida lawmaker cited the unique liability protections afforded to the tech giants from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields them from accountability not found in any other industry, empowering the Silicon Valley arbiters of the digital public square to engage in selective censorship.
While some members of Congress are still confident that bipartisanship is growing to reign in Big Tech, after the tech giants engaged in widespread election interference to the benefit of Democrats last fall, Steube said he thinks the bipartisan tide against Big Tech appears to have changed.
“Suddenly, with everything that happened in the election, I haven’t heard a peep from the Democrats on breaking up Big Tech,” Steube told The Federalist, after House Democrats spearheaded the initial crusade to crack down on the internet monopolies.
While the House subcommittee on antitrust released its reports last fall, no meetings have taken place yet in the session with new bipartisan legislation proposed based on its conclusions. Earlier this month, Steube reintroduced his bill to reform Section 230 that was proposed in the last Congress, called the CASE-IT Act.
Thursday’s letter from the National Taxpayers Union follows another similar message that circulated Capitol Hill last week, as reported by the Washington Times, featuring another list of signatory groups financially backed by Google.
Five out of the 25-conservative-group coalition in last week’s letter received “most substantial contributions” from Google, including the American Action Forum, the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the National Taxpayers Union.