WASHINGTON – As Congress reconvenes this week with a long legislative to-do list, Competitiveness Coalition member and President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund Mario Lopez urged conservative lawmakers to reject one of the bills reportedly under consideration: the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICO), S.2992, being championed by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Writing in an op-ed for Townhall, Lopez argues, “unfortunately, the economic implications of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act are as far-reaching as they are detrimental. The AICO Act will pour cold water on tomorrow’s innovators and startups, severely hinder some of today’s more popular features of the Internet, and make life even more expensive amid growing inflation-induced headaches that American families are currently facing.”
Lopez emphasizes that it is crucial for popular services to be affordable for consumers, especially with inflation destroying middle-class budgets. If enacted, the Klobuchar bill would threaten access to the products and services that Americans rely on daily.
“The AICO Act threatens low-cost and generic options by Internet services and sellers by prohibiting certain companies from “preferencing” their own products, leading to a Washington-imposed price hike on yet another expense that Americans will have to take into account when tightening their already squeezed budgets,” said Lopez.
Launched in April 2022, the Competitiveness Coalition is a first-of-its-kind group educating the public and advocating for policies that put consumers first while fostering innovation and attracting new investment.
Read the entire piece at Townhall.com and see key excerpts below:
Former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, whose early warnings about the threat of inflation were ignored, has cautioned that, “policies that attack bigness can easily be inflationary.” He has labeled the approach as, “hipster antitrust.” Indeed, the AICO Act would apply only to companies whose market capitalization thresholds exceed $550 billion, a specific figure that applies only to a handful of familiar names and leave little room for doubt about the cronyism baked into the bill.
The AICO Act’s intrusion into the private sector haven’t stopped some right-of-center names from supporting the legislation. The Market Institute’s recent white paper shows how the AICO Act undermines the “consumer welfare standard” to judge whether a company is employing unfair business practices, and the predominant regulatory approach that has been used by both Republican and Democrat administrations since the Reagan era. Rather than artificial regulations set by politicians under a model that presumes that “big is bad,” the consumer welfare standard, as its name suggests, focuses on the impact to the actual customer.
At least some of the trend of adopting a more left of center approach is rooted in the dislike of certain technology companies that is simmering in conservative circles, where misplaced accusations of “censorship” are pervasive.
The AICO Act explicitly does not address content moderation, however. Senator Klobuchar admitted as much when faced with progressive pressure. Conservatives seeking to “punish” tech companies over perceived political bias don’t really have a substantive leg to stand on, leaving reasonable observers to note that petty revenge is really their motivating factor.
The amount of political capital Senator Klobuchar has spent on this bill is noteworthy, and begs the question of how much 2024 presidential run considerations are factoring into her political calculus. Hillary Clinton, Biden’s Department of Justice and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren all call themselves supporters.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently made waves by promising protestors a vote would take place. Still, he has not indicated that he has the necessary 60 votes needed to pass Klobuchar’s “pet project” legislation.
But because this is a salient topic in an important election year and involves companies that are under the spotlight from certain political sectors, opponents shouldn’t breathe easy until it is quite clear that the AICO Act will not be signed into law. Neither should anyone who cares about good governance and protecting innovation in the economy.