Amy Klobuchar on Corporations

DFL Sr Senator (MN); Democratic presidential contender


Consolidations like "Beerhemoth" can hurt craft brewers

I've worked to draw attention to the growing problems of runaway corporation consolidation and monopoly power: the often esoteric topic of antitrust. In 2015, I held a hearing titled, "Merger and the state of competition in the beer industry." This merger [of several large beer companies] "could have negative consequences for consumers, and could deprive thriving craft and independent brewers of distribution channels critical for reaching retail consumers." I pointed out that the growing "Beerhemoth" consolidation in the industry is concerning and that efforts must always be to protect the emergence of craft protectors that have brought so much needed competition back into the beer market. As of 2018, more than 7000 breweries and beer pubs were operating in the US (with more than 170 in my home state of Minnesota); those independent craft breweries must be allowed to compete effectively against the industries' biggest players. And the best part? The independence means American jobs.
Source: Antitrust, by Amy Klobuchar, p.178 , Apr 27, 2021

How courts define market may limit application of antitrust

How antitrust enforcement agencies and the courts define what the relevant market is, can determine the outcome of the analysis as to whether there is an antitrust violation. For example, in 2008, the Justice Department approved a merger between satellite radio's two principal carriers, XM Satellite Radio Holdings and Sirius Satellite Radio. "Although critics argue that the relevant market was satellite radio," [with 17 million consumers] one book notes, "the Justice Department concluded that satellite radio was a small piece of a larger market that included radio and other music delivery services, such as Apple iPods and online entertainment." If the relevant market is defined too broadly, mergers and acquisitions can too easily escape the scrutiny of regulators, and not only are consumers left with fewer and fewer choices, but dominant companies are permitted to escape liability for their anticompetitive conduct.
Source: Antitrust, by Amy Klobuchar, p.249 , Apr 27, 2021

More effective to rebrand antitrust as "competition policy"

It's not ever going to be easy to get the public to perk up when they hear the word "antitrust". That word came from America's historic1880's social movement that rose up against trusts--the behemoth trusts made famous by ultra-wealthy men with their famous middle initials. It's a word that's admittedly, somewhat outdated, even though the idea it represents--that competition must be zealously safeguarded--is as important and relevant as ever. "Antitrust", a professor explains, is actually "a horrible word--so negative, so poorly descriptive of the actual field, so antiquated." Although American lawyers and judges still speak of antitrust law and antitrust violations because of the way American law developed over many decades, the antitrust terminology is not as prevalent elsewhere: "In most other countries that have an analogue to the United States' Sherman Act," the professor observers, "antitrust law is called competition law, a more positive and evocative way of describing the field."
Source: Antitrust, by Amy Klobuchar, p.274-275 , Apr 27, 2021

Shift burden of proof to companies on megamerger's impact

In September 2017, I introduced legislation--and did so again in 2021--to protect competition and prevent consolidation of industries that would be harmful to the consumers. It proposes to amend the Clayton Act to:
  1. restore the original purpose of the antitrust laws to prevent anticompetitive mergers;
  2. shift the burden of proof for megamergers and dominant firm mergers to the consolidating parties to prove that the merger does not harm competition;
  3. create the office of the competition advocate to encourage antitrust investigations and to analyze and publish reports on merger activity; and
  4. add the term "monopsony" to the Clayton Act so that it is clear that single buyers controlling a market can be found to violate the law.
A monopsony, often referred to as a buyer's monopoly, is a market condition in which there is only one buyer or in which a large buyer controls a large portion of the market and drives down prices.
Source: Antitrust, by Amy Klobuchar, p.293 , Apr 27, 2021

Companies owned by same shareholders akin to trusts

Companies seek to maximize their profits, but if two "competitor" companies are actually owned by shareholders, those companies begin to resemble old style "trusts" and are incentivized to compete less aggressively so that they can each reap higher profits, thus benefiting their common owners. As a result, prices rise and competitors suffer. For example, higher levels of horizontal shareholding have been shown to increase pharmaceutical prices and-of special interest to farmers-the cost of seeds.
Source: Antitrust, by Amy Klobuchar, p. 260-261 , Apr 27, 2021

Ban antitrust violators from working in the same industry

When violations are detected & penalties for antitrust violations are imposed, the violators should be held accountable for their actions and be banned from working in the same industry. Right now, cartel activity is not being adequately punished, and violators are all too frequently just receive the equivalent of a police verbal warning at a traffic stop before going right back to doing what they were doing before. Clearly, much more needs to be done to detect and permanently shutter cartels.
Source: Antitrust, by Amy Klobuchar, p.307 , Apr 27, 2021

Consolidation of business leading to startup slump

I was in the private sector for 14 years. What I saw was when we got more competition there the prices went down in a big way. Right now we have another gilded age going on. The issue here is this, start talking about this as a pro competition issue. This used to be a Republican and Democratic issue because our founding fathers wanted to have less consolidation. We were a place of entrepreneurship. We are seeing a startup slump in this country and this means everything from tech on dow
Source: October Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate , Oct 15, 2019

Update law, but treat tech companies on case by case basis

Q: Elizabeth Warren wants to break up tech companies. Do you?

A: I've been trying to use antitrust law and make changes there. Some of them you may spin off parts of the companies, some of them you may break off. But I think you should do it by getting those things investigated and figure out which company is doing what. I would then change the law so that no longer does the government have to prove that it reduces competition; the companies have to prove that they don't materially reduce competition.

Source: NPR Morning Edition, "Election 2020: Opening Arguments" , Mar 19, 2019

Put burden of proof on competitiveness on companies

I would change the standards under the law so that no longer does the government have to prove that it reduces competition to throw something out; that in fact the companies have to prove that they don't materially reduce competition, which is also a language change to the standard, and also that you can look back at deals like what Facebook just did by buying Instagram and other apps, that you can look to see, even though they already did it, is that anti-competitive?
Source: NPR Morning Edition: Election 2020 Special Series , Mar 19, 2019

I helped avoid closing 28 profitable MN car dealerships

The incumbent's first television commercial this year promoted her work in saving Minnesota car dealer jobs. She said that as a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, car dealer representatives approached her for help after big car makers began ordering some local dealers to close. "They were unilaterally shutting down these dealerships that were profitable," Klobuchar said, taking credit for saving 28 Minnesota dealerships.
Source: West Central Tribune Ad-Watch on 2012 MN Senate debate , Oct 20, 2012

Screen imports & ban lead in children's products.

Klobuchar co-sponsored screening imports & ban lead in children's products

A bill to reform the Consumer Product Safety Commission to provide greater protection for children`s products, to improve the screening of non-compliant consumer products, to improve the effectiveness of consumer product recall programs, and for other purposes.

House version is H.R.4040.
Source: CPSC Reform Act (S.2663) 08-S2663 on Feb 25, 2008

Rated 86% by UFCW, indicating an anti-management/pro-labor record.

Klobuchar scores 86% by UFCW on labor-management issues

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is North America`s Neighborhood Union--1.3 million members with UFCW locals in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. Our members work in supermarkets, drug stores, retail stores, meatpacking and meat processing plants, food processing plants, and manufacturing workers who make everything from fertilizer to shoes. We number over 60,000 strong with 25,000 workers in chemical production and 20,000 who work in garment and textile industries.

    The UFCW Senate scorecard is based on these key votes:
  1. American Jobs Act (+)
  2. Balanced Budget Amendment (-)
  3. Rejecting Cut, Cap, and Balance (+)
  4. Repeal Health Care Law (-)
  5. Sen. Am. 14 Wicker Am. to S 223, excluding unionization at TSA (-)
  6. Sen. Am. 740 McCain Am. to HR 2112, defunding TAA (-)
  7. Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act (TAA) (+)
Source: UFCW website 12-UFCW-S on May 2, 2012

Deregulating banks encourages discriminatory practices.

Klobuchar voted NAY Banking Bill

Congressional Summary:

Supporting press release from Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN-6): This legislation will foster economic growth by providing relief to Main Street, tailor regulations for better efficacy, and most importantly it will empower individual Americans and give them more opportunity.

Opposing statement on ProPublica.org from Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY-5): The bill includes many provisions I support: minority-owned banks and credit unions in underserved communities have legitimate regulatory burden concerns. Unfortunately, exempting mortgage disclosures enacted to detect discriminatory practices will only assist the Trump Administration in its overall effort to curtail important civil rights regulations. I simply cannot vote for any proposal that would help this Administration chip away at laws that I and my colleagues worked so hard to enact and preserve.

Legislative outcome: Passed House 258-159-10 on May 22, 2018(Roll call 216); Passed Senate 67-31-2 on March 14, 2018(Roll call 54); Signed by President Trump. May 24, 2018

Source: Congressional vote 16-S2155 on Mar 14, 2018

Reducing tax rates balloons federal deficit & cuts programs.

Klobuchar voted NAY Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Summary by GovTrack.US: (Nov 16, 2017)

Case for voting YES by Heritage Foundation (12/19/17):This is the most sweeping update to the US tax code in more than 30 years. The bill would lower taxes on businesses and individuals and unleash higher wages, more jobs, and untold opportunity through a larger and more dynamic economy. The bill includes many pro-growth features, including a deep reduction in the corporate tax rate, a scaled-back state and local tax deduction, full expensing for five years, and lower individual tax rates.

Case for voting NO by Sierra Club (11/16/17): Republicans have passed a deeply regressive tax plan that will result in painful cuts to core domestic programs, to give billionaires and corporate polluters tax cuts while making American families pay the price. Among the worst provisions:

  • This plan balloons the federal deficit by over $1.5 trillion. Cutting taxes for the rich now means cuts to the federal budget and entitlements later.
  • The bill hampers the booming clean energy economy by ending tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and for wind and solar energy.
  • The bill opens up the Arctic Refuge to drilling, a thinly veiled giveaway to the fossil fuel industry.

    Legislative outcome: Passed House, 224-201-7, roll call #699 on 12/20; passed Senate 51-48-1, roll call #323 on 12/20; signed by Pres. Trump on 12/22.

    Source: Congressional vote 17-HR1 on Nov 16, 2017

    Restrict corporate use of consumer mandatory arbitration.

    Klobuchar signed restricting corporate use of consumer mandatory arbitration

    Excerpts from Letter from 35 Senators to the CFPB: We write to commend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for its proposed rule to limit the use of mandatory, pre-dispute (`forced`) arbitration clauses in consumer financial product and service contracts. Every day, Americans across the country are forced to sign away their constitutional right to access the courts as a condition of purchasing common products and services like credit cards, checking accounts, and private student loans. Binding arbitration is a privatized justice system that studies show consistently produces results that favor large corporations and offers no meaningful appeals process. As a result, consumers are left without redress, and companies are unaccountable for their unscrupulous behavior.

    Opposing freedom argument: (Cato Institute, `ATLA monopoly,` May 2002): The trial lawyers new goal is to tighten their monopoly grip on the court system, and prevent the rest of us from choosing a more efficient means of resolving our disputes. Arbitration is simply private court. Lawyers with a vested interest in a monopoly court system are trying to stop the arbitration business from developing. But there`s nothing forced or mandatory about it. Contracts are the result of choice. People should be free to choose for themselves what contracts to make and what rights to give up.

    Opposing economic argument: (Heritage Foundation, `The Unfair Attack on Arbitration,` July 17, 2013): Any study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should examine whether a limit on arbitration would:

    Source: Letter to CFPB Director 17LTR-CFPB on Aug 4, 2016

    Other candidates on Corporations: Amy Klobuchar on other issues:

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