A Democratic House candidate in Iowa thinks antitrust reform will resonate with voters.
Austin Frerick, the first in his family to finish college, returned to his home state from several economics jobs in Washington to run for office. He says wages are stagnating and prices have gone up because monopolies have been allowed to thrive. This is the same message Democratic stalwarts like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and some consumer groups are touting.
His challenge is talking about a complicated policy issue in terms that resonate with voters. On his website, he cites baby food, eyeglasses, pet food, and cable television as areas where corporate consolidation has caused prices to rise.
Frerick wants more active antitrust enforcement from the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission. He also wants changes to antitrust laws that would enable enforcers to go after monopolies and dominant companies in a broader way.
This campaign will be a field test of Democrats’ decision to focus on competition policy. Last year, Democratic leaders identified corporate power as a core political target when they unveiled an agenda that targeted blockbuster corporate mergers. Their plan called for new merger standards that require regulators to review how the deals impact wages and jobs.
As 2018 midterm elections draw closer, more Democratic candidates could embrace this message as part of their campaigns. We don’t know yet how Republicans will respond.
Frerick knows his audience. He’s targeted agriculture consolidation as his main issue, zeroing in on the harms of Bayer AG’s $66 billion takeover of Monsanto Co. that is currently being reviewed by the Justice Department. His campaign recently rolled out a video featuring a local farmer who says he’s concerned about the future of agriculture as farmers are forced to pay more for seeds from big agriculture companies.
Frerick told Bloomberg Law that these concerns about how consolidation impacts voters’ bottom line “validates the anger that fueled [President Donald Trump’s] rise.”
“I’m going to shift that conversation. Let’s blame these corporations,” he said. “We’ve really made inroads with the rural community, especially farmers, with this message.”
It’s still early in the campaign season. Frerick is in a primary against six other Democratic candidates for the chance to unseat incumbent Rep. David Young, a Republican. That means he’ll have to make himself stand out among other Democrats, who probably aren’t that different from him, before he gets the chance to challenge a Republican opponent about corporate consolidation.
He thinks he’s found the sweet spot to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. “I believe this is the issue of our time and we’re living in a second Gilded Age,” he said.
The Heritage Foundation on Tuesday will host a conference discussing Trump’s antitrust policy after one year.
The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Thursday is scheduled to hold a hearing on reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
“All eyes in the antitrust arena are going to be poised on the upcoming trial in the AT&T and Time Warner matter and how that ultimately plays out,” said former FTC Chairman Edith Ramirez.
Want to be alerted to the next post? Contact email@example.com and you’ll be added to the list.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)