Political commentators and constituents alike are quick to judge the actions of politicians, and often they are within their right to do so. However, recent criticism aimed at senators who have chosen not to embroil themselves in the fight to regulate tech companies are unfounded. Our senators are making the right decision for Coloradans.
We can all appreciate that those on the side of antitrust reform often rely on historical references to the use of antitrust statutes in the 20th century. While the free market isn’t perfect, it’s preferable, generally, to increased regulation — except in limited circumstances such as price fixing. And of course, both sides share an interest in advancing a healthy, competitive economy.
But recent writing on the matter, including Trish Zornio’s piece published in The Colorado Sun, fails to address the substance of the legislation itself, and the poor timing of efforts to over-regulate a critical sector of our economy.
While many look for faults in the reasoning behind legislators not pushing antitrust bills, is it not possible that Colorado’s senators understand the pitfalls of legislation aimed squarely at technology companies that continue to invest billions into our state? Are we willing, as Trish Zorino apparently is, to chalk up their quiet positions on anti-tech legislation to “commercials” and not to the reality that the bills could put American companies at a competitive disadvantage to foreign and adversarial counterparts?
Economic analysis has shown that the antitrust provisions, by disrupting internal tech company structures and banning consumer-oriented products, would result in $319 billion in economic loss in the form of higher retail prices and the decline of free services. The same study found that the legislation could reduce venture capital funding by 12%.
And it isn’t just economic impacts that put antitrust policies on the wrong side of level-headed decision makers. Perhaps of even greater significance to lawmakers is the fact that tech policy is not what keeps voters up at night.
Recent polling done by the US Chamber of Commerce lays it out plain and simple: a firm majority of voters, 70%, are uninterested in seeing lawmakers spend their time creating new regulations for tech companies when they could be dedicating time to fighting inflation and instituting policies that bring prices down.
The results of the survey speak volumes to where the attention of constituents’ rests today – some 64% of surveyed voters are concerned about where the economy is headed. And just as voters are voicing their concerns over the state of our economy, the poll indicates they’ve also made clear that tech regulatory policy does not appear to be a solution for economic woes.
Legislators who distance themselves from tech regulation and antitrust legislation are not missing the mark. Instead, they are trying to direct their colleagues to the issues that really matter, here in Colorado and across the country.
If anything, we should be praising senators, including Colorado Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, who have their minds in the right place at a critical junction for not only their respective parties, but our country as well. Voters are hungry for positive policy change, and many of us are at the edge of our seats to see promises from our legislators realized.
Tending to the niche interests of a few lawmakers who are locked in on tech does little to quell inflation concerns, address rising gas prices, or ease nervous parents who worry about consistently high grocery bills. If lawmakers want to do what is right for their constituents, which I believe is the first priority of Colorado’s elected officials, then tech is certainly not a priority for legislating.
To those who criticize the direction and focus of Colorado’s leaders: Perhaps think again about the real concerns of your friends, family, and neighbors. Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper, and other level-headed members of Congress, understand that now is not the time to introduce legislation that could create unwanted instability for online marketplaces, potentially hamstring our nation’s leading economic drivers, and of course, distract from the areas where we have the chance to introduce real positive change.
With August recess within reach and a busy fall ahead, taking a 21st-Century approach to policymaking is key. We should appreciate that our senators are paying attention to the waning days of this Congress to focus on more pressing issues and bringing solutions for Colorado.
Curtis Gardner is a member of the Aurora City Council.