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Fear loathing tech startups

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President Joe Biden has decided to put Lina Khan on the Federal Trade Commission. She is a law professor at Columbia University who has been backed by anti-Big Tech activists.

Along with the recent hiring of Tim Wu as an economic adviser in the White House, which was also first reported by Playbook, Khan’s hiring shows that Biden is ready to take a tough stance on Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other tech giants when it comes to regulation.

This week, an FBI agent called Khan’s friends as part of her background check. This is the last step before a major job in the administration is officially announced. Sources say Khan is going to the FTC if she gets confirmed by the Senate. The addition of Khan and Wu is a huge philosophical change from the time of Barack Obama, who was proud to bring the Democratic Party and Big Tech together.

At the end of the 2008 presidential campaign, a top Obama adviser was amazed that Eric Schmidt, then the CEO of Google, had worked so closely with the Obama campaign on its tech infrastructure that the work and advice should have been seen as a huge in-kind donation. During Obama’s time in office, the White House and Silicon Valley worked well together.

The rise of Khan and Wu, two of the most important intellectuals in the recent “progressive antitrust revival,” shows a break with the past and suggests that Biden agrees with the left’s view that Obama’s “let-it-all-hang-out” policies contributed to the populist backlash that led to the election of Donald Trump.

Adding Khan to the FTC is a move that will probably make the tech industry nervous. It also shows that the White House is laying the groundwork for a second act that will include a big push for regulation after its early legislative agenda is done.

Khan would be one of three Democratic commissioners at the agency. The agency is in charge of privacy, data security, and some antitrust enforcement. It has come under fire for not doing enough to keep an eye on big tech companies like Google and Facebook and how they handle privacy and mergers. She would also be the youngest FTC commissioner ever at the age of 32.

Her credentials are: Khan worked as an assistant for the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee’s investigation into antitrust and major tech platforms like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook. Khan focused on Google’s behavior in the online search market during the 16-month investigation. Before that, she was a fellow at the FTC, where she pushed for the agency to make clearer rules about when companies break competition law.

Doing her homework: Khan was a law student at Yale when he wrote “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” a groundbreaking paper that looked at how the online retail giant’s behavior, especially its pricing practices, could break antitrust law.

A BETTER PROBLEM IN 2022—One complaint about the COVID relief bill is that it would take a lot of help from poor families after a year, which could put them right back into poverty. In an article published Monday, the AP focused on the politics of the bill’s temporary childcare tax credit, which is also important to pay attention to.

A few important sentences from the story: “The expanded benefits in the coronavirus relief plan set a precedent that could put Republicans on the defensive on the issue.” Since the benefit ends after a year under the current system, the Biden plan could lead to a fiscal cliff for poor children. During an election year, this could set up a political showdown over whether voters think it’s okay for millions of children to lose the extra help and go back to being poor.

Samuel Hammond, director of poverty and welfare policy at the Niskanen Center, said, “When it comes time to renew it, Republicans will be in the awkward position of being against payments to families through a credit that they created and pushed for as recently as 2017.” … “No Republican wants to run for office on a platform of taking money from families of any income level.”


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