1. Conventional wisdom on antitrust enforcement is that Democrats are more interventionist than Republicans, which, at face value, suggests that there will be an uptick in enforcement under President Biden. But convention alone does not tell the whole story as a number of dynamics will influence antitrust policy during the Biden administration.
2. Antitrust policy under the Trump administration was anything but conventional, as Trump maintained a much more populist agenda than previous Republican administrations and was far more politically charged than any administration in recent memory. Due to Trump's hyped-up rhetoric on antitrust relative to other Republican administrations, the "gap" between Trump and Biden may not be as pronounced as other transitions from one party to another, though we should expect more predictable enforcement, less influenced by political pressures, at least on individual matters.
3. As a baseline to forecast the antitrust climate under the Biden administration, we look to the current temperature of the political and regulatory environment, which is red hot. In modeling predictions for Biden's approach, we examine the previous records of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris during their tenure in public office, which does not unlock many meaningful revelations standing alone but provides no reason to believe that the Biden administration will turn the current temperature down.
4. Layering onto that, we assess the public statements of Biden and Harris on the campaign trail, which portend increased focus on antitrust. Analyzing the composition of the leadership of the transition teams for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and US Department of Justice (DOJ) further reinforces expectations for heightened antitrust enforcement under Biden. With these data points piled on top of conventional wisdom, we foresee no reduction in enforcement and potential for a moderate uptick.
5. When we can expect to see changes at the DOJ and FTC is a real question. The answer, explored below, depends on a number of externalities that cannot be known with certainty.
6. What seems most clear is that we can expect a return to an antitrust administration that is less politically charged than Trump's, without "Trump cards" being thrown in the mix by the White House or DOJ leadership.
7. Our final prognostication is that there is some potential for bipartisan revisions to antitrust legislation during Biden's tenure, but a massive sea change in the laws or the process which some have advocated is unlikely.
Originally published by Concurrences.
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