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Silicon Valley Could Get Pass in Democrats’ Antitrust Crusade

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Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren had no problem naming names in her June 29 antitrust speech, calling out Silicon Valley giants Google, Apple and Amazon.com for inhibiting competition.

But fellow Democrats might not be as forthright about biting the hand that feeds them, even in the party’s renewed quest to break up monopolies across U.S. markets.

Big Tech’s role as both lobbyist and Democratic donor makes it harder for the party to deliver on promises to preserve market competition, according to antitrust advocates. The industry’s political leaning has gained renewed attention: Democrats just included the check on big business in their party platform for the first time since 1988.

“High tech is a major political force now — particularly Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook, and Microsoft,” said Robert Reich, Labor Secretary during Bill Clinton’s presidency. “Both parties are drinking from the trough of very concentrated industries, and these industries don’t want antitrusters breathing down their necks.”

Reich, now a public-policy professor at University of California Berkeley who campaigned for former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, said he got a taste of this tension last year when he wrote a New York Times op-ed focused on the need for antitrust in the technology industry.

“I did hear indirectly — not directly, indirectly — from some members of Congress and some Democrats that I shouldn’t be blaming high tech,” Reich said.

If money talks, it’s saying a lot about why those lawmakers are skittish about laying blame on the doorstep of Silicon Valley. The language set to be approved at the Democratic convention next week also was provided to Bloomberg by Warren Gunnels, Sanders’s campaign policy director. – READ MORE

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