Earlier this month, President Joe Biden signed a sweeping executive order with broad anti-trust and equity aims. He’s been hampered in seeing that order implemented, however, by not having many of the key personnel to carry it out in place. In the last few weeks, he’s been rectifying that.
One of the most significant is the choice of Jonathon Kanter to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division. Kanter has “been a leading advocate and expert in the effort to promote strong and meaningful antitrust enforcement and competition policy,” the White House said announcing his nomination.
The White House didn’t say it, but Kanter has been kind of a scourge on Big Tech, with a long history of taking on Google, Apple and other major tech firms. As the head of the antitrust division, he’ll be in a position to impose real limits on them, including potentially breaking them up or limiting the size of their businesses. In 2018, Kanter spoke at a conference convened by Yelp where he blasted the lack of meaningful antitrust action by the federal government. “Monopoly cases are the equivalent of jaywalking. You just don’t see them,” he said. “The last big Section 2 case brought by the United States government, under Section 2 of the Sherman Act, is the Microsoft case 20 years ago. So what has gone wrong? How have we lost our way?”
Good government Democrats are thrilled. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the chair of the Senate Judiciary antitrust panel, said that Kanter’s “deep legal experience and history of advocating for aggressive action make him an excellent choice.” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Washington state Democrat who has authored a bill to force companies like Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook to divest some holdings, said Kanter’s nomination is “excellent news for workers, consumers, small businesses, and innovation across America!” Sen. Elizabeth Warren agrees.
If confirmed, Kanter will join two more skeptics, if not downright foes, of Big Tech in the administration: Lina Khan, who heads the FTC (she’s already got Facebook and Amazon “rattled”; and Tim Wu at the National Economic Council (yes, that Tim Wu, the “father of net neutrality”). The three together are the dream team for progressives—so much so that they got coffee mugs made months ago for it.
But Kanter isn’t the only nominee Democrats are rejoicing over. On Monday, Biden announced he’ll be nominating Graham Steele as assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions. Here’s the great news on that one—the former Democratic chief counsel on the Senate Banking committee has also worked for Sen. Sherrod Brown. He also served as Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions & Consumer Protection and is currently the Director of the Corporations and Society Initiative at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He’ll be overseeing Biden’s efforts to tighten regulations on financial institutions.
“This is an excellent choice by President Biden. Graham Steele spent his career fighting Wall Street greed—on the side of working families and consumers,” said Brown. “I am confident that as Assistant Secretary, Mr. Steele will support the President’s fight to address income inequality, climate change, and systemic racism, and to make our economy more just for workers. I fully support his nomination and urge my colleagues to do the same.”
This one has Warren pleased as well.
Just a few more tweaks—getting a full Federal Communications Commission on board to reinstate net neutrality and putting some pressure on the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors to finally boot Trump holdover Postmaster General Louis DeJoy—and we’ll have a government that knows what it’s doing and is doing it to make life better for everyone. What a difference a president can make.