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Conservatives Praise Kohl and Lee's Letter to the FTC on Google's Conduct

Conservatives across the country have praised Monday’s letter from Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Mike Lee (R-UT) voicing their concerns to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz over Google’s search engine practices and their impact on competition in Internet search and commerce and the free market. Here’s what they’re saying:

Rick Rule, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division from 1985-1989 lauded the Senators, saying:

“Senator Lee’s letter to the FTC shows that the Senator understands that promoting sound antitrust law enforcement is an important bulwark against the inevitable calls for regulation.  Senator Lee’s letter is in line with the views of conservative judges and free-market heroes, like Judge Bork and Judge Posner.

I too am a conservative who believes in the supremacy of free markets. I worked for President Reagan as the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division.   We understood then, as Senator Lee understands today, that in order for free-market competition to work, consumers and producers must be able to respond to the market’s ‘invisible hand’ free from artificial restraints imposed by government, by cartels, or by monopolists like Google.  The troubling allegations that Google uses its market power to impose such restraints are too numerous to ignore.  As Senator Lee’s letter demonstrates, conservative principles demand that Google be held accountable to the rule of law.”

Mark Corallo, the former Press Secretary and then Public Affairs Director for the U.S. Department of Justice (2002-2005), dissected the Senators’ letter on RedState.com, headlining the piece: “A Bipartisan Message to Google from the U.S. Senate: ‘We don’t trust you…’” It is big news, Corallo said, that Kohl and Lee put their concerns into writing and “asked for action.” A strong bi-partisan letter is not an insignificant thing, Corallo notes (or “customary” as Google claims), with Congressional Republicans and Democrats more polarized than ever. As Corallo wrote:

“When two senators not only agree on an issue but are willing to do something about it, the seismic tremors can be felt from the halls of the FTC right up to Google’s executive suites.

Saul Anuzis, Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party (he describes himself as “an unabashed Reagan conservative with strong opinions about the role of government”) said the letter voiced “measured, pragmatic, and – yes! – even conservative concern” about Google. He condemned Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and the company, saying that Google’s “track record of violations shows that Google has failed on several occasions to adequately comply with the rule of law.” Because of the “importance of technology to our nation’s economy and Google’s rocky legal history, conservatives,” Anuzis said, “are right to encourage an examination of whether or not we have a truly competitive digital marketplace.”

The American Consumer Institute (which emphasizes “empirical analysis of consumers’ economic welfare” over “conjecture, opinion or political leaning to judge what benefits or harms consumers”) released a statement lauding the action of the two senators, saying they were “justified in asking the FTC to use its existing authority to investigate Google’s market power and to scrutinize their actions that appear designed to simply hobble their small but innovative competitors.”

A competitive marketplace is essential to protecting the businesses that drive the American economy. Or, as Bob would say, “fair markets are free markets.”