The Corruption Is In Congress: When Your New Bill Exempts The Biggest Employers In Your State, Perhaps There's A Problem

from the look at that dept

Karl wrote a bit about how the new antitrust bill from Amy Klobuchar and Tom Cotton pretends that the only industry that has competition issues is the internet industry — despite evidence suggesting other industries are much worse off — and briefly mentioned the fact that their bill conveniently excludes Walmart and Target. But the setup of the bill and those particular exclusions are so nefariously done, and so obviously corrupt, that they deserve a second post to call it out.

First off, when the House version of this bill came out, we highlighted that the $600 billion threshold seemed curiously specific, since it seemed specifically drawn just above a ton of politically powerful companies — including Walmart, Disney, AT&T, Verizon, Visa, Mastercard, JP Morgan Chase, Disney, Bank of America and others. But notably the House version of the bill would put down the $600 billion line as a marker, and if those companies reached that threshold, then they too would be subject to the same rules, and prevented (or, significantly hindered) from buying other companies.

And that’s where the Senate version is so nefarious. Under the terms of the Klobuchar/Cotton bill, it only applies to companies who are over the $600 billion line on the day the bill is signed. In other words, while the House version would eventually impact Walmart (largest employer in Tom Cotton’s state) and Target (largest employer in Klobuchar’s state), Klobuchar and Cotton conveniently changed the rules in the bill so that they would not impact the biggest companies in their home states.

There is no way to look at that other than as corrupt.

And, as Pat Hedger points out, Walmart has been growing like crazy over the last five years or so (which seems odd, considering we keep hearing that Amazon has “monopolized” commerce and is driving out all the competition):

So, as I type this Walmart is valued at a little over $400 billion. That might seem far off from $600 billion, but as recently as 2016 Walmart was valued below $200 billion. $600 billion in the next few years is not at all out of the question. And if this bill passes, it won’t matter for Walmart.

Target is somewhat smaller, but also has been growing like crazy:

So both of those companies — which compete fairly directly with Amazon — have been growing like gangbusters, and their own Senators are introducing a bill that will block Amazon from acquiring companies, but has a built-in exemption that keeps both of these competitors from being limited in the same way Amazon is being limited.

Is there honestly any way to view this setup other than out and out corruption by Klobuchar and Cotton? Protecting the largest employer in each of their states by shackling the major competitor to each, and making sure their own companies are exempted from the law no matter how large they grow?

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Companies: amazon, target, walmart

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Comments on “The Corruption Is In Congress: When Your New Bill Exempts The Biggest Employers In Your State, Perhaps There's A Problem”

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33 Comments
Slow Joe Crowsays:

Since Congress is often described as a market for buying and selling legislative services Cotton and Klobuchar are merely following the tradition of such eminent Senators as Henry Jackson D – Boeing, Bod Dole R – Archer Daniels Midland , and Joe Biden D – Mastercard. So they are now Cotton R – Walmart and Klobuchar D – Target.

Samuel Abramsays:

Re:

Eisenhower initially wanted to refer to the Military-Industrial Complex as the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, but he had a good relationship with congress and didn’t want to alienate them (the fifties had more than their fair share of problems, but they didn’t have presidents who wanted to kill members of the opposition parties or even the same parties as with Trump).

OGquakersays:

Re: Re: Sorta

Eisenhower spent his entire first two years trying to put away Sen.(R) McCarthy sub-rosa, always replying to the press with "Who, Me?" and NEVER saying his name! When McCarthy spent too much energy trying to protect Roy Cohn’s "researcher" & lover David Schine from the military Draft by threatening to "tear apart the Army" Eisenhower went for the jugular. Dirksen (R) was playing both ends as were many Republicans, the highway interstate, Veterans Compensation Act and a host of progressive programs were being intentionally sidetracked by the "Communist in Government" BS. A Congressional trial was TV broadcast on 3 networks for almost two months in 1954, and as soon as Eisenhower’s role was exposed, he clamped down the entire Whitehouse with "Executive Privilege". Cars were stolen, homes were spoiled with graffiti and the players had full-time protectors. Simultaneously General LeMay had forced Lewis Strauss (AEC) to pull Oppenheimer’s Security clearance as a Pinko for his opposition to building the H-bomb….the Russians were first, OMG. Eisenhower’s timing of the hearings gave McCarthy and the other Republicans no media time to red-bait the SEC or the Air force. Eisenhower chided the press for creating [un-named], and when the press complained that the President was telling them their job, he rebutted that the press was Always telling him his job.

Upstreamsays:

Same old song, just louder

Corruption in Congress has been SOP forever, but this example is a bit more blatant than the usual pork barrel style. I think the telling part is that the Congress-critters no longer feel the need to keep up even the slightest pretense of legitimacy. The odd $$ limit is really quite transparent. The only way it could be clearer is if they actually exempted their home state companies by name.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Same old song

yeah, you’d think by now that professional Congressional observers in the media would have noticed that Congresspersons are routinely corrupt — doing the bidding of the rich and politically powerful.

but no, they highlight and tsk-tsk at every new, unsurprising outrage from Capitol Hill.
the media is totally unable to diagnose the basic problem they loudly fret about decade after decade.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Same old song, just louder

"Even worse than dictatorships?"

Well, it’s the worst imaginable democracy or republic. It’s not representative either, given how easy it is to become disenfranchised. Even if it were representative no US politician gets anywhere without learning how to sell everyone down the river and turn back on every promise if that is what it takes to get campaign funding.

I mean…ok, at least in name you have a republic. I just wouldn’t be too surprised if the actual freedom of choice was somewhere around russian or chinese standards by now…

Upstreamsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Same old song, just louder

I just wouldn’t be too surprised if the actual freedom of choice was somewhere around russian or chinese standards by now…

It is very close, though few will admit it.

For the last 150+ years, it has been only government sanctioned (R & D) candidates that have been allowed to be viable options. Actual opposition candidates and parties, while not explicitly prohibited, are effectively prohibited, largely by onerous, expensive, and time-consuming ballot access requirements and restrictions. The government sanctioned parties and candidates do not have these requirements and restrictions. As long as opposition parties and candidates are effectively eliminated by the policies currently in place, there is no need for the heavy-handed explicit prohibitions that other authoritarian countries have in place.

There have been a few "flash-in-the-pan" exceptions to the above, but nothing meaningful, just one-off attempts that got nowhere and had zero staying power.

naschsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Same old song, just louder

For the last 150+ years, it has been only government sanctioned (R & D) candidates that have been allowed to be viable options.

Did you recently emerge from a cave? Our previous president was about the last person the establishment (from either party) would have wanted as a candidate.

Actual opposition candidates and parties, while not explicitly prohibited, are effectively prohibited, largely by onerous, expensive, and time-consuming ballot access requirements and restrictions.

That just means you have to be rich to run successfully, not that you have to have the blessing of the "government" (what the government even has to do with who runs for office is not clear).

Samuel Abramsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Same old song, just louder

I’ll take "worst imaginable democracy or republic". It’s just that "America has the worst possible system of government" which meant that the US’s system of government is worse than dictatorships or political monarchies (i.e. Monarchies where the Monarch has political power and isn’t a mere figurehead).

That One Guysays:

The latest in 'Look at and vote for me!' bills to hit the floor

At this point they might as well show even a scrap of honesty and just title it the ‘Punishing Companies We Don’t Like Bill’, it’s not like anyone would be surprised as those that can see through the paper-thin veneer of corruption already know what’s going on and the gullible they’re pandering to wouldn’t even care if they were honest in their corruption so long as they’re stickin’ it to those durn tech companies.

ECAsays:

lets see.

Over capitalization. Evaluating your company Above its value for reasons.
More stocks to sell. that you will never be able to buy back. Interesting thing that.
Over estimating your value, also keep Amazon and others from Buying you out. And with tons of Over valued Stock, anyone trying to take over will loose money as soon as they try.

Richsays:

"This bill is sponsored by..."

If Congress were to take a page from the Nascar playbook and replace the typical office attire with some light coveralls, appropriately adorned with patches containing all of their sponsor’s logos, I could at least have some sliver of respect for their efforts toward maintaining some illusion of honesty, and the People might have some idea who they are voting for.

Also, in this day and age, isn’t "representative" government somewhat obsolete?

Richsays:

Re: isn't "representative" government somewhat obsolete?

Allow me to clarify…
Representative government was invented because no means by which all concerned, voting citizens could have their opinions weighed when the business of legislation requires attention was in any way feasible. It is a solution to a problem we no longer have, thus it is "obsolete". Shenanigans of the nature described in this post are symptomatic and evidential of this theory.

Upstreamsays:

Re: Re: isn't "representative" government somewhat obsolete?

It is a solution to a problem we no longer have

How do we not still have this problem? Please explain.

Last time I checked, the only way all "voting citizens could have their opinions weighed" was by voting. This can be done either conventionally with paper ballots, or electronically. Conventional voting and the counting of the ballots is still a huge, expensive, time-consuming hassle, and, while it does preserve anonymity, it is prohibitively difficult for routine use whenever the "business of legislation requires attention." Electronic voting, while much quicker, easier, and cheaper, can only be authenticated and verified by means of a version of public key cryptography, and the anonymity is unavoidably lost in the process, so this is not a viable option, either.

That leaves us with . . . representative government.

Richsays:

Re: Re: Re: isn't "representative" government somewhat obsolete?

It is a solution to a problem we no longer have because it no longer requires days, if not weeks, for a person to travel to the nation’s capitol to offer up any potentially meaningful contributions or concerns regarding policy that might impact them.

‘Last time I checked, the only way all "voting citizens could have their opinions weighed" was by voting.’

Um…ok. So, as a citizen who believes that a proposed bill before Congress that might greatly impact free speech on the internet because a few representatives got their feelings hurt on social media, please explain the procedure that you believe you can use to cast your own "yes" or "no" on that particular bill. And before you say "you write a letter to your Congressional representative", reread this article and think hard.

naschsays:

Re: Re: isn't "representative" government somewhat obsolete?

Shenanigans of the nature described in this post are symptomatic and evidential of this theory.

But I shudder to imagine the shenanigans that would ensue with direct democracy in the US. Millions of people who mostly have no idea how government works or what the Constitution means, many of whom have as their primary goal defeating the other political team, voting on probably thousands of bills a year… as bad as the current system is, I think it might actually be better than that.

Samuel Abramsays:

Re: Re: Re: isn't "representative" government somewhat obsolete?

Totally agree. I’ve heard some people be advocates of sortition for choosing public officials, and if you consider that it means choosing leaders and legislators by the same process jurors for trials are chosen, that’s madness. I mean, think about it, as bad as Trump was, what if some rando was chosen out of a hat for president? I know it sounds silly to think it could be worse, but I believe there’s a Jewish folk tale with the moral saying that it can indeed happen…

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: "This bill is sponsored by..."

"Also, in this day and age, isn’t "representative" government somewhat obsolete?"

Nah. As long as you can get the proportion of warm bodies sent to the seats of power in the national capital to correspond to the proportion of people voting for them, representation works just fine.

Of course that isn’t a given with US-style gerrymandering, widespread voter disenfranchisement, artificially imposed difficulties in registering voter id and casting ballots, etc. The US democratic deficit is real.

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