NY AG Heads Multistate Effort to Support DOJ & FTC Merger Guidelines

September 20, 2023 – In a significant move to strengthen merger oversight and prevent excessive corporate power, New York Attorney General Letitia James has led two groups of attorneys general in supporting proposed revisions to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Merger Guidelines. These guidelines determine whether corporate mergers break antitrust laws.

Attorney General James emphasized how these revised guidelines can protect workers and consumers. In a letter she praised the DOJ and FTC for their efforts, saying the guidelines will help prevent anticompetitive mergers and ensure choices for consumers and job opportunities for workers.

The attorney general groups, made up of legal officials from different states like Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Massachusetts, among others, stress the importance of these changes in reflecting today’s economic realities. They support the DOJ and FTC’s efforts to improve merger oversight and maintain fair competition as Congress intended.

Their comments focus on two main aspects of the revised guidelines. Firstly, they back making a broader range of mergers presumptively anticompetitive, meaning it will be harder for merging companies to defend themselves. This scrutiny aims to prevent harmful corporate dominance.

Secondly, they support explicitly acknowledging antitrust laws that protect competition in labor markets. This is vital for safeguarding workers’ wages, especially in industries like healthcare and rural markets. The guidelines also stress evaluating how mergers affect workers’ benefits and conditions, not just their wages.

The attorney general groups also call for clearer language in parts of the guidelines and more detailed explanations of the legal standards the FTC and DOJ will use. This transparency is essential for everyone to understand the guidelines better.

Attorney General Rob Bonta of California has also played a significant role in supporting the revised Merger Guidelines. He led a coalition of 19 attorneys general in sending comments to the DOJ and FTC. Attorney General Bonta praised the Biden-Harris Administration for prioritizing competition and lowering consumer costs. He stressed the need to address excessive corporate power and promote fair competition.

Bonta’s coalition echoes the sentiments of Attorney General James’ group. They support making more mergers presumptively anticompetitive and raising the bar for merging companies to defend themselves. Both groups call for clearer language in the guidelines and appreciate the decision to address labor market issues explicitly.

By Competition Policy International
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