Warren criticizes Obama administration on antitrust enforcement

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says the Obama White House isn’t doing all it can to crack down on corporate mergers that can stifle competition.

{mosads}Warren praised the administration Wednesday for stopping more mergers than its Republican predecessors, but said it relied too much on ineffective conditions that drive up prices instead of blocking the corporate marriages all together.

“Mergers are outrunning enforcement,” said Warren at a Capitol Hill event hosted by progressive think tank New America. “Where a merger raises antitrust concerns, regulators need to stand tall and say ‘no.’”

Warren, who’s reportedly being vetted as vice presidential pick by Hillary Clinton, said that the country needs “a president and executive branch willing to enforce our laws” to their full power. 

Not doing so would let major corporations stomp out smaller competitors, “suck the last vestiges of economic security out of middle class” and “pervert our democracy into another rigged game,” said Warren.

Warren gave credit to the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice for blocking some major mergers, but said too many smaller ones slipped through the cracks. Others that should have been stopped were just watered down with ineffective, unenforced conditions, she added.

“Too often they just don’t work,” Warren said. “The regulators who didn’t have the chops to block the deal in the first place aren’t likely to force the companies to break up.”

Warren’s remarks came in a speech arguing how concentrated industries — business areas dominated by three or four massive corporations — stifle competition and consumer choice and crush small businesses.

The senator also said that a lack of parity lets massive corporations “throw armies of lawyers at the regulatory process,” skewing laws to protect themselves against market forces, and suppress companies.

She called for hiring new regulators across multiple federal agencies to find and eliminate monopolistic business practices.

“We need strong regulators that believe in competition because personnel is policy,” Warren said. “Strong executive leadership could revive antitrust enforcement in this country and once again fight back against dominant market power and political power.”

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