New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy

New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy
© Getty

A coalition of independent businesses launched Tuesday with the goal of urging federal policy reform to rein in the market power of top tech companies. 

The coalition, Small Business Rising, specifically takes aim at Amazon — accusing the e-commerce giant of anti-competitive tactics and harming small firms nationwide. 

“Concentrated market power is the single biggest threat facing independent businesses,” Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said in a statement. “Every day, we lose more small businesses because of the abusive and anti-competitive tactics of Amazon and other monopolies. This campaign gives America’s entrepreneurs a platform to stand up and call on policymakers to check monopoly power and reinvigorate the antitrust laws.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

Small Business Rising is a joint campaign of more than 20 independent business organizations representing more than 60,000 independent businesses across the country. Other organizations involved in the campaign include the American Booksellers Association, American Independent Business Alliance, Main Street Alliance and the National Grocers Association. 

The coalition is urging lawmakers to help break up and regulate the tech companies it called monopolies. 

It's also urging lawmakers to block dominating corporations from engaging in abusive tactics by strengthening antitrust laws, as well as outlawing “mega-mergers.” 

“The pandemic has shed light on just how concentrated our markets are, with companies like Amazon seeing massively increased profits as America's small businesses fight to survive. ABA believes we are stronger together and is excited to provide our members with this opportunity to connect with other independent businesses as we advocate for breaking up monopoly power,” Allison K. Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, said in a statement. 

Amazon pushed back on the coalition’s criticism, saying it has in fact "empowered small and mediums-sized businesses."

ADVERTISEMENT

“Self-serving critics are pushing misguided interventions in the free market that would kill off independent retailers and punish consumers by forcing small businesses out of popular online stores, raising prices, and reducing consumer choice and convenience. Amazon and third-party sellers complement each other, and sellers having the opportunity to sell right alongside a retailer’s products is the very competition that most benefits consumers and has made the marketplace model so successful for third-party sellers,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. 

Earlier this year, the coalition of associations joined together in a letter to President BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE urging the administration to prioritize antitrust efforts. 

Democrats in the House last year released a report on competition in the digital marketplace that accused Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook of being monopolies and offered a range of proposals. 

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation | Amazon fined 6M by EU regulators Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation Bill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol MORE (D-Minn.) in February introduced an ambitious bill aimed at strengthening competition laws that included many of the suggestions in the report, and the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee held a series of hearings starting in February on proposals to address what it sees as an abuse of online market power. 

The companies have pushed back on the accusations targeting their market power. 

Amazon published a blog post after the release of the House report that says “large companies are not dominant by definition.” 

“[T]he presumption that success can only be the result of anti-competitive behavior is simply wrong,” the company said at the time. “And yet, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, those fallacies are at the core of this regulatory spit-balling on antitrust.”

—Updated at 12:26 p.m.