Hillicon Valley — Feds to make moves on antitrust
After seven months with a split board, the Federal Trade Commission finally secured a Democratic majority, setting up Chair Lina Khan to push forward with an agenda heavy on antitrust.
In other news, the S&P 500 index of major U.S. stocks extended its decline, and Elon Musk responded to what he called “wild accusations” after a report accused him of sexual misconduct against a SpaceX employee.
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FTC to push ahead on Democratic agenda
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) newly confirmed Democratic majority is poised to push forward with an aggressive antitrust agenda after months of delays in the Senate that left Chairwoman Lina Khan with a split board.
Now, with FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya confirmed, the commission can pursue the Democratic majority’s priorities.
At Thursday’s FTC meeting, the first time the agency had a full five members in seven months, the board voted unanimously on two measures. But rifts are already forming in other areas, as Khan seeks to boost the agency’s budget by 30 percent to staff up as it takes on tech giants and handles a record number of mergers.
Staff up: That boost is crucial to hire more full-time employees, Khan told the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
With the increase, the agency could hire 215 additional full-time employees, she said.
“We anticipate that the majority of this increase would go towards expanding our enforcement teams and litigators who are on the front lines of fighting unlawful business practices,” Khan told the House panel while testifying about the budget request.
GOP disagreement: Republican Commissioners Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson are opposing the proposed increases led by the agency’s Democrats.
“The accompanying Congressional Budget Justification provides no roadmap for effectively deploying the dramatic increase in resources it purports to justify, and no assurance that the agency will abandon its present course of deviating from sound legal precedent and the Commission’s established jurisdiction. For these reasons, we cannot embrace this budget request,” the Republicans said in a statement issued at the end of March.
Stock fall continues
The S&P 500 index of major U.S. stocks continued a seven-week decline on Friday to fall 20 percent since January, officially meeting the definition of a bear market. The index hit 3,837 on Friday afternoon, down from a January high of around 4,800 points.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below 30,830, dropping more than 16 percent from its January high of nearly 36,800.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq fell nearly 30 percent to drop below 11,100 off a January peak of more than 15,800 as markets continued to punish Big Tech stocks.
The stock drops have followed a recent interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve of 50 basis points as the U.S. central bank seeks to curb inflation, which is at a 40-year high.
MUSK WEIGHS IN
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk late Thursday apparently responded to an article from Insider that says Musk was accused of sexually propositioning a SpaceX flight attendant, calling the claims not true.
According to the report, which cites interviews and documents, a flight attendant accused Musk of exposing himself during a massage and asking her for sex, according to a friend of the SpaceX employee. The flight attendant declined his advances and later got a lawyer after she felt she lost opportunities at the company for turning away Musk’s overtures.
Musk, without citing the report, tweeted on Thursday, “For the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue.”
BITS & PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: It’s time to bring the public interest standard to digital platforms
Lighter click: Something to take the edge off
Notable links from around the web:
Grubhub’s Disastrous ‘Free Lunch’ Promotion Shows Why the Gig Economy Is Broken (Motherboard / Edward Ongweso Jr.)
Is “Dark MAGA” Actually Anything? (Mother Jones / Ali Breland)
The Liberal Obsession With ‘Disinformation’ Is Not Helping (Intelligencer / Sam Adler-Bell)
One more thing: Don’t look at Musk for funding
Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur and Tesla CEO, says that he has no plans to fund Republican super PACs despite announcing this week that he would vote for GOP candidates in future elections.
In an email to CNBC, Musk also said that he doesn’t plan to form a super PAC of his own to oppose President Biden in the 2024 election.
“I have no plans to create a super PAC,” Musk told CNBC when asked if he would create a super PAC to oppose Biden. Asked if he would fund such a group in the upcoming midterm elections, Musk replied: “No super PAC anything going on.”
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