Congress and Antitrust Policy After the Reagan Administration
We began the Bush administration with a much less polarized atmosphere surrounding antitrust policy than that which existed in the previous eight years. While there is certainly not unanimity about the proper antitrust enforcement policy or desirable antitrust legislation, there are signs of greater consensus on some issues and a narrower dividing gulf on others.
This chapter first gives a brief overview of Reagan Administration antitrust policy, as compared with the signals that emerged from the Bush administration. Second, it describes the relationship between Congress and antitrust policy. Third, it reviews the substance and status of the most important ongoing antitrust legislative debates -- the continuation of the McCarran-Ferguson insurance exemption and changes in the private right of action, such as contribution, claim reduction, detrebling, and indirect-purchaser suits. It also reviews bills addressing intellectual property, international competitiveness, joint research ventures, and production and marketing ventures, and, finally, legislation designed to strengthen the law against resale price maintenance. The chapter concludes with an affirmative antitrust agenda for Congress.
Antitrust Signals in a New Administration
The Reagan administration's relationship with Congress had a rocky start. Soon after the new administration was sworn in, the Office of Management and Budget proposed to eliminate all funding for Federal Trade Commission antitrust enforcement -- in effect, to modify the antitrust laws through the budgetary process. 1 The proposal was met with a firestorm of criticism, particularly from the small business community, and the idea never caught hold in Congress. 2 President Reagan's nominee to