Joseph Simons, a retired partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, is President Donald Trump’s pick to head up the Federal Trade Commission, and would pick up enforcement of antitrust under his charge. Simon was nominated to replace acting Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen.
According to a report in Bloomberg, in response to questions from the Senate Commerce Committee, Simons said he has “significant concerns” that U.S. antitrust officials have been too lax with merger reviews, which has resulted in higher prices and a reduction of choices for consumers.
“Addressing these concerns is critical, as they lie at the heart of the agency’s competition mission,” Simons wrote. “The FTC needs to devote substantial resources to determine whether its merger enforcement has been too lax, and if that’s the case, the agency needs to determine the reason for such failure and to fix it.”
The FTC is also in charge of enforcing consumer protection laws and anti-competitive practices by companies. The other nominees to the five-person panel include Republicans Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson and Democrat Rohit Chopra. Trump has yet to choose a second Democrat.
Simons went on to say that the FTC needs to lower the failure rate when it comes to merger settlements, which happen when assets are sold to address issues with competition. He pointed to his previous time at the FTC, when he was in charge of the competition bureau during George W. Bush’s presidency. At that time, he said, the FTC took more enforcement actions against anti-competitive behavior than in any comparable two-decade prior or after he was in charge.
The last big anti-competitive case was when Microsoft tried to hamper Netscape back in 1988, noted the report.