Tim Wu, architect of Biden Antitrust Push, leaves the White House
Tim Wu, a central architect of President Biden’s push to clip the wings of the nation’s biggest corporations, is leaving the White House.
Wu’s last day on the National Economic Council will be Wednesday, ending his 22-month tenure as the president’s special assistant for competition and technology policy, the White House said. Mr. Wu told the New York Times that he would return to his previous job as a professor at Columbia Law School.
Mr Wu is one-third of a troika – with Lina Khan at the Federal Trade Commission and Jonathan Kanter at the Justice Department – leading Washington’s attempts to more aggressively control corporate giants, including the biggest corporations technologies. He was the author of a July 2021 executive order requiring federal agencies to take action to increase competition across the economy. Ms. Khan and Mr. Kanter have tried to block corporate consolidation using unusual arguments in court.
Mr. Wu, 50, said personal reasons prompted his departure. He shuttled between Washington and New York, he said, requiring him to spend periods away from his young children.
“There is a time when the burden of family is too heavy,” Wu said. “I feel like the balance has shifted.”
Mr Wu said he came into office believing it was a “unique chance” to reverse decades of more conservative competition law thinking. The administration has scored some victories on that front — like enacting parts of the 2021 Executive Order, which led the government to open up electric vehicle charging networks and make hearing aids available for purchase over the counter. .
“I think I’m perhaps most proud of the fact that we’ve restored a presidential role in competition policy and economic structure,” he said.
But antitrust legislation aimed at banning common practices used by tech giants, a goal of many progressives, has failed to become law.
Mr Wu said it was “disappointing” that technology-related legislation was not passed during his tenure and defended White House efforts to push for the antitrust measure. “We supported it along the way,” he said, adding, “We have repeatedly and unconditionally expressed our support for a bipartisan bill of this nature.”
Wu said he was pleased with the aggressive action taken by the FTC and the Justice Department, the two top federal antitrust regulators, over the past two years. The agencies, which are headed by political figures, work independently of the White House.
Although the Justice Department was successful in preventing Penguin Random House from buying Simon & Schuster, the courts ruled against several of its other merger challenges. The FTC has also filed a lawsuit to stop Meta, Facebook’s parent company, and Microsoft from buying companies in recent months; these efforts face serious legal challenges.
Hannah Garden-Monheit, who was involved in the antitrust executive order, will resume her work on antitrust policy. Elizabeth Kelly, who works on digital asset policy for the National Economic Council, will inherit her technology policy issues portfolio, the White House said. Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council, will continue to oversee both areas.
Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said in a statement that over the past two years the government has rekindled “a great American tradition of presidential leadership in competition policy, reminiscent of the era of Franklin and Teddy. Roosevelt”. He added that the administration would “continue to institutionalize bipartisan, pro-competitive reforms across all agencies.”
Asked what to expect in the coming years, Ramamurti highlighted the requirements set out in the 2021 executive order.
“We have all these different levers that we can pull — the staff, the justice system, you know, the agencies — and we’re working on all of that,” he said.
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